Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TOP STORY >> Sherwood is looking to its big 35th fest

Leader staff writer

Preparations are winding down for the 35th annual Sherwood Fest at Sherwood Forest. It is the city’s biggest event of the year.

The free family-oriented festival off Maryland Avenue includes entertainment, craft booths, food and kids’ activities.

It takes months of planning and coordinating, mostly by volunteers, and the city’s event planner, Amy Jackson.

For Jackson, this year’s gathering is just her second since coming down from New York to taking the event planner’s job. She’s quick to point out that she is not a New Yorker. “I was born and raised in northeast Arkansas, went to Hendrix and worked in Little Rock before my four-year stint in New York.”

She came back because she missed her family and the calmer lifestyle of the South. “And being on the wrong end of downsizing just hastened my return,” she added. “It was a blessing in disguise.”

“Sherwood is great. I really enjoy the work, the good people and the strong community support,” she said.

She said this year’s Sherwood Fest is going to be bigger and better than ever. “I know you hear that all the time, but it’s true,” she said.

The chili cook-off, which had been the night before Sherwood Fest, is now on Saturday; entertainment starts at 9 a.m. and runs through the day.

“We have six local acts, all donating their time and effort. They know the festival will be a great venue for them,” Jackson said.

Our vendors will be set up inside and outside and sell a variety of items such as handbags, makeup, homemade soaps and lotions, local honey, all types of jewelry, birdfeeders, candles and face painting.

Food includes deep fried sweets, turkey legs, Polish sausage, chili, ice cream and shaved ice.

“Sherwood Fest is a growing event and the biggest event the city offers. This year the Sherwood Sharks are sponsoring a family 5K run/walk. The Sherwood Rotary Club is sponsoring a chili cook-off. Centennial Bank continues to host the cute kids contest every year that brings in a big crowd,” Jackson said, adding, “We will also have four local dance teams performing.” The entertainment line-up includes Sherwood’s own The Fragile Elite, Billy D and the First Time Offenders, Iudicia, According to Her, Crystal Gray and Janet, Denise and Bruce.

“Since this is a family event there will be a lot of kids’ activities – arts/crafts, Mommy Magic, guitar hero contest, climbing wall, inflatable houses and more,” Jackson said.

The complete list of activities and entertainment is on the website www.sherwoodfestar.com.

Even though the festival is just days away, more vendors and activities are being slated and more help is always needed, Jackson said.

“We need more volunteers for Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. to help with set up and break down,” she said.

The animal shelter, which will have animals at the festival, can also use some help.

The festival takes months to plan, but it is not the only activity on Jackson’s agenda. She also works to bring residents and visitors to the annual fishing derby, Easter egg hunt, the July Fourth festivities, the Halloween carnival, the Enchanted Forest Trail of Lights, the festival of Trees and Breakfast with Santa.

“The Sherwood Advertising and Promotions Commission sponsors most of these events. They give back to the community by providing these mostly free events to the community,” Jackson said.

Sherwood Fest and all the other city events wouldn’t be successful without the help of all the committee members as well as sponsors, city staff and volunteers.

Even though the days are long right now finalizing all the details for Sherwood Fest, Jackson said, “I’m very happy working for the Parks and Recreation Department and the people within the department. I’ve learned a lot about working in city government and feel I’ve brought a lot to the table with my past work experience. Sherwood is a great community with a lot of people who work hard to make it even better.”

When she does get some time off Jackson travels and dotes on her young nephew. “I travel as much as I can, spent my birthday in San Francisco and returning to New York City in the fall to visit friends, shop and enjoy the food and culture. I also have a 1-year old nephew that I’m absolutely crazy about.”