Friends of Shelby Farms Park (FOSFP), the group that's been fighting to keep the county from splitting Shelby Farms with a major north-south road, is working to increase use of the park. They've created a volunteer program, and they're planning a yearly festival.
"We want to get people thinking about the future of Shelby Farms Park beyond the road," said Laura Adams, president of FOSFP. "We want to bring more people out here from all over the county, and the way to do that is to develop programs and opportunities to connect the people to the land."
The volunteer program kicked off in April, assigning different tasks to volunteers each month. In April and throughout May, they'll be painting trash cans, planting and mulching flower beds at the visitors center, and surveying park users.
Future projects include restocking fish in Patriot Lake and maintaining trails. They're also looking for volunteers to help organize the annual festival and lead nature hikes.
"The park works on a shoestring budget of $700,000 for the entire year," said Adams, "so it's very difficult for them to get some things done, like clearing out the brush from last year's storm." Adams said once things are up and running smoothly they'll get more ambitious about the projects.
"You Gotta Have Park," the tentative name for the annual festival, would be a park-wide, one-day event that would include a bike race, a foot race, park tours, live music, a picnic contest, a kite-flying contest, and basketball and kickball tournaments. Planning is still in the works, but a date for the event is tentatively set for October 16th.
"That's our target date, but it's a very large-scale festival, so we'll either have to scale down our first year to be able to get our hands around it, or else we'll have to push it out another year to give us more time to plan," said Adams.