It’s been a while since I’ve written in this blog, but the Oktoberfest required a bit of work and as a result some of my other obligations were put on hold for the event. And my mother-in-law was visiting from Hungary– which brings me to the subject of this blog entry. While my mother-in-law was here she witnessed me in knee deep in the preparation for Oktoberfest. Fetching pumpkins and cornstalks, talking on the phone with vendors and contributors and meeting with the volunteers. She commended the efforts of the volunteers and the generous supporters of the event; she then recounted how in Hungary before the the fall of Communism such a desire showed individual initiative which was scorned. New ideas had to come from the party– if you weren’t part of the party you were out of luck (my in-laws never belonged to the Communist Party). My mother-in-law then proceeded to describe the numerous festivals that now occur in Hungary; there are palinka (moonshine) festivals, garlic festivals, goulash festivals and half-naked Santas running throughout the streets of Budapest for cystic fibrosis. Such events were unheard of twenty-five years ago.
My point in this blog is that while the Oktoberfest isn’t really even close to necessary for the survival of the Lansdale Library (it generates $5,000 which is only 1% of the Library’s entire budget), it is an opportunity for a resident or local business (just look at a few of the forty-two banners– in the photo above) to have a direct and tangible say in where his or her money goes, which therefore creates ownership in a community– something that was lacking in Hungary before 1989 because theoretically, the government owned everything. Whether it is the Oktoberfest, the hugely successful Lansdale Craft Beer Festival, the Mardi Gras Parade, the Car Show Under the Lights, Lansdale Day, Manna on Main Street 5K runs, Bike Night or Founders’ Day, these events create ownership in the community and through ownership comes caring and through caring comes a desirable place to live.