Getting along

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By The Staff

Marion County Country Ham Days has been a source of community pride for decades. This year was no different as tens of thousands of people arrived en masse in downtown Lebanon for another successful festival.

The numbers reported during last week's follow-up meeting confirm, that overall, this year's event was another success.

But of course, there is always room for improvement.

Any time you have a lot of people involved in an event - and with Ham Days, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people involved in one way or another - it's inevitable that there will be disagreements.

Unfortunately, some of those disagreements became public fodder prior to the festival. When Ham Days Committee members went to the Lebanon City Council to make some requests, some downtown businesses were both visibly and vocally opposed.

We're hoping we don't see a replay of that again next year.

Local businesses owners were concerned that the Ham Days Committee's requests would affect their ability to make money. The Ham Days Committee members were trying to help the festival run more smoothly. We can understand why both sides were concerned.

At one point, the prospect of a lawsuit was raised, which seemed to only heighten the tension.

Next year, however, we hope the differences can be resolved a bit more civilly.

Last week, a suggestion was offered that we think will help alleviate some of the conflicting interests. That suggestion was to end the entertainment on the Main Street stage at 10 p.m. Saturday night (or sooner) during Ham Days weekend. We want to add our voices in support of this idea.

Based on what we've heard from one of our own employees (who was the stage manager during Ham Days), by 10 p.m. on Saturday most of the Ham Days crowd had moved to local restaurants and bars, if they hadn't just decided to go home instead.

We appreciate that the committee wants to provide a full weekend of events and activities, and the weekend is still pretty full even without one more music act that night. Besides saving on expenses for another band, the earlier stop time provides volunteers an opportunity to relax. We're certain they will appreciate it, especially considering how rare those opportunities are while Ham Days is in full swing.

At the same time, we hope downtown businesses will be more proactive in working with the Ham Days Committee in 2011. The committee meets year-round, and it is always looking for more help. We encourage downtown business owners to work with the committee and, perhaps, even to join the committee themselves.

For the average Ham Days visitor, the squabbles between the committee and the businesses probably didn't affect their enjoyment of the rides, the contests or the food.

Nevertheless, we're convinced that it would be better for everyone if the Ham Days Committee and the downtown businesses are on the same page next September.