Farewell to the Heritage Festival

By Mike Ullery

January 18, 2014

Last week, the committee that operates the Piqua Heritage Festival, after many months of thought, made the decision to no longer hold the Piqua Heritage Festival.

I cannot imagine the headaches and sleepless nights that committee members endured as they came to a decision to lower the curtain on an event that was near and dear to their hearts, as it was to many others.

No sooner had the decision been announced, when comments and opinions began to circulate, most via the Internet.

A number of the comments were polite and expressed sadness that such a fine Piqua event would no longer be a part of our annual Labor Day weekend plans.

There were also a number of comments that were pointed and accusatory, and some that were flat-out inaccurate.

One of the largest concerns is that of those who wish to revive the festival.

To clear things up, as it stands, there can be no festival. The committee voted, based on their knowledge of the facts and figures they had pored over for months, and the decision was made to dissolve the Festival. All that currently remains is the executive board, in place for up to a year, to deal with bookwork and bills.

Anyone who would wish to begin a new festival would have to start from scratch.

My question to those who seem to be so angry over the demise of the Piqua Heritage Festival is, where were all of you when the festival committee asked, requested, practically begged, for volunteers?

Everyone is “up in arms” now, offering assistance and money. Where were you when the the need was there?

For those who are questioning, or attempting to blame the city and chamber for the festival’s demise, they had nothing to do with the operation of the festival.

The city donated manpower and equipment to assist in festival setup and tear-down. The chamber, for their own reasons, ceased participation several years ago.

One of the principal contributors told festival officials that they would no longer donate money, as they felt the event “had run its course.”

I believe that the weather, certainly, did the festival no favors in recent years. Unseasonably hot and cold temperatures, plus rain and storms, plagued the festival in recent years.

I know that no one feels more sad that the festival is gone than the committee and the many dedicated volunteers who gave countless hours to make the festival happen every Labor Day weekend for the past three decades.

I hope that all of us will take the time to thank those who made the festival a success, from Lou Havenar who was instrumental in founding the Piqua Heritage Festival to Cindy Hershberger-Lillicrap who chaired the final festival in 2013, and everyone in between. Well done!

Nothing lasts forever. The Piqua Heritage Festival will now take its place as a three-decade part of Piqua’s rich history.

The festival has left many pleasant memories for all of us who attended over the years. I am grateful that I had the chance to be a part of it.