As stressful as some work weeks may be, I honestly think this newspaper could sometimes run itself easier than one of the community events I’ve helped plan in the past.

Back in 2012, Aberdeen turned 175 and what started with 18 volunteers tasked with organizing 12 different events for each month was ultimately whittled down to three who gladly turned the final event over to someone eager to host a gospel concert.

Simple events such as a farmers market, Thanksgiving potluck and community picnic seemed as if they would be easy to pull off, but there’s a lot more legwork involved.

To the members of the Aberdeen Pilgrimage Association and Amory Railroad Festival Committee, bless you for what you do.

It’s not like I’m shell-shocked thinking back to the fashion show at the Elkin. It’s not like I’m still recovering from talking up the Mardi Gras event live on WCBI Sunrise either, but my overwhelming appreciation for event volunteers remains after personally experiencing it.

Since we’re only a few days out, I can almost taste those pancakes made by Troop 39 Boy Scouts and those apple fritters made by members of Bethel Apostolic Church.

I can almost hear architectural descriptions of a home built in the 1800s and a local hard rock band’s new single I’ve never heard live.

None of these springtime Monroe County luxuries would be possible without the dedicated planners who make it all happen.

People from 20-something states on average flock to Aberdeen for the Pilgrimage, and tens of thousands of people are guaranteed to be in Amory every year for the Railroad Festival.

Chances are none of them can pick a committee member out of a crowd at The Magnolias or in Frisco Park. By living like a local, though, it’s a little easier.

If you’re in Aberdeen and see Faith West, Gail Dalrymple, Lynda Cole, Diane Smith, Sara Gardner, Tina Robbins or Mary Nichols, please voice your appreciation for another great Pilgrimage.

If you’re in Amory and bump into Dr. Tommy Fugett, Heather, Holman Jones, Tony Hooper, Brittany Eakes, Cassandra Morris, Mark Clingan, Harryette Gosa, Kelly Martin, Alyssa Benedict, Shawn Brannon, Becka Kyle, Diane Pickle, Laura Myatt, Cecil Cantrell or Alan Boozer, thank them for another amazing Railroad Festival.

These are the people who are making big things happen for Monroe County’s biggest time of the year, and it’s not easy.

I’ve still got my 175th anniversary T-shirt I wear very seldom to preserve it for years to come. Even after that shirt rips and fades with time, 2012 will be a constant reminder organizing isn’t easy.

Thank you to the ones who have put in the hard work to showcase our county’s most vibrant time of the year.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at

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