After failing, for a number of reasons, to pull together plans for the Creamery Picnic celebration in Stevensville this year, the Stevensville Civic Club board of directors quietly cancelled the annual event. For over a hundred years, the town has celebrated the rebuilding of the Creamery following a catastrophic fire. The only other cancellation of the event occurred during World War II. Last Friday, however, more than 20 community members representing businesses and organizations, like the local drug store, the Masons, the American Legion and the Senior Center, as well as a number of individual town residents, showed up at Town Hall to reverse that decision.
The main question asked repeatedly of Tonya Eckert, Civic Club treasurer and chair of the Picnic for the last several years, was why the Civic Club didn’t ask for help when they saw that things were not going well. At this point, there are only about 40 days left to organize and fund the activities, which traditionally take place the first weekend in August.
Former Town Council member Bill Perrin brought the issue up at the last Town Council meeting on June 11 in the public comment period, saying he had heard rumors that the event had been cancelled. He said that the Creamery Picnic was too important to the town to be abandoned.
“It’s a part of our heritage,” said Perrin. “It has always been held and is a part of our legacy.” He said if the Civic Club would open up the process and let people help that it still might be preserved.
Although Town Council member Robin Holcomb serves on the Creamery Picnic committee, she did not confirm or deny or even respond to the comments.
When Mayor Brandon Dewey did get confirmation of the cancellation, he sent out about a dozen emails to people he thought would be concerned about the issue and scheduled an informal meeting last Tuesday at Town Hall to discuss it.
Eckert attended and told the group that she was just “burned out.” Rather than go public with their troubles the committee apparently began making plans to downsize the celebration by eliminating certain traditional events, before reaching the point that they considered it unfeasible and cancelled it altogether. Eckert said she believes the main issues are a lack of volunteers and not enough financial sponsors. She said the event costs at least $16,000 to put on.
The Stevensville community is not going to let the Picnic die. The group reached consensus that the celebration would go on and they were all committed to scrambling in the short time remaining to make sure the longstanding tradition continues. It was agreed to meet every Tuesday at Town Hall at 7 p.m. to continue the planning and execution of the event which is scheduled for August 3 and 4. Anyone interested in helping out is invited to attend the meetings or call Town Hall at 777-5271 and leave their name and contact information.