Are we taking advantage of our special events?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

There may be no other community in all of Alabama that works as hard at hosting special events as Demopolis does. From the big events like Christmas on the River and Freedom on the River, to the smaller ones like the Pilgrimage and walking tours, Demopolis has a keen interest in providing all forms of entertainment.

Nothing can be taken away from the men and women who work to bring these events. Those who volunteer to make a community better deserve nothing but praise. In that regard, it is imperative that we thank the men and women who spent their Fourth of July holiday devoting long and hot hours to hosting yet another enjoyable event for those who attended this weekend.

We are concerned, however, about the apparent decrease in the number of people who take part in the events our city hosts. Freedom on the River, for instance, has lost the glamour it once enjoyed. This year’s children’s parade, compared to just one year ago, saw a decrease in attendance. The hamburger cook-off, spared persistent thunderstorms of the past two weeks, did not grow from years past.

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It would be foolish to point fingers and pass blame for a lack of growth and excitement surrounding the events our city offers. Indeed, it is insulting to pass the buck to volunteers who could spend holiday weekends taking vacations away from Demopolis. That doesn’t mean we should stop raising questions about the unfulfilled potential of these events.

Look around the area and find a well-publicized Fourth of July event. Better yet, who in West Alabama puts on a better Christmas show than Demopolis?

The reality is that Demopolis has the opportunity to be the “entertainment capital” of West Alabama. We face no rivals, and have little competition when it comes to “community resources” — translated “volunteers.”

Maybe that lack of competition has made us apathetic toward our events. Maybe we need to refocus our energy on the recruitment of a more diverse field of volunteers. Maybe we need to spend a few dollars to advertise our positives around the region.

During the Fourth of July weekend, a city official was asked about the hamburger cook-off and fireworks show. That city official didn’t know when the events were being held. Another person called this newspaper on Friday, July 2, because she didn’t know when the fireworks show was being held. Yet another person called about the children’s parade, wondering if it was even being held.

Obviously, publicity is an important part of any community event. Publicity, on the other hand, can only be effective when there is organization.

We believe those who lead our community should work hard in the coming months to place special attention to getting the people of our region more involved in the special features of Demopolis. Let’s work together to bring more people to town. Let’s try harder to spread the word about our city’s amenities. Let’s pretend a neighboring city is a competitor for prospective tourists, and let’s take the challenge-head on.

In the end, let’s do these things to honor the hard work of so many people who invest their time for the betterment of Demopolis.