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 Friends Fall Festival 2010

Friends Fall Festival 2010 was once again a great year financially. But this year we topped even last year’s gross, a 7 percent increase and the second highest since 1998. However, the big news is that we ended with the highest profit ever in the history of our Festival, a 17 percent increase over 2009. What surprised us was that even in a down economy and with lots of competition, our Festival was thriving.

As in the past, the Fall Festival Committee attributes our financial success to careful, long-term planning, which brought in large amounts of money to three of our five main money-making activities–food sales (including the food booth and Friendly Café), sale of donated items (Friends Mercantile and Silent Auction), and the Greenery at the Grapevine (our fall plant sale). The increased sales from these main activities helped to bolster up the lagging revenue from our craft vendor space rentals and our kids’ activities. Also, for the first time we had the lowest expenses of any Festival.

Donated Items
The sale of donated items through the Friends Mercantile and Silent Auction brought in the most revenue this year with the Silent Auction, now under new leadership generating a good deal of that. The Friends Mercantile brought in the third highest amount in the last 10 years, even with fewer items. The newly reorganized Silent Auction featured 58 fine items, including gift certificates to local restaurants and services.

Festival Food
Our food category, including the food booth and the Friendly Café brought in the highest combined total in the last 8 years. As always our Festival’s food booth, The Wooden Ladle, did a brisk business. This year, thanks to our chief cook’s cost calculations, we were able to sell soup and chili in bulk at the end of the day and afterwards and still made a profit. Again, we offered hot apple cider, which didn’t sell too well because of the warm weather, as well as soft pretzels. While the Middle School Friends sale of Lemon Sippers brought in only a modest amount this year, they sold them for only a few hours around lunchtime, thus actually making as much as last year in less time.

Also included in the food total is the Friendly Café, our Festival’s baked goods shop. This year, the Café Ladies did another whopper of a job, enabling their profits to soar from the sale of delicious cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, fudge, and freshly baked organic bread. Through reorganization, creative displays, and a lot of effort, the Café equaled its take from last year.

Greenery at the Grapevine
If last year was a good one for the Greenery at the Grapevine, our fall plant sale, this year was far better, increasing last year’s income by 23 percent, thanks to a generous donation of numerous fall-blooming perennials. We expanded our plant offerings which attracted gardeners from far and wide, making our plant sale one of the most important ones in the region.

Craft Vendors
The amount brought in by renting spaces to craft vendors was the lowest on record, nearly half of last year’s total. The coordinator of the craft vendors attributed this both to the poor economy and the lessened interest in crafts in general. This year we once again provided entertainment over in the crafts area to keep the crowds moving through there.

Young Friends Frolics
The Young Friends Frolics (our kids activities) had been on a steady road to recovery and growth for the past seven years. However, this year, there seemed to be less kids at the Festival, according to our children’s craft coordinator. The crafts and games portion of the kids’ activities brought in a little more than in 2005, one of its lowest years due to inclement weather. A new kids’ games coordinator stepped in at the last minute. Face painting did better than last year. We discontinued the hayride this year because of a lack of space for the tractor to turn around since we used our lot for vendor parking.

The Cakewalk featured live music in its location next to the face painting booth. This fun activity attracted people of all ages. And our Quaker Juke Box entertained everyone inside throughout the day.

The Quaker Way
Our Quaker Way exhibit, assembled by our Outreach Committee, encouraged numerous people to ask questions about our Meeting and Quakerism in general. The committee refurbished the exhibit it first presented last year, plus added a slideshow, featuring photographs showing people and activities from our Meeting, that it showed on our large-screen TV. A Powerpoint presentation offered a look at our new Web site. In addition, one of our members answered visitors’ questions inside our Meeting House, where the Outreach Committee created a new display, “Quakers Then and Now, featuring both items of historical interest and those from Meeting today. And to complete our Meeting’s Festival outreach efforts, this year’s Quaker wedding re-enactment the best ever.

And last, but not least, we couldn’t have done any of this without the hard work and organization of our special Festival helpers, decorators and clean-up crew. But the most thanks goes to everyone who worked before, during, and after our Festival, especially to those who donated their time and energy to help set up the Friends Mercantile. More people came out during the week prior to the Festival than ever before. There was definitely a positive attitude and a feeling of enthusiasm that seemed infectious. Our Fall Festival requires a lot of work, but the results are definitely worth the effort.

Submitted December 5, 2010

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