Waterford Week turns 38; next year may be smaller

Waterford Week coordinators are working to change things to make the week of town spirit events more convenient and attractive to residents. On the top of the list of things to consider is trimming the program down to a weekend, starting in 2015.

The 38th annual Waterford Week starts Aug. 7 with the opening night of Waterford Summer Theater's production of "Rent.' It continues through Aug. 17 with events taking place at various locations. More information is available at waterfordweek.org.

People live more structured lives these days and don't have the time to commit to events throughout a week, volunteers have said. Former Waterford Week Chairman Timothy Condon said that current economic strain on families means people don't have time to devote to volunteering for the event, which is in its 38th year.

"Things are just changing," said the event's current Chairman Svetlana Amodeo.

Volunteer Jody Nazarchyk, who first became involved with Waterford Week in the early 1990s, explained that summer timing can be hard and families aren't as available as they used to be.

She said that while in the past, a meeting for event organizing might draw 12 to 15 people, it now draws five or six. The week included a parade last year, but it wasn't well attended, and neither was the ball that the event's volunteer coordinators experimented with putting on.

Nazarchyk said she would like to see a weekend scheduled in October, perhaps a harvest festival that uses Waterford High School as a central location.

The idea behind a weekend celebration is that arranging concurrent events in a small area would make it more convenient for residents. As it stands, events are mostly scattered throughout the week.

Amodeo said drawing in 20-somethings is also a priority. To that end, Waterford Week this year includes events geared toward the younger set, such as the community theater production "Rent," which deals with mature themes such as drug abuse.

Event Secretary Celeste Milukas, who organizes the week's variety show, said she might consider a coffeehouse or open mic-style event in the future.

"The place where we've been sorely lacking are the people who are young and vibrant and in between," Amodeo said.

Another challenge in the past few years has been the reconstruction of the high school, according to volunteers. This is the first summer in five years that the school has been available for use. Nazarchyk thinks the reopening may mean events such as the Waterford Lions' annual craft fair may soon return to Waterford Week.

Most events have stayed part of the week, and some new ones have even been added this year, such as Beats for the Balkans, a concert organized by the Waterford Green Party that will benefit the United Nations World Food Program.

The production of "Rent" is the first theater production taking place during Waterford Week in five years, according to high school theater Director Shane Valle.

This year, there will be no parade.

To help them plan future changes to the event, Waterford Week leadership has created an online survey to ask residents what would attract them to the event. The survey asks questions about how residents feel about Waterford, whether they think there is a sense of community, and, if they don't participate in Waterford Week activities, then why not. The survey is available at waterford.week.org.

As Amodeo puts it, volunteers are "trying to meet people's needs."



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