A lack of volunteers threatens the future of many annual summer events in the North Country.
For events happening from late May to early September, a lack of volunteers can turn a day of fun into a faded memory.
Here are some examples around the North Country.
First: The Labor Day Celebration in Au Sable Forks. Before, the event lasted for two days. On the first day, the grounds would be crowded with both guests and volunteers. An array of games and food booths were available along with a huge bingo game in the gym, a chicken barbecue, pie roulette, dunking booth and a bounce house. On the second day, the same events would happen, along with a parade in the morning.
Today, the gathering lasts for just a day, and after the closing of Holy Name School and St. Matthews Church, the town struggles to keep its tradition going. Now, the parade runs on the first day. All of the food and game booths remain, but many of the dedicated volunteers that ran them are no longer there. People who had been running the same booths for years have either died or have become too old to help. The few people who remain struggle to recruit new volunteers.
Second: “Champ Day” in Port Henry and Moriah. Before, it was a day to recognize the folklore surrounding the alleged Lake Champlain creature Champ, and pay tribute to the more than 300 documented sightings of the creature. “Champ Day” took place on the first Sunday of August. The event included sidewalk sales, street vendors, entertainment, children’s games and pony rides, among other things.
Today, “Champ Day” has been officially discontinued after 31 years. The event ended for multiple reasons, including the recession and the Champlain Bridge closure for two years. Because of this, the town decided to put “Champ Day” on hold until the economy righted itself. The economy has been recovering, but “Champ Day” has yet to be reinstated, mainly because of a lack of volunteers.