Caldwell: Festival shows community strengths

The proverbial seal has been broken on my first Beer Cheese Festival; and it “tasted” great!

It was awesome to be a part of something that is so wholly Clark County and has such strong roots with the people who call our community home.

Without a doubt, I consumed more beer cheese in about a six-hour span than I had in the first 41 years of my life.

The downtown streets were filled with Winchester residents and visitors from across the region who all wanted to show their community pride and, of course, get a taste of the festival’s namesake.

So many businesses and organizations really embraced the event and took advantage of the massive foot traffic.

Making it more powerful was that the energy of the crowd was positive and energetic. I appreciate my leadership team here at The Sun — Terah Hatton, Lana Smith and Whitney Leggett — and a few family members for helping us operate a booth that allowed us to talk with hundreds of readers, or potential readers.

In many ways, it was also uplifting to see so many people gathered in such a small area with virtually no problems. I commend Winchester Police Chief Kevin Palmer and his staff for doing a great job. They were present and very visible, yet managed to blend in at the same time in order to not create an overwhelming presence.

But, perhaps most impressive to me, was coming to work Monday morning and seeing how clean the downtown streets were because, I’ll tell you a secret, they were not that clean when I left Saturday evening.

In fact, they were a downright disaster.

So, although it remains disappointing that some people cannot pick up after themselves or take their trash with them, it was amazing to see the result of what I thought had to be a massive cleanup effort.

You literally couldn’t tell that nearly 20,000 people had been there just 48 hours earlier.

This may sound like nothing to celebrate but I assure that it doesn’t always happen with community festivals like this.

So, I started asking around about how this was possible.

Mayor Ed Burtner took it as a great point of pride that the cleanup effort was so good and made sure to spread lots of accolades for those involved including the city’s public works department, Winchester Municipal Utilities, a work crew from the Clark County Detention Center and volunteers from Mt. Zion United Methodist Church youth group.

Each of these groups and organizations deserve praise for a job well done. I want to say “thank you” to them and all the organizers and volunteers who make this festival happen. I look forward to other events including the county fair, the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival and more.

Clark County clearly takes tremendous pride in its events and I cannot wait to “taste” some more.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Winchester Sun and Winchester Living magazine. He can be reached at (859) 759-0095 or by email at mike.caldwell@winchestersun.com.