One month countdown to the Herring Run Festival begins 3-21-15

One month countdown to the Herring Run Festival begins
Despite the runaway success of last year's event, organizers say operations should go even smoother the second time around

SouthCoast Today

By Matthew Ferreira/Staff Writer

Posted Mar. 21, 2015 at 4:32 PM

MIDDLEBORO — Last year, the first Herring Run Festival brought in thousands of visitors from near and far to share in one of Middleboro's best kept secrets — the town's herring run at Oliver Mill Park. And while it might be difficult to believe after the snowiest winter on record, the second annual Herring Run Festival is just around the corner on April 11 and 12. As the event enters its final month of planning, organizers say visitors can expect another great event this year, this time with the added benefit of last year's learning experience.
Selectman and Tourism Committee member Leilani Dalpe, who has been one of the event's major organizers and proponents since its inception, says the success of last year's event was the result of not only dedication, but good organization.
"When it came to putting everything together, we really compartmentalized, having certain people overseeing certain aspects of the festival, and any volunteer who was working in a certain area would have to report to the person overseeing that area," Dalpe said. "The trick is having people do what they're good at. For instance, Anne Cavanaugh, being an entertainer, knows a lot about getting performers to come in, so we put her in charge in entertainment. Sherri Swindle is an event organizer with a specialty in trade shows, so she's been in charge of getting vendors and everything to do with merchandise. We found you really get things done this way."
Even with the runaway success of last year's festival, Dalpe said there were a couple of kinks that the Tourism Committee thought could be worked out this time around, the main one being the transportation of visitors from event parking at the KOA Campground, across Route 44 to the festival. Because of the location of parking relative to the festival across the busy section of Route 44, which is virtually impassable to pedestrians even on an average day, a shuttling system was considered a must for the event to be possible.
"After last year's festival we got together and kind of critiqued the event and tried to identify things we could have done better. My husband Glenn Montepert who's also on Tourism, he actually made a manual for all our procedures," Dalpe said. "As far as issues, we didn't have a lot of things fall through the cracks last year, but we did agree that the shuttle system could have run a lot smoother. Within the first couple of hours the shuttles were backed up. That's not going to happen this year. We're making sure to have 10 more shuttles than we think we need. Plymouth and Brockton bus companies are supplying us with open air shuttles, which actually transport more people than the ones we had last year, and it will be nice for people to enjoy the spring air as they ride over."
In the event that visitors do find themselves with a bit of a wait for a shuttle ride, another new feature being introduced this year will be children's activities and displays setup at the KOA near the shuttle waiting area, Dalpe noted.
Tourism Committee vice-chair Sherri Swindle says there were efforts to give the arts a greater presence at this year's festival.
"We had some great vendors last year but something we wanted to do this year was branch out and bring in more craft and art-related vendors in. We really wanted to give local people a chance to show off and sell what they make whether its art, photography, etc.," Swindle said. "So there will be those types of vendors, the many food vendors, a lot of the merchandise people from last year, and then the other big piece of this is education."
Educational resources at the festival will include a Civil War encampment exhibit, lectures from local historian Ted Eayrs, and booths for the Middleborough-Lakeville Herring Fishery Commission, Conservation Commission, Mass. Maritime Fisheries, The Nature Conservancy, Buzzard's Bay Coalition, New England Coastal Wildlife Alliance, and other groups, to pass out literature and share knowledge with visitors directly.

"The Middleborough-Lakeville Herring Fishery Commission will have a table there with educational information about the herring migration and will also have video footage of herring swimming through the ladder, courtesy of the Mass. Marine Fisheries video counting project," Middleborough-Lakeville Herring Fishery Commission chair Dave Cavanaugh said. "We certainly hope to contact many visitors and be available to provide educational material and answer all questions."
As for the herring themselves, Cavanaugh said Monday that none had shown up as of yet, but that he expected them to start coming around "any day now."
While there's still a month of planning and much to accomplish within that month, Dalpe says she is confident that this year's Herring Run Festival will go off without a hitch.
"Last year we were inundated with far more people than we were expecting. This year, we'll be ready for anything," she said.
Dalpe also noted that Herring Run Festival t-shirts and coffee mugs will be on sale at the event this year by popular demand from guests last year, for $10 apiece.
The 2nd annual Herring Run Festival runs April 11 and 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oliver Mill Park. To stay up to date with new developments on the event, search "2nd Annual Herring Run Festival" on Facebook.

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