For the first time since my freshman year of college, I went to the Prairie Arts Festival this year. Back in high school, I vaguely remember going a handful of times, and it was mainly just to see a couple of local bands.

The older I get, though, the more I’m interested in seeing what the arts and crafts booths have to offer, especially this time of year when the themes shift more to fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Last year was a strange year that deprived us from doing so many of the things we love to do.

While last summer and fall were a little more relaxed, several of the things you love to do didn’t happen out of safety precautions.

While we still can’t shake off this lingering pandemic and all of its setbacks, at least you can now go to games, concerts, sit down restaurants and around here, community events.

We all missed having a few of the big-ticket festivals throughout the region for the past couple of years, but more and more events continue to trickle back out.

Nettleton picked a good year to kick its Town Creek Festival up to its next level after taking a year off due to COVID-19 precautions. Maybe the soap box derby is here to stay. Maybe the nighttime entertainment is here to stay. Maybe a few changes will lead to others to pull in even more supporters.

When it comes to the success of so many things, support is one of the most important factors to make or break something.

In working for the Monroe Journal for 12-plus years, I’ve seen so many attempts at great events for the communities’ sakes organized by some well-intended and hard-working people. There have been countless times when we help promote it, get excited about it, wish it the best and by the time we go cover it, only a handful of people are there to support it.

The kicker is whenever they maaay try giving it a second attempt just to have it flop again due to lack of support, there’s always somebody (who never even went in the first place) to say, “Well, I hate they couldn’t keep it going.”

The they in so many of these scenarios can put their big hearts into something and make it as flawless as they can but for it to be successful, it takes you.

We all complained last year about how bad we hated that this got canceled and that got canceled. Now that this and that are coming back, we shouldn’t have any excuses not to go. You don’t have to spend $40 on arts and crafts and lemonade. You don’t have to be the first one to show up and the last one to leave, but just your simple support goes a long way.

Come September and October, the temperature isn’t unbearable like it is during the summer, making it one of the busiest times of the year for community events.

Whether it’s tasting chili, listening to the blues or watching a free movie in the park, go if you have the chance.

We can all probably think back to some regular event that was memorable and special we used to have in our hometowns and wish they still had them. As long as the droves of people come to support the big community events, the organizers will have the spark to keep them going.

No matter how big or how small these occasions are, thank the people putting them on and do what you can to show up and support them. These small town street festivals and community get-togethers mean so much for somebody, and I hope you’re one of them.

RAY VAN DUSEN is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com

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