AMHERST - The annual Four Fathers Festival in Amherst will be improved to better focus on the cultural and historic heritage of the town said town councilor Robert Angel at a council meeting on Monday.
The festival committee felt the festival needed to be more of a celebration of cultural diversity in the town and the broad heritage embedded in the long history of Amherst.
As a result, the committee has given the Arts, Culture and heritage community the lead role in organizing this year’s event.
Angel said in order to make the festival more enjoyable, it is important to look towards the various grassroots programs that are willing to help return it to a more organic setting.
“We feel in order for the committee to develop, it really has to come from the grassroots. It has to be from the people with the interests in enhancing the annual festivities and atmosphere,” said Angel.
The committee has also decided the timing of the Four Fathers activities needs to be changed to September, to coordinate with the plan to make September Arts, Culture and Heritage month.
Arts, Culture and Heritage coordinator Andrew MacGregor said this makes the activities more relevant to the current time of year.
“I think the direction is to sort of take it out of that one-weekend and three-day-stretch and move it on to a longer overall focus on arts and heritage. It will operate better this way,” said MacGregor.
Plans are underway for an 18th-century Encampment during the second weekend of September, and a Four Fathers Dinner to be held at the Cumberland Museum on Sept. 30.
MacGregor said the new-and-improved festival will be a good indicator of how other yearly community events and festivals can follow by example in the future.
“I would like to see more people involved, and more people take ownership of some events, or even possibly propose new events or improve others in ways the town and I haven’t thought of yet.”
Angel said while this festival is based around the culture and history of Amherst, there is no reason why this development cannot have an influence on other festivals in other townships around Cumberland County this year.
In addition to the Four Fathers planning, the committee agrees there are opportunites to grow and support other events in the community, including the Cross Border Challenge, Victorian Christmas and Winter Festival.
“Basically, we’re looking at the town issue, and what happens within the town, but that’s not to say a lot of the heritage and cultural things that occur here in Amherst don’t come from people and places around the county.”
Meetings involving representatives from the community events will be organized in February to determine the plans for these groups, identify any challenges/issues and determine the the level of support they require to be successful.