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Lack of support may be downfall of Alpine Days

At the end of every summer for the past 30 years, Val-ley residents

have looked forward to attending Alpine Days, the last event of the festival

season to offer a parade, carnival games, music and merchants galore.

Remember the teen dance? The sticky snow cones? The fireworks

display sponsored by the Wyrsch family on one of the last, gorgeously

warm nights before school started?

Those memories are, well, now just memories — the Alpine Days

festival of North Bend will not return next year because of a lack of volunteers.

"I think it's a huge shame," said Susan Burklund, 2000 Alpine

Days festival committee president. "But I think we brought it to a new level."

Burklund was one of just eight volunteers who made this year's

festival happen, and even flourish, with additional children's games and

a more spread-out merchant row.

But even with this year's success, the committee can't go on.

According to longtime Alpine Days committee member

Sue Beauvais, it takes at least 20 volunteers to make a great festival —

without burning the committee members out.

"It`s just too much work for a handful of people," she said.

The committee set a deadline of mid-October for people to respond

to ads they placed in the Valley Record, in the Upper Snoqualmie

Valley Chamber of Commerce newsletter and on fliers handed out around town.

But no one stepped up to the plate, and by this time of year, plans

should already be under way.

As for their budget, Burklund explained that $3,000 was donated to

the Special Olympics, with a little left over in case anyone revives the event.

The committee's story is a familiar one to other small-town

festival committees.

It starts when excited volunteers full of ideas and energy join a

festival committee. They spend time planning, meeting, calling vendors, sending

out contracts, arranging entertainment and seeking donations. This year, it

took $25,000 to run Alpine Days, not to mention the year-round planning.

After a few years on the committee, the number of volunteers

decreases and those left standing notice the committee work increasing,

and their jobs, families and friends start to suffer.

"I think it's just a `volunteerism' thing," Burklund said, explaining

that most volunteer groups she's known have eventually had the same

problems. "The core volunteers seem to be the same people over and over and

I just think new people need to step in."

Beauvais explained that it's satisfying to bring a weekend-long

event from planning stages to fruition.

"You get to the point where you see all the bugs worked out on

Saturday and all the volunteers can look at it and say, `We did that!'" she

said. "There's a lot of pride in ownership with that but I'm not going to

knock myself out for it any more."

Burklund, too, felt the pressure and exhaustion, and needs to devote

her time to her two young children.

This will be the only time in 30 years that the festival will not run,

except for 1994, when a local merchant sponsored the festival instead of

the Alpine Days Committee and called it North Bend Days. Not quite the

same, Beauvais said.

The entire committee made the decision to halt next year's festival,

but that doesn't mean the idea is dead.

Burklund said the committee has kept rights to the festival's name,

will keep its licenses current and has hung on to tents and other necessary items.

"I think that somehow, somebody is going to pick up the torch, but

it's going to be too late to have a good [festival]," Beauvais said.

North Bend Mayor Joan Simpson was saddened by the recent news.

"What's been unique is that it is a community-sponsored event —

and it's part of the whole North Bend history," she said.

Anyone who wants to continue the tradition of planning Alpine Days

— and has the time to commit — should call Susan Burklund at (425)

831-5904.

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