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Perhaps it is time for Waterford Week to become Waterford Weekend.
Much has changed since the festival opened in 1977 to celebrate small-town community through a series of events. The Millstone 2 reactor had only recently begun producing electricity and operation of a third reactor unit was nearly a decade away. The town still retained much of its rural character, the mall and shopping centers that would spring up to expand its tax base and create jobs, changing the nature of Waterford in the process, had not yet emerged.
And like most everywhere else in the country, the options to keep people busy and entertained have grown, making it both harder to get volunteers to operate the many Waterford Week events and to attract participants. This year there is no parade, while officials cancelled the Lion's Road Race planned for this past Sunday due to a lack of participation.
Organizers are considering whether the annual festival, which this summer stretches from Aug. 7 to Aug. 17 and features several events in varying locations, should be concentrated in a weekend and restricted to one or two locations. Also under consideration is moving the festival to a time of year with less entertainment competition.
Both ideas have merit.
Having fewer events concentrated in a smaller window of time will require fewer volunteers and perhaps boost attendance. While it is important to retain some of that hometown feel for which Waterford Week is known, success also depends on attracting attendees from throughout the area.
And it would likely help to find dates on the calendar not already crowded with popular events elsewhere.
Organizers are asking town residents to provide input by taking an online survey at www.waterfordweek.org. The website also provides a chance to express an interest in volunteering.
It is would be far better to see the scope of this event change than to see it disappear.
Maybe Waterford will celebrate a reinvigorated festival on the 40th anniversary in 2017.
The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.