MITCHELL — The annual implementation of the Persimmon Festival tends to leave even the most seasoned volunteers awestruck. Just ask Christina Lambton.
Lambton, general chairwoman of the 68th annual Persimmon Festival, is no stranger to service.
She admits she has a hard time saying no when it comes to helping others, and with a volunteer repertoire a mile long, that much is obvious.
As if making sure the week-long Persimmon Festival, which continues through Saturday, goes off without a hitch wasn’t enough, Lambton is also in her second year of serving as president of the United Way of South Central Indiana, a job in itself.
“I believe in the service our partner agencies provide because they’re some of the most important things in our community, and I believe in the United Way programs, such as Kindergarten Countdown, my very favorite program we provide,” said Lambton, who is in the midst of her second term on the UW board. “I’d guess you could say it’s pretty obvious I don’t know how to say no.”
So when former festival chairman Steve Dobson asked Lambton to join him in the three-year planning process that brings the Persimmon Festival to fruition each year, she jumped at the chance.
“I didn’t have to think about it much, but I didn’t understand the complexity of what this job entails,” Lambton said. “I knew it was hard work, but I didn’t understand at the time what that meant.”
It means taking a week off work from her job as assistant to the mayor of Mitchell. It means timing waitressing shifts at the Phi Beta Psi food tent around festival power outages. It means carrying a radio on one hip and balancing her daughter’s requests on the other. It means fielding complaints, compliments and fixing problems.
“The past three years of doing this have been wonderful,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun to see the planning come to fruition festival week when you hit the ground running and don’t stop for seven days.”
Lambton has made a few changes to this year’s festival. Some have been welcomed; others not so much.
“To make it successful, I’ve made some changes this year, such as opening the commercial tent an extra day and moving the queen contest judging from Sunday to Saturday,” she said. “I think whenever you make changes, you’re going to have both complaints and compliments.”
Before joining the festival committee three years ago, Lambton wasn’t familiar with the workings of one of southern Indiana’s premiere events and what it takes each year to make it a success. Now, she’s awestruck.
“Seeing the whole community come together, especially the nonprofits coming out to show what they do for the community, such as the Varsity Club and Phi Beta Psi sorority, is amazing,” Lambton said. “Besides the food, it’s my favorite part of the festival.”
But planning such a massive event also has its challenges.
“I’m a people-pleaser by nature,” she said. “I want everyone to be happy. When you’re doing something like this, making sure everyone is happy and having a good time is difficult.”
This year, Lambton is assisted by her co-chairs Teresa Reynolds, who will take the helm after this week, and Henry Shetler. The parade chairman is Gary Rayhill.
“My co-chairs have been awesome,” Lambton said. “It’s been great to work with Henry, Teresa and Gary. I always count Gary as a part of the festival committee because of the hard work and dedication he puts into this festival each year.
“I’ve already put in my order with Mother Nature, and I think she’s going to deliver. It’s going to be a great week.”
Contact Times-Mail Staff Writer Krystal Shetler at 277-7264 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.