In early 2015, the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce announced that would no longer be putting on the Bennington Car Show, effectively ending the show's 48-year run. The Chamber cited various reasons for this, among them diminishing returns on the investment and an aging volunteer pool stretched thin by the immensely popular Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival.
Locals were understandably upset. It's hard to say goodbye to something that's been around for nearly 50 years. The lamentations went on for the rest of that year and flared up again from time to time on social media, but then along came Bert Brown and the Bennington Cruisers.
According the group's Facebook page, it formed as a direct response to the cancellation of the Bennington Car Show. Over the past several months it's been holding "Cruise-ins" at various locations around town, events where people come to see fancy cars and hang out.
This past weekend, Brown spearheaded the first Green Mountain Car Show, held at the former Green Mountain Race Track in Pownal. The event, by all accounts, was a success. Local Facebook groups reported over 100 cars were shown, scores of vendors attended, and over the course of three days a few thousand people came by. Not bad considering it all came together within a few weeks.
We certainly hope Brown is able to turn this into an annual event, one that grow and draw people to the area.
This isn't the only example of a local stepping up where someone else stepped back.
Right around the same it was announced there would be no car show, the annual Bennington Easter Egg Hunt was called off. Normally, the hunt is planned by the staff at the Bennington Recreational Center and held at Willow Park. An off-kilter winter delayed the normal prep work that the town puts into maintaining the park and the forecast for that weekend wasn't so great, so the decision was made to cancel the hunt.
It went over about as well as cancelling a car show.
Enter Joey Kulkin, manager of Fiddlehead at Four Corners, who along with about a dozen others and hundreds of plastic eggs from the folks at the Rec Park, went ahead and organized an egg hunt on their own.
More recently, Polly van der Linde, of Sonatina International Piano Camps in Old Bennington, took the initiative and came to the last Select Board meeting with a rather musical idea: What if the crosswalks at the famed Four Corners were designed to look like piano keys?
Van der Linde didn't approach the board with the expectation that it would do all the work, either. She had done her homework, researching where this had been done before and how. There were some questions raised about the legalities involved, but town officials said they would look into them.
And, to top it all off, van der Linde has offered to foot the bill.
How many times have we seen people come before the boards, or to the public through social media, with a great idea they hope someone else will do the work on and pay for? Too many to count.
We applaud those who take the initiative to get things done. Big or small, these events and projects are what make a community something to be a part of. We hope it happens more often.