Alabaster Arts Council makes CityFest a reality

When 50,000 people descended upon Alabaster’s Municipal Park last year for CityFest, it was a result of a year’s worth of work by a group of dedicated volunteers.

CityFest, the county’s largest outdoor festival, takes place the first weekend in June each year, and it is organized by the Alabaster Arts Council.

The festival originated in 2003 to coincide with the city’s 50th anniversary, and it was organized by the city.

The arts council took over the festival shortly after, and it has blossomed into a major event each year.

“We were pretty much doing it anyway, and we said we wanted to do more than the city can,” said Adam Moseley, arts council president. “There is only so much the city can do.”

The city provides funds each year for the event, but those numbers have been dwindling in recent years as the economy took a downward turn.

To offset the costs of the huge event, the arts council solicits sponsorships and donations for the festival.

“If it wasn’t for our sponsors, it wouldn’t happen each year,” Moseley said. “Regions Bank stepped up this year as our title sponsor, and without them we wouldn’t be having the great acts we’ve got.”

Vic Smith, who owns Vic Smith CPA, wears a dual hat as both a sponsor and volunteer of CityFest, and he said serving in both capacities is a win-win situation.

“I feel good about the exposure I get as a business owner and it makes me proud to be involved in such a well-put together event,” Smith said. “This area, this part of Shelby County and the city of Alabaster is a great place and it’s great to give back both as a volunteer and as a business owner.”

Emily Sykes, the arts council vice president, joined the council and the CityFest volunteer effort just so she could give back to the city she loves.

“I think CityFest is great for the city, and it gives the city a chance to give back,” Sykes said. “I enjoy the giving back part, and being able to raise awareness for the arts and bringing the culture to the city.”

Henry Raymond, who coordinates the volunteers, has been volunteering with the council since the beginning of CityFest in 2003, and he said it is amazing to see how the festival has grown over the years.

“We didn’t have a clue what we were doing the first time,” Raymond said with a laugh. “But it is amazing to see that the number of volunteers we need for CityFest has doubled.”

And the growth that CityFest has experienced in the last seven years, Raymond said, can be attributed to the increasing number of volunteers.

“Everybody on the arts council is a volunteer and that is a huge part of this,” Raymond said. “One of the goals is to keep this a free event, and to grow you can’t spend money on hired help.”

Despite all the hard work, Raymond said volunteering with CityFest is special way of giving back to the city his kids grew up in.

“The reason I do it, well, I wonder why the first Sunday of every June,” Raymond jokingly said referring to day after each year’s CityFest. “It’s just something I enjoy doing.”

And it’s that attitude, Moseley said, that has helped make CityFest into an annual success with an even brighter future.

“We have a lot of dedicated volunteers, and without them we couldn’t do it,” Moseley said.