"GREENSBORO, N.C. – Grassroots Productions Limited, Inc., the organization that has staged the Fun Fourth Festival and Festival of Lights for 23 years, will wind down operations by late summer 2016, according to Sam Hummel, president of the group´s Board of Directors.
The community festivals and events the group has presented will be handed over to others thanks to partnerships cultivated over the years.
"Grassroots was established in 1979 to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse" said Hummel. "At the time, no other organization existed to do this. “
Grassroots held a national playwriting competition in 1980 and in March, 1981, celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse with its production of the original play "Rise and Fight Again," which interpreted the battle period. Following the successful Bicentennial celebration, Grassroots continued with initiatives that foster interest in Guilford County history and civic events.
"Grassroots' Executive Director Betty Cone, a tireless volunteer, has spearheaded operations, raised community funds for events, involved thousands of volunteers, and overseen two full-time staff and many contract employees in order to stage downtown festivals and events," according to Hummel. "After 36 years, she is ready to retire," he added.
"The fact that there are many entities in town able to carry on aspects of what our organization has done is testament to the vibrancy and vitality of our city," says Cone. "To see individuals and families enjoying the various Grassroots-produced events in Downtown Greensboro has brought me immense personal joy."
Grassroots plans to give the City of Greensboro and Downtown Greensboro, Inc., the holiday decorations it has acquired, including 205 illuminated snowflakes, as well as banners and flags it has used to celebrate various community events. The City of Greensboro and DGI will continue the holiday decorating and the banner program.
Festival of Lights holiday event, which annually brings some 35,000 people to downtown, will continue under the direction of Downtown Greensboro, Inc. Highlights of this First Friday event in December include the lighting of the Community Tree given to Center City Park by the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, the Community Sing-a-Long, live entertainment throughout downtown, and the chance to visit with Santa in Hamburger Square.
The Fun Fourth Festival, begun in 1975, now includes the Freedom Run & Walk, the Independence Day Parade, a day-long downtown street festival, and a pops concert with spectacular fireworks at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. In 2015, more than 90,000 people participated in these events. Grassroots is seeking community organizations interested in carrying on these events.
Center City Park programming, event management, and maintenance oversight, another aspect of Grassroots' work, will become the responsibility of the new organization that will oversee both Center City Park and the Carolyn & Maurice LeBauer Park beginning in mid-summer 2016.
Through the years, Grassroots has been governed by a Board of Directors of nine individuals. Advisory boards, composed of local business and civic leaders, have overseen the planning of each Grassroots initiative. The City of Greensboro has co-sponsored these events. More than 100 local businesses and organizations have helped with financial support. Annually, over 1,000 volunteers have helped stage the Fun Forth Festival and the Festival of Lights for the enjoyment of the community.
“Grassroots Productions, by emphasizing family fun for the entire area, has enticed tens of thousands of people to come to Downtown Greensboro to experience events and festivals with their family, friends, and neighbors. It has established a foundation and mark of excellence for all other Downtown Greensboro festivals, including the National Folk Festival,” according to City Council Member Nancy Hoffmann, who also serves on the Advisory Board for the Fun Fourth Festival. “Grassroots Productions has encouraged us to celebrate the diversity of our city in Downtown, the heart and soul of our city which belongs to everyone.”"
- A Press Release