It was Aristotle who said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. That describes perfectly the 2017 Belgrade Festival of Lights. It was not one individual or one group who made the event successful, it was everyone contributing “their part” - their skill, their resource, their donation, their time, their presence. And when all those parts came together to make a whole, it created a very special event that was gifted to Belgrade. Here are ten “parts” of the festival and the Belgrade Community Coalition’s (BCC) appreciation to all of you who made it happen!
The first part was from the Belgrade Chamber of Commerce when they asked if the BCC would like to take on the event and to Rick Phillips and Debbie Finkbeiner who stepped up with their enthusiasm, ideas, and willingness to help get the ball rolling.
The parts continued to come together as numerous volunteers met each month. A big thanks goes out to all of them with a special thank you to Adryann Baldwin, Annie Aschim, Bev Tompers, Brad Berg, Brynn Dellwo, Chiara Schober, Deb Finkbeiner, and Stacy Konkol who stepped up to be committee leaders. Other volunteers answered our cries and stepped in to help for event day. These include numerous individuals, the BHS Cross Country team, Girl Scouts, Belgrade Venture Crew, multiple high school groups including Key Club and Art Club, photographer Kelley Wlodkowski, face painter Pricilla Perez, VFW Post 12112, Belgrade Church of Christ, and many more. Over 100 volunteers came together to make this event happen and they are the second part of the whole.
After months of fundraising with the main objective of having LIGHTS, our Santa Claus appeared in the form of a Belgrade alum. Josh Knoedler, owner of Birddog Lighting, donated all the new lights you see downtown. Ron Finkbeiner and Mike Meis were Santa’s helpers and deserve an enormous thank you for hanging the lights along with our lighting committee. Angels are also among us as we honor the memories of loved ones, string by string, wrapping the tree trunks that line the Main Street parking lot.
From George Hoffman with the Belgrade News, to Paul Browning from 99.1, and Kenneth Webb from KBZK – the media was part four as they provided free and discounted publicity for the event.
The fifth part of the gift is a big one - the sponsors and donors. Thousands of dollars and multiple prizes were donated from local businesses and individuals. We thank all of them for their support and know we would not have had such a grand event without their help. Special thanks goes out to our top monetary sponsors – TMC, Inc. and Bozeman Health, Belgrade Clinic.
This part came from Ted Barkley, Steve Klotz, EJ Clark, and all the people at the City of Belgrade, Belgrade Police Department, and Central Valley Fire. They were extremely helpful and patient with this freshman crew. They also went out of their way to get us hooked up with power downtown. We are also grateful to the Chamber for their guidance and use of power and their building.
The seventh part came unexpectedly but we were immensely grateful. Jo Jones from Milestone Gallery rallied her shop neighbors and they took charge to create their own piece of the Festival. Jo started something great and we hope other businesses will follow in her footsteps during future Festivals.
In case you didn’t know, we have some amazing retail businesses and restaurants! Montana Camp, Sacks, Sister’s Gluten Free Bakery, Rustic Edge Salon, Wendy Marquis Art, Re:Alignment, and Healthy Out West all opened their doors for people to check out their goods and services as well as enjoy a place to come in from the cold. The Mint, Spotted Horse Café, Rhino Casino, and Center Ice all had warm drinks and/or hot food on hand.
Without the participation of the Belgrade Community Library, who is a Festival of Lights staple, the night wouldn’t have been the same. Nor would it have been without our local churches and nonprofits who spread holiday cheer up and down the streets.
The final part, which when combined with all the other parts, created the whole. The whole which was greater than all the parts on their own. This part was you! Your smiling faces, your joy, your families, your kindness, your holiday spirit, and your desire to make Belgrade stronger. You were the final part we needed to create this gift. For this gift wasn’t just an event. It was a building block to a renewed town, an enforcement to community pride, an excuse to get to know your town and your neighbors, and so much more.
Thank you to everyone for bringing your parts to make the greater whole. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Tiffany Maierle and the entire Belgrade Community Coalition team
(Article written for the Belgrade News)