Lending a hand for a good cause

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For 17 years, the Texas Mushroom Festival has been the premier event in Madisonville and Madison County.

For one day, Madisonville is the center of the Brazos universe. There's food, and wine, and beer, and arts and crafts, vendors, music, oh, yeah, and mushrooms.

This brings in so much to the area - not just people, but tax dollars as well. But on the people side, well, think of it like this: on average about 15,000 people attend the festival, which for Madisonville, a town with a population of 4,500, an expansion to almost five times its normal size.

The income from this event goes to many things - the festival itself, the Madisonville Area Revitalization Initiative, scholarships, etc. It's really the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year.

To pull off an event like this, it takes the combined efforts of a whole lot of people. Each separate event that makes up the whole needs to be handled by a caring, and yes, unpaid, volunteer, and there needs to be a governing board that directs all this.

If you are a fan of the festival, or someone who is passionate about Madisonville and Madison County, a perfect way to express that love is by helping. Many of the volunteer positions are for the day only; the director spots take just a few hours a week to pull off.

The current board, comprised of many people who have served for some time, needs some help. They've shown their love for the festival, and are looking for others to give them a hand - to help the festival grow, to keep it and Madisonville on the map, and to bring fresh ideas.

Sadly, that's not happening.

There's really only two options here: Step up and help, or let the festival fade away. There still will be something, as the vendors more than likely will continue under a different banner, but that lustre, that thing exclusively Madisonville, will be gone, and whatever's left will be diminished. (Incidentally, that same malady is afflicting the Madison County Museum, and will have the same effect.)

If that seems a bit hyperbolic, consider this: there was at one time a thriving, vibrant art council in town, which held its last meeting last year, as no one stepped up to keep it going.

Volunteering can be difficult, and sometimes thankless, but the great feeling of giving to your community, of creating something truly memorable, can't be overstated.

•This week's Headline of Note comes from chron.com, the website of the Houston Chronicle. It's more of a pun, really, or one of those groaner jokes heard at parties: Flight carrying more than 80 plumbers grounded due to toilet trouble.

Sometimes these things just write themselves.

Tony Farkas is publisher of the Madisonville Meteor.

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