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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow Coastal Voices: Festival organizing lessons

Coastal Voices: Festival organizing lessons

A Lady Washington crewmember fixes the sails aboard his ship. The first ever Tall-Masted Ships Celebration, which ran May 1-6 in Crescent City, had its genesis more than a year ago when Garetta Lamore suggested bringing them to our harbor. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).
A Lady Washington crewmember fixes the sails aboard his ship. The first ever Tall-Masted Ships Celebration, which ran May 1-6 in Crescent City, had its genesis more than a year ago when Garetta Lamore suggested bringing them to our harbor. (The Daily Triplicate/Bryant Anderson).

This column seeks to historically and publicly document the first 259 days of the formation of the tall ships festival before turning it over Jan. 11 to Larry Lakes, at Rural Human Services, and to acknowledge those involved in the early festival formation days.

April 27, 2006, marks the first date that the idea of a tall-ships festival was recorded. Garretta Lamore convincingly stressed the need to bring the tall ships into port. Call it vision or the tenacity to see a dream become reality – I began to work in earnest to ensure the tall ships indeed arrived. For, this was not only Guy Tower's and Garretta's wish, rather, these two voiced collective dreams, I thought. On May 2, 2006, an e-mail was sent to Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority Marine Operations Manager Bob Kennedy, and the next day in Brookings, a group of us visited the Hawaiian Chieftain.

These are the humble beginnings of the Wild Rivers Coast Tall-Ships Festival: named by Rick Hiser in Linda Ging's office during the inaugural festival meeting attended in addition by Michelle Radison, Guy, Alan Justice, Steve White, Lani Hall, and myself. The group elected me to organize and be the festival's media "face" due partially to my enthusiasm and belief in the benefits to the community of a festival led by a coalition of nonprofits.

As time went on, the festival name changed. Wild Rivers Coast Tall Ships Festival became the Coastal Redwoods Tall Ships Festival before Larry received the reins. Ultimately, the names were changed to avoid trademark and copyright infringements.

While America's Wild Rivers Coast freely encourages its brand name use (though not readily known to me then), the American Sail Training Association charges for the use of Tall Ships. However, they return some exciting proposals – a designated stop for Race Challenge series tall ships, and, a 200-word trade magazine directory listing, which I would encourage taking advantage of in future years.

Initial fear

During these early days, I conducted presentations about the tall ships festival without a firm commitment from the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority. Folks raised objections about the scope of the festival – booth fees, dredging, and whether or not the tall ships would actually come to Crescent City. Yet, I already saw the festival as a reality in its totality. The objections raised brought to my attention that taking people past the initial fear of failure for a new festival represented the biggest obstacle.

Presentations to local governmental organizations and businesses offered interactive opportunities, and, after unanimous support, lent greater hope for a regular happening. When the Elk Valley Rancheria Council voted unanimously to become the Admiral Sponsor, the festival developed into reality for others.

However, as a newcomer from Santa Barbara, I could not muster sufficient festival coordinators, despite requesting help.

Even so, some committed to occupying and fulfilling coordinator positions. Two individuals merit specific mention and gratitude: Ron Cole and Alan Justice. Others attended festival meetings and also deserve recognition; I would like to thank each of them, for their support energized the festival idea.

Though I devoted more than 1,000 hours within 259 days to the early festival, in no way is that effort or contribution the most important or critical. Moreover, without the energy and efforts of all involved, the tall ships would not have come into port, thereby obliterating the Crescent City Tall-Masted Ships Celebration

Those who took the reins of the previously established festival, tightening them, rode the newly named festival into the harbor. They deserve high praise and acknowledgment: Festivals are not simple to organize.

The future

Events like the tall-ships festival encourage a future generation to see Crescent City as solvent. Our economy improves as attendance at festivals entices further financial fortitude from business owners.

Can anyone see Reggae in the Mill Creek Redwoods, June 2008?

Scott Michael Potter was among the early key organizers of what ultimately became the Tall-Masted Ships Celebration.

 

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