Volunteers lifeblood of thriving fair

Fallfest that draws 60,000 to Westminster raises $20,000 for charity

September 22, 2000|By Maria Blackburn | Maria Blackburn,SUN STAFF

Without volunteers at Westminster's annual Fallfest, there wouldn't be anyone to pick up trash, sell tickets to the Ferris Wheel or teach children how to stuff scarecrows.

Without volunteers, Fallfest which started Wednesday, probably couldn't raise $20,000 for a handful of local charities, money that's used to support therapeutic horse riding, anti-drug campaigns and programs for the developmentally disabled, among others.

"No volunteers, no Fallfest," said Ronald J. Schroers, Westminster's recreation director who oversees the Fallfest executive board.

The annual five-day festival in City Park - which draws 60,000 people and runs through Sunday - might be sponsored by the city of Westminster, but it's the responsibility of 450-plus volunteers to plan, set up and staff the event. And for the past 22 years - ever since Fallfest started, in fact - Roberta Kasik has donated thousands of hours of her time organizing and working at the festival.

A member of the seven-member executive board that meets year-round to plan Fallfest, Kasik, 44, is responsible for doing everything from getting the entertainment on stage on time to making sure there are enough cups for the water cooler at the volunteer check-in station. She hangs signs. She loads ice onto trucks. She does whatever needs to be done.

And she doesn't even live in Westminster.

Kasik, who lives in Randallstown with her husband Brian, grew up in Westminster. She became involved in the festival in 1978 when she was the manager of the East Main Street hobby store her parents owned. The store has since closed, but Kasik stayed with the festival, captivated by its unique practice of giving its profits away. This year, the event benefits six local charities, including 4-H Therapeutic Riding and the Westminster Kiwanis Club.

"It's a great community event," said Kasik, a slight woman with sky-blue eyes; straight, waist-length blond hair and a clipboard covered with lists of things to do that never seems to be far out of reach. "We're all involved in this for a bigger cause."

Since January, Kasik and the rest of the planning committee have been meeting bimonthly. Once summer starts, the group meets more often to work out details. By the time Fallfest arrives, Kasik and other members of the executive board often arrive four hours before gates open and don't return home until after midnight.

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