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Changes planned for Belpre Homecoming

Staff Report

BELPRE — Some changes are in the works behind the scenes for the Belpre Homecoming Festival.

The Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce has announced plans for the launch of a new community-based Belpre Homecoming Committee.

The goal is to continue the long tradition of the summer event plus add enhanced community involvement and activities to attract visitors to the grounds of Civitan Park in Belpre, according to Nancy Miller, president of the Chamber Board of Directors.

With restrictions on community gatherings resulting in canceling of the event in 2020, Chamber leadership is undertaking a strategic planning process focusing on the Homecoming event, with the intent to bring the festival to the community as soon as possible with new ideas and a community-based leadership team, Miller said.

Highlights of the annual event have traditionally included live musical entertainment, local and commercial food, amusements and games, a car show, a craft and display tent, a motorcycle show, and pageants, usually culminating in a fireworks display. Reunions, fishing derbies and family gatherings are scheduled around and during the weekend.

The BACC Board of Directors has made the decision to facilitate the forming of an independent Belpre Homecoming Committee to plan and execute the Homecoming event, allowing the committee to make application to become a newly-formed non-profit corporation taking ownership of the event and its finances, Miller said.

Volunteers will work under the guidance and direction of the independent Belpre Homecoming Committee.

The Chamber’s board, with the assistance of accounting and legal counsel, recently embarked on a comprehensive review of the Chamber organization’s non-profit charter, insurance policies, financial statements and budgets, and most importantly, the Chamber’s corporate mission and values, Miller said. At the end of the process, the board determined that its goal should reflect a renewed focus on its core mission, which is to support and advance business and economic growth in the community.

The Homecoming event has been governed and facilitated by the Chamber since 1932. Initially, Belpre Homecoming served as a commercial showcase for BACC member businesses and it was one of the main fundraisers for BACC, Miller said. Over the years the event evolved from a business marketing event into more of a summer festival for the community; additionally, all proceeds from the event are maintained in a separate Homecoming account and those funds no longer benefit BACC, she said.

BACC will be working with the existing Homecoming Committee to transfer the executive functions and ownership of the Belpre Homecoming event to a newly-created non-profit entity. The board is confident this move will benefit both the Chamber and the new entity by allowing each group to focus exclusively on their respective mission statements, Miller said.

BACC and the Homecoming entities are both financially solvent and the board envisions each group will become even stronger when able to focus on core competencies, she said.

“Homecoming Committee leaders have been excellent stewards of the event and they will continue to be an integral part of the formation of the new entity,” Miller said.

Individuals interested in volunteering in planning or assisting in event activities are encouraged to communicate with Belpre Homecoming Committee by email at comehometobelpre@gmail.com.

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