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The Greater Alliance Carnation Festival is the city's signature summer event, and festival organizers are already planning for the 2015 event, scheduled for Aug. 6-16.
Sue Grove, who was president of the festival board for the past two years and will continue as chairman of the Pageant Committee, was proud of not only the success of the 2014 event, but also the response by townspeople and visitors.
"We want to keep what works -- building on what is a strong foundation -- but we also want to be proactive in response to comments we receive from people who attend the festival," said Grove.
She noted that improved transportation to Days in the Park was the result of concerns the board heard from citizens who had issues getting to the park.
"We worked really hard on that as a board," said Grove, "because it's important that folks who want to attend festival events be able to do so."
Another positive change was working with Channel 11 to record music at the Rib Fest and Days in the Park. Those programs are then aired by Channel 11 throughout the festival.
"As a board, we want to be sensitive to the pulse of the community," said Grove, "and we don't take it lightly. The end result is a more successful festival because more people are able to enjoy it."
Looking ahead, the 2015 festival -- for which Danielle Caserta will assume the position as board president -- is more about improving what is already in place, rather than creating new events or eliminating anything.
"We are looking at a few things," said Grove. "We've (previously) added some events before the actual festival dates, and there's a sense that we want to look at moving them back into the dates of the actual festival. We're still exploring some of those ideas."
Grove is especially pleased with the initiative the board took last year in the publication of the Scarlet Carnation Book, a coloring book that was given to Alliance City Schools students as a way to educate them about the flower and Alliance's role in its history. There are plans to expand the program to other school districts, and Grove is hoping the state legislature will approve funding for the program.
Grove said the board was also pleased with the display contest that was inaugurated last year. That program gave businesses the opportunity for promotion before and during the festival. "Without question, we are grateful for the support of our donor sponsors and all the businesses in town who support the festival," said Grove, "and we wanted to have a way to recognize them."
She also pointed to the success of the Flite Test, which introduced drone demonstrations. The return of the Style Show and Luncheon was also received positively, said Grove.
"The weather cooperated for the most part," she said. "We did get some rain before Days in the Park, but the Parks Department did a wonderful job and got that area ready. It was squishy, but not muddy."
Grove said she was grateful to serve as board president for two years. Highlighting her final festival was a proclamation, presented to the festival board by Alliance Mayor Alan Andreani and signed by Gov. John Kasich, in recognition of the festival's 55th year.
"We would not have a festival without, one, the hard work of our board and committee members," she said, "and two, our donor sponsors. And three, just as importantly, all the people who come out and take part in the events and come back to Alliance to enjoy the festival.
"It was a wonderful opportunity to represent our city and the home of the scarlet carnation," she said. "It's been a whirlwind."