Volunteer Organizers Of Gordon Good Neighbor Days Quit En Masse, Future of 62-Year Event In Question
The signature event for a Northland community might not happen ever again. Good Neighbor Days - the spotlight community event for the community of Gordon, Wisconsin for the last 62 years - is an an impasse over a disagreement between volunteer organizers and the Town Board.
All of the members of the volunteer organization committee for the festival resigned - en masse - at the Gordon Town Board meeting held August 16. According to the details shared in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall] they came prepared; in addition to the letter or resignation, the committee "turned over keys, shirts - even the instructions to the Gordon Good Neighbor Days Facebook page".
The dispute had its origins on the 4th of July over fireworks. While the committee organizers the events, the Town of Gordon signs the contract with the fireworks vendor and obtains the liability insurance.
In years past, the festival was always scheduled to happen during the weekend closest to the 4th of July - with the "fireworks capping off the Saturday activities at dusk". This summer, that Saturday was July 2. Unbeknownst to the organizers of the celebration, the Town of Gordon had booked the fireworks for July 4 and hadn't told the committee about it. According to that article in the Telegram, Good Neighbor Days organizers found out that there wouldn't be fireworks on that night (July 2) "[w]ith the crowd gathered and the band playing".
It was left to the volunteer committee members to announce that the fireworks wouldn't be happening according to schedule - and would instead happen two nights later. Good Neighbor Days attendees didn't take the news very well and took it out on the volunteer organizers. That left the committee in the position of fielding the complaints for something that was (done) outside of their control.
Later, committee members noticed that the the amount of money spent on the fireworks was lower than in years past; this was also news to the volunteers.
That discrepancy sparked a request by the committee to see the financials. The group was met with "conflicting financial reports that lacked itemization and clarity. [In addition], there was no sense of urgency from the board....and no apology".
A review of the financial information that was disclosed spurred additional questions from the committee. The main concern there was the fact that the committee believed that they were working each years event, accruing left over funds to be used as seed money in the future; when in fact, any remaining balance always went back to the bottom line of the budget for the Town of Gordon:
"The town provides a starting budget of $10,000 to the committee each year....and the volunteers are responsible for raising the rest. They thought they were building up any surplus to make the event self-sustaining."
At this point, Good Neighbors Days has no one left to plan it; the entire committee resigned. Usually plans for the next summer start almost immediately after that years event. That's not happening right now. And, "the September golf scramble fundraiser the group holds annually will not take place this year".
Even though the organizing committee has resigned, Town of Gordon officials have suggested that they're moving forward with the event; they're also suggesting former committee members look to get re-involved. Craig Golembiewski Jr - with the Town of Gordon - said that "community members should watch the town website and Gordon Good Neighbors Day Facebook page for information about volunteer opportunities on the Parks and Recreation Committee and the Gordon Good Neighbor Days Committee".