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Good Morning friend!
The Good Life: Innovation and young energy enriches us all
July 18, 2013 Lisa Betz   

Read more by Lisa Betz
Oregon Trail Days is once again in the books. The beloved 92-year-old festival gets better each year. How refreshing it is to have new events, improved events, and needed changes big and small.

I know there are some in the community who miss the way things used to be, such as the convenience of a short walk from their homes to the carnival and chili cook-off events, yet I heard from the owner of the carnival himself that they love the Five Rocks location because it enables them to fit more rides into the space. Of course, more rides translates to more revenue for the carnival and more fun for the community too. I love the fact that Five Rocks Amphitheater is being utilized. It is, after all, a community gem that has been severely underused in past years.

Iím a firm believer in change being a good thing. Without change even the best event can grow stale. Some time-honored events are on the verge of doing just that.

One example of this was when the Gering Merchants moved the Arts Festival location to the county courthouse lawn among the beautiful old shade trees. That was an inspired idea from Donna Cozad.

There has been a clear trend in the last couple of years that I find encouraging. New events are being created that are completely different and highly creative.

One example of a new thing that has realized great success is CAPWNís Zombie Walk last month. What a cool idea. Zombies have captured imaginations far and wide through the entertainment industry. What a clever idea for a fundraiser in support the important programs at CAPWN.

Then we had the United Wayís innaugural Color Dash in early July. This is another fantastic example of something new and refreshing. Everyone clearly had a good time participating in these new events.

What is it about getting gooped up in zombie make up or being awash in colored paint that translates to a roaring good time? Thereís something powerful in the idea of getting dirty and having fun.

This is why the Mud Volleyball tournament is also an inspired idea. The crowd was certainly out for it. Everyone captured by our photographers appears to be having a wonderful time.

Another cool new OTD event is the Graffiti in the Grass contest.

Where did these new ideas come from? Interesting question. The answer is this, young people, and community members who have traveled outside of our Valley and seen other communities implement similar events.

Community leaders would be smart to take note of this recent trend. There is no harm in revamping old traditions nor in trying innovative new ideas and events.

If there is one thing that Iíve noticed as a newspaper editor for the last two years, itís that everything tends to repeat itself here. As an editor making weekly coverage assignments and laying out the pages week after week for two years, Iíve noticed that very little really changes in our community.

At this time we do this, and then we do this, and then such and such is around the corner.

We in the Valley are creatures of habit. Maybe every human being is like this or perhaps it has to do with the predominantly German heritage here that causes people to resist change.

There is a tendency here for people create territories for themselves and never want to give up their turf. This is a shame because community events are not about the person leading the charge, they are about the success of the event and doing something people will enjoy that enriches our lives here in the Valley.

Iím proud of the up-and-coming leadership appearing in the Valley. Youthful energy is needed here and for more than the muscle it takes to set up chairs and tables or to bake cookies and treats.

Young people have incredible ideas that ought to be heard, supported and implemented. Sometimes an idea doesnít pan out, but like the Gering Merchants decided with their Make Gering Shine Tailgating Party, sometimes what seems a good idea doesnít pay off in the long run.

We musnít be afraid to give a new idea a couple of years to thrive before deciding that it isnít going to work. Things take time to develop and be perfected, like moving the Chili Cook-off to Five Rocks. Last year there were spatial and parking kinks and they were worked out. The move is a fresh start and leaves room for the growth of even more events out there.

I am proud of the Oregon Trail Days Committee for their innovative approach to so many time-honored traditions in the last couple of years.

Keep rolling with these new ideas, and this goes for all committees working to make the Valley a better place for all of us by creating new things to experience here.

Letís get the young people to participate in meaningful ways. One shouldnít have to sit in planning meetings for years and years with their mouth shut before someone will take their ideas seriously. Few young people have the patience for that and why should they?
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