From the Editor’s Desk: Dear Farmville, here’s what I saw Monday
Published 10:23 pm Thursday, July 6, 2023
The kids were laughing, the parents were relaxing and plenty of people, including myself, were in line to get some food. At that point Monday in Farmville, you would have never thought a thunderstorm had rolled through less than two hours earlier.
Now I normally don’t roll out two columns in one week, but after seeing some of the responses to Monday’s Fireworks After Dark in Farmville, I thought it was worth weighing in. I didn’t see it in nearly the same view. I’ve encountered several people who are up in arms over the fireworks. Either the show was too short, not impressive enough or shouldn’t have caused so much smoke. You can thank the weather for some of those, but in focusing so much on one part, I feel like the rest of the event is being ignored. And to be honest, it was a pretty great event.
So, about that celebration
Let’s recap for a minute. Starting at 6 p.m. Monday, residents started pouring into downtown, listening to the two bands performing at Crute Stage, visiting the pop-up shops set up on the sidewalk, eating from one of the eight food trucks on hand and turning kids loose to play in the bounce house and take part in the other games.
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Based on nothing but that alone, I’d call the celebration a success. You had people filling up the downtown area, enjoying themselves despite the heat and bringing family members. You introduced people to the downtown stores, which has been a goal for the town. They came, they shopped, they ate and drank, they listened to music while their kids ran around and got exhausted.
As I said, to me, that’s a win, even before we get into the fireworks. Every festival doesn’t have to be a massive project covering multiple blocks. You have to walk before you can run and a part of that for Farmville involves getting people to come into downtown for events, to see this as a destination. That doesn’t immediately happen. It takes time. You have to build that excitement, that sense of fun. If people enjoy themselves, they’ll come back for another one. And another and so on.
That’s what I saw Monday. I saw people laughing, talking and having a good time. I talked to some parents who were more than overjoyed to let their kids run themselves ragged in the children’s area, so they would sleep later. I saw people learning about other events and promising they would be back. I also saw a couple people hit with super soakers and vowing revenge, but I’m sure that ended well later on, even if the parent did promise to return fire with a garden hose.
Farmville doesn’t have a massive staff
And the biggest part here, the town made all this happen in between several fairly large storms. They set things up despite the wind and rain just a couple hours earlier and kept things steady during the fireworks show, despite another round of storms on the way. Let’s be clear. This isn’t Charlottesville. This isn’t Richmond. You don’t have hundreds of people handling this. You have a small staff, doing what they can to bring smiles and make sure things happen despite the storms.
That’s not easy to do. Just consider that before getting up in arms over the fact the fireworks got cut short. They didn’t do that for the heck of it. I guarantee nobody would want to sit in the rain or even in your car or truck to watch fireworks in the rain. Add 40 mph wind gusts and that doesn’t end well. So they did the best with what they had.
As for why the fireworks weren’t bigger and louder? As we mentioned in the week leading up, these were different than the stuff you’d see in DC, Chicago or even Meherrin. If you want to shoot off fireworks in a downtown area, you have to go with what’s called close proximity pyrotechnics. They aren’t as loud and don’t have the fallout of regular fireworks. But that’s the tradeoff you make when holding something near so many buildings.
And yet, despite the interference by Mother Nature, I didn’t see sour faces from people walking away Monday. I saw kids talking with their parents about which firework they liked the best. I saw one talking about how cool that was and how he wants to learn how to shoot off fireworks. Another family group with their grandparents thanked them for inviting everyone over, as parents and kids said how much they enjoyed the whole thing.
My point in all this is that sometimes, we can ruin fun as adults. We want big name musicians to play or larger play areas for the kids, we want bigger fireworks or shows that last longer. We want perfect, even if we don’t know what that means. We yell, we point fingers and accuse. As a result, we miss out on so many moments that could have just been enjoyed with friends and family.
I didn’t see all the things people complained about on Monday. I just saw a lot of people having a good time, despite the weather. And wasn’t that the whole point?
For a look at some of our photos from the event, you can click here.
BRIAN CARLTON is the editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. He can be reached at Brian.Carlton@FarmvilleHerald.com.