VALPARAISO | It not only takes a village to raise a child, it also takes one to hold the city's annual Popcorn Festival.
"We have a staff of three, and we can't do it ourselves," Valparaiso's Special Events Director Tina St. Aubin said of the Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events office. "We look to other organizations to help us, and, to help benefit those organizations, we give honorariums to them for their service."
St. Aubin said more than 500 people participate in making the festival a success. Many of them are volunteers, and employees from all the city departments lend a hand.
Those who earn money for their group include the Morgan Township and Washington Township Schools, the Valparaiso High School Student Council, the Civil Air Patrol and the Porter County Sheriff's Department reserves.
"We have quite a few volunteers, but we are pretty fortunate to have all these people and fortunate to be able to give these organizations some money," St. Aubin said.
A total of $20,000 was distributed to those groups from the festival income received through sponsorships, booth rentals and parade entry fees. In addition, many of the booths are operated by local nonprofits that get to keep all the money they earn, while others affiliate with a restaurant or concessionaire and receive a portion of the proceeds.
St. Aubin said about $15,000 was paid out to nonprofits affiliated with a private operator. All the food vendors have to be nonprofits or be associated with one in order to have a booth at the festival.
"The St. Paul's men's group booth that has been grilling brats and hot dogs for 34 years, I think, at Lincolnway and Washington Street keeps all their cash. They set up about 4 a.m., and it is a long day with a lot of work. We had over 200 booths altogether and about 60 percent of them were from the local area."
The weather made it a good year for everyone, and no city funds were used to help finance the event, she said.
"That's what is so cool about it is that it does a lot of good for a lot of people."