Hagerstown is seeking a new organizer for its annual Jubilee Days festival.  

Robin Nugent told town council members at their May 6 meeting that Nettle Creek Lions Club will not sponsor the festival. However, she emphasized the club isn’t folding and will continue to help with spring, fall and Christmas festivals.

Before the 2023 festival, she said she approached multiple service organizations and asked for their clubs to help or take it over, and there was no interest. After the festival, she had a call-out and three or four people showed interest, but no one has stepped up since then. 

“We just can’t do it,” Nugent said.  

After Nugent left town as clerk-treasurer, she trained other clerks around the state. She found that many community festivals are organized by their town, which serves as the insurance carrier. Those festivals must be self-sustaining, and a committee has to be involved throughout the year, she said. 

Hagerstown officials said employees are especially spread thin during summer months as many want to take vacations, and Nugent agreed that Hagerstown’s employees are tapped. 

Noting the late date, council’s Brian Longbons asked if it might be wise to take a year off and try to get a new committee to rethink the festival. 

Nugent said it might still be feasible to organize a parade or offer a food alley since a few vendors have already expressed interest.  

She’s optimistic it will grow back. 

“Somebody’s going to take it over, somebody’s going to do something — a group, a committee, it may be the whole community comes together and does it rather than just an organization,” Nugent said.

Nugent said it was a very profitable weekend for the Lions Club at one time. However, because it now costs thousands of dollars to rent bounce houses, for instance, student groups can’t afford to take over those expenses if they’d lose money with low attendance or bad weather. 

Nugent suggested new organizers might consider moving Jubilee Days and/or class reunions earlier in the summer to avoid conflicts, now that school already is in session by the mid-August festival. She ran into resistance when suggesting that previously.

Also that night, council honored Heart of Hagerstown, led by Gary Schuette, for the successes of solar eclipse festivities. Schuette said attendees came from 18 states. Although fewer guests came than predicted, collaborations led to events being offered and hospitality being shown.   

In other business

  • Heart of Hagerstown is planning townwide garage sales on May 18. Latex paint recycling will be offered July 20 at Nettle Creek Hardware. 
  • Council approved Wayne County’s multihazard mitigation plan. 
  • Council introduced an ordinance to amend water works rates/charges. Instead of raising electric rates, water bills would increase by about 10% (about $3 per month). Hagerstown applied for a $700,000 grant toward replacing old water lines. Current water rates were low for grant eligibility and need to increase to meet requirements.
  • Police Chief Keith Folkner toured two railroad crossings with rail officials, who took photos of problem areas. He learned new rail lines are being installed in July and crossing areas should be redone later that month. Residents whose vehicles receive damage from tracks can contact Hagerstown police for information about filing claims.
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A version of this article appeared in the May 15 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.