Friday, September 21, 2001
CEF president praises event but ponders Pig 'n Pepper's future
Jeff Brown, president of the Carlisle Education Foundation, has been involved in planning and organizing the Pig 'n Pepper Harvest Festival for the past eight years. This is his second year as co-chair of the event. The 11th annual Pig 'n Pepper, which takes place Columbus Day weekend at the 4-H Fairgrounds in Westford, offers a variety of family-fun activities, music, and great barbecue. All proceeds benefit the Carlisle and Westford Public Schools.
What's new at this year's Pig 'n Pepper?
Over the years we've experimented with a number of ideas for keeping kids entertained, and this year we're pleased to have Radio Disney (1260 AM) broadcasting from the grounds. Radio Disney is the only all-kids radio station. There'll be lots of giveaways, chances to be heard on the radio, and music geared to kids ages four to ten. Along with Radio Disney, we will have our usual pony rides, kid-hopper, and face painting.
Another change is a renewed emphasis on a wider range of food vendors. We're responding to some complaints we heard last year. We expect to have at least twice as many vendors to reduce lines and give everyone a wider number of choices. Of course, we'll have some of the best barbecue in the area, including Redbones of Somerville. They've been an award-winner year after year.
How has the change to the 4-H grounds (the event was moved from Kimball Farm last year) affected the event?
The move was made quite smoothly. The fairgrounds are set up for a big exposition in a way the old Kimball's was not. With more space, we are able to offer our attendees more to do, and also provide much-needed seating for eating and for listening to the great music we'll have. The parking is more accessible, making the transition to and from the event easier. And the fairgrounds are located right between Route 27 and Route 110, convenient for anyone coming from the immediate area or from Route 495. We enjoyed being at Kimball's for many years, and appreciate the commitment the Kimball family made to the event. We're also pleased that when it was time to move on, a location that met all our requirements could be found so close at hand.
What do you have to say to someone considering volunteering for the Pig 'n Pepper?
Speaking personally, my work on the Pig 'n Pepper has been very gratifying. There is such tremendous community spirit. It's wonderful each year to see so many people having fun at the event, and to witness the commitment of the over one hundred volunteers required to pull it off.
It has also been gratifying to do something that so visibly and materially impacts each child's education in Carlisle. Over its first ten years, the event has raised over $400,000 for the Carlisle School. When the event began, the school did not have a library available to the students. ThePig 'n Pepper not only helped reopen the library, but over the years has funded much of the technology at the school. Recently we purchased 20 new computers, software and related supplies for classrooms. We've done that without increasing the financial burden on the community. The beauty of the Pig 'n Pepper is that it allows us to use "other people's money" money we generate from people outside the community.
Looking forward, where do you see the Pig 'n Pepper going over the next couple of years?
This is a real concern to me. As the "old guard" gets ready to move on (and yes, I'm one of them), I worry that there has not been a "new guard" stepping into the leadership roles. In addition, each year it gets harder to recruit volunteers for the festival, and this year is no exception. Where are all the parents of the younger schoolchildren, and the new people moving into town? This event directly benefits the school; here is a chance for people to make a significant difference in the education of these young children. We have done outreach efforts to attract new leadership for the event, but with little result. If this doesn't change, the Pig 'n Pepper will not be able to go forward, and the town will lose a vital source of funds for the schools.
I appeal to anyone with an interest to contact me, Lisa Harris, Laura Snowden or any other CEF member. Whether you want to make a big commitment or a small one, we need your help.
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