It’s not easy to plan a five-block long, busy, popular, successful Festival, but that’s what the Little Falls Cheese Festival’s planning committee (they call themselves “Team Cheese”) are trying to do.
Call for help!
For the 6th Little Falls Cheese Festival to happen as planned on Saturday, October 2, “we need help!” Team Cheese has announced. “Assuming Covid-19 restrictions completely recede, we really want to go forward.”
“If we are able to round up 60 or 70 volunteers—past ones and new ones—we can do this. If we cannot, we cannot.”
Anyone who is interested and wants to know more, or has a specific task/skill they’d like to offer, please send your contact information, ASAP but by June 30, to email@example.com. Cheesey fun and pride in Little Falls awaits you! “Join the Curd Herd”!
“To be clear,” explains Teri Chace of Team Cheese, “we’re only doing the Festival if there are NO Covid-19 restrictions or protocols to enforce. At this point, we are optimistic! We want to return better than ever.”
But by playing the wait-and-see game, the festival now finds itself running out of time. “We really need the support of our community! We are looking for all sorts of people, from friendly greeters/ambassadors/festival program hander-outers and sign putter-uppers, to a handful of folks who are willing and skilled at doing the heavier work of assisting vendors with set-up and tear-down. We also plan to have ‘block captains’ with assistants.”
The downtime the past year and a half has allowed the planners to think carefully about the organization and they want an improved experience for attendees, vendors, and volunteers. “By having more volunteers than in the past,” Chace explains, “the work will be spread around—and everyone can enjoy the day.”
Volunteers who step up to help this year can sign up for 2-hour shifts with clear responsibilities, then pop off to go enjoy the full festival. There will be “a brief and entertaining” orientation/training/Q&A session for new and returning volunteers later this summer. With this preparation, she says, “it should go more smoothly and nobody should feel overburdened or at sea.”
The HUGE year
Some will recall the mid-July 2019 Festival, which was, to borrow a term from an area car dealership, HUGE. The weather was good, though hot, and people poured into Little Falls to enjoy the Cheese Festival from throughout the Mohawk Valley as well as from Syracuse, Albany, the Hudson Valley, and even Ohio, California, and Montreal. There were 70+ vendors, including outstanding New York State cheesemakers, gourmet-food vendors, and bread/pastry purveyors as well as some regional adult beverages. Live-music acts were interspersed the length of the festival. Scouts helped out by delivering donated cold water bottles to the busy vendors.
Crowd estimates—for the full day, not at any one given moment (thank goodness!)—topped 5,000. “That’s more than the population of our city,” Chace marvels.
Area media, including ever-supportive WKTV and My Little Falls, covered it. It even got written up in Culture, the international cheese magazine! Everyone agreed, it was the biggest and best Little Falls Cheese Festival yet. Team Cheese, the vendors, and the City basked in the thrilling success.
In the period that followed, though, Team Cheese gathered comments and feedback and saw important opportunities for managing the festival’s “growing pains.” In addition to revamping the organization of the volunteers, the committee plans shuttle parking (so helpful and successful for the Mohawk Valley Garlic & Herb Festival), a small Food Truck Food Court, among other tweaks.
And a date change: moving the festival to autumn “was a no-brainer,” says Chace. “In mid-July, the attendees AND the cheeses were melting!” A new date of Saturday, October 2, 2021, was cleared with the city, relayed to the vendors, and established.
“It takes a village”
Other summer events and festivals have been canceled and scaled back and yet, things continue to open back up and Team Cheese is thinking positive about Saturday, October 2. “People will be eager to come and spend the day, we believe. Some will come for the cheese and other goodies and stay to discover the uniqueness and beauty of Little Falls.”
“We hope this community can pull together and help us put our best foot forward. We have a lot to be proud of—this really is the best (and now, only) Cheese Festival in the state—imagine that! Be a part of what is sure to be a great day for Little Falls. Please, drop a note to firstname.lastname@example.org; we will follow up, and, THANK YOU.”