Year after year, volunteers are the backbone of street fair, chili cook-off festival
by Bart Mendoza
Published - 06/21/13 - 11:39 AM | 2172 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The single-most important aspect of the Ocean Beach Street Fair is volunteerism. It simply wouldn’t be possible to stage the street fair or other civic events without the tireless dedication of those who toil behind the scenes for no pay and, in large part, without any desire for recognition of their selfless service.

Many volunteers intentionally shy away from the spotlight when it comes to kudos and media exposure.

According to Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, there is a 35-member Street Fair Planning Committee. But on top of that, there will be around 140 volunteers on the day of the festival to keep things running smoothly.

“We order 175 shirts [for volunteers] each year and we use all but about five or 10 of them,” she said.

Volunteers take care of everything from manning information booths to assisting at stages or selling raffle tickets to raise funds for the annual Ocean Beach Fourth of July fireworks display. Knox said many people volunteer year after year out of a sense of civic duty.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community,” she said.

One key volunteer is event chairwoman Barbara Iacometti, who also serves as president of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association. She considers the street fair to be the town’s showcase.

“It’s such a great community event that really brings a lot of money into the area,” said Iacometti. “It’s really a great thing to be a part of.”

As part of her commitment as chairwoman, Iacometti said it’s all about organization, paperwork and planning before the event. On the day of the street fair, she prepares to be called upon for any manner of situations.

“Anytime there are things that aren’t going quite right, I can smooth things over quickly and get things organized,” she said.

While it all makes for a long day, she said she enjoys watching the ebb and flow of activity.

“I come out at 3 in the morning and I get to watch it all get set up as the people from the bars are going home,” she said. “It’s great watching people come out and enjoy what Ocean Beach has to offer. I usually stay until 10 p.m.”

She praised all the volunteers for their key contributions.

“They are what makes this all possible. They’re important,” Iacometti said, who credits the success of the event to a group effort.

“We couldn’t do it without the people who come out and donate four hours of their time,” she said. “They are really what makes the street fair work.”

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