Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rotary and Kiwanis partner toward another successful Street Fair

Photos by Janet Markman

Everyone in the Caldwells looks forward to the first Sunday in October. For the past 19 years, it's been a day of celebration for the community as Bloomfield Avenue shuts down and downtown transforms into the Rotary/Kiwanis Street Fair. More than 35,000 people attended this year's festivities, enjoying the food, rides, vendors, beer garden, music, entertainment and one another. Three lucky winners ended their day by splitting a 50/50 with proceeds over $28,000.

The Rotary/Kiwanis Street Fair exemplifies what can be achieved when two service clubs collaborate toward an end. What began as an idea for a community event has grown into a major fundraiser for both organizations, contributing significantly to their annual budgets. The proceeds are invested back into the community or into national or international service projects through the work of Rotary and Kiwanis volunteers.

Planning and executing an event of this magnitude is no small feat. Work begins each year in November for the following year. A Rotary and Kiwanis Chair and Co-chair is assigned for The Street Fair and for each committee, ensuring parity in decision making and responsibility between the clubs. Rotarian Kevin Hersh, 2010 Street Fair Chair, partnered with Kiwanian Bob Hodge to lead a team of 48 committee chairs and members in working through every detail of the event from planning logistics to securing sponsors and vendors. Every member of Rotary and Kiwanis volunteers to work the Street Fair. Together with volunteers from across the community and emergency services, they make the day possible.

Past President June VanZandt recalled the genesis of The Street Fair and Rotary’s partnership with Kiwanis. “The idea for a community event came from Rotary, inspired by the Denville club, but we knew it was too big to manage ourselves. After exhausting the potential for partnership with other Rotary Clubs, I decided to approach Kiwanis. Their president was excited by the idea and very reasonable. The two organizations worked together for two years to plan the first Street Fair. Irene Gibbons, who was then Mayor and is still active in Kiwanis, was extremely supportive. A reputation had existed that Rotary and Kiwanis were competitors, which we did not believe. Our collaboration demonstrated the value of both clubs and that we could work together toward the betterment of our community.” Hersh agreed, “working with another service group adds community cohesiveness and makes for an extraordinary event.”

Please mark your calendar for the first Sunday in October 2011 to join The Rotary and Kiwanis Clubs of The Caldwells as they celebrate The Street Fair’s 20th anniversary.

Rotarian Christy Berg