BELDING — After a hiatus of several months, with no group or single individual available to represent the largest and longest running festival in the city of Belding, the Belding Labor Day Celebration Committee has officially reformed.
After the previous committee disbanded toward the end of 2012, a search for new members was put into motion. That search lasted several months, with several members of the Belding community eventually coming forward looking for ways to contribute to the festival.
On Wednesday night, the new committee held its first official meeting on its own, after meeting with members of the previous committee last week, and set into motion a list of goals and new priorities moving forward for the Belding Labor Day Celebration that now enters it’s 108th year.
The new committee now consists of an executive board, consisting of seven members, which include a treasurer, secretary and two co-chairpersons, Belding residents Shelley Gladding and Scott McNeal. The group, which continues to grow, also includes several other committee members.
“As a child, this festival is what you remember in Belding,” Gladding said. “I could not imagine letting the children and people of this community down and not allowing this festival to happen.”
Throughout the committee’s Wednesday evening meeting, discussions ranged from creating new events for the upcoming 2013 festival, scheduled for Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, to improving traditional events such as the parade and carnival midway.
Throughout the evening, one common theme came up time and time again for the new committee that is just beginning to scratch the surface of everything that goes into putting on the four-day festival.
“We have to push forward,” member Mike Vanloo said. “I was scared at first. I wondered, where is thing going to go? But now I’m very comfortable. There are lot’s of questions to ask, especially this early, but we will succeed.”
City councilman and liaison to the new committee Mike Scheid said he believed it was important to see that the festival continue to succeed in Belding.
“It is a weekend when people come back to Belding,” he said. “It’s called the the homecoming weekend for a reason.”
McNeal said one major focus of the new committee will be to include as many local groups and organizations as possible when hosting the festivities.
“We think, as a new group of people, the focus should be to get more people involved,” he said. “We want to get the entire community involved. It is the whole community’s event.”
With board and committee members that include a county commissioner, school board members and previous Labor Day Committee members, new member Lynn Mason said she believes the new group has the experience to continue to make the Labor Day festival successful.
“I can feel the excitement,” she said. “We have people who want to get the job done. We are already people who like to organize and like to be detailed. Every single one of us has some sort of experience to bring to this group and provide great ideas.”