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Longmont celebrates unity

The fall festival welcomed an estimated 6,000 residents
Unitiy in the Community 2023

An annual event by the Longmont Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by High Plains Bank, Unity in the community is a celebration of the vibrancy and richness of Longmont. The fall festival brought an estimated 6,000 residents out of their homes and into the streets downtown on Friday, where they were given an opportunity to engage with businesses, local non-profits, community leaders and their neighbors.

Michelle Hovdesven, AVP and stakeholder relations at High Plains Bank, explained that the event is “an opportunity to collaborate across the community.” The event was designed to be family-friendly and even welcomed four-legged attendees. Event organizers worked to ensure that the festival remained free of charge unless individuals wished to purchase food or drink from one of the vendors. Everything else from a climbing wall to face painting and doughnut decorating were provided at no charge.

Longmont restaurants were well represented, with multiple different food trucks and beer vendors. Cookies and hot cider were free, and a DJ kept everyone dancing in the streets until 10 p.m. 

Government officials and community leaders set up comfortable, swinging chairs on the corner of Fourth Avenueh and Kimbark Street in what they called the “Longmont Living Room.” The idea was to give people an opportunity to engage with local leadership in a casual setting.

“There really are not a lot of opportunities for people to directly connect with elected officials and nonprofit organizations,” Hovdesven said. “This event gives them the space to do that in a really organic way. They can see what these individuals and organizations are doing in Longmont.”

An important part of the festival is the Unity Funds the Community grant. Established in 2019, the grant allocates money from booth rentals, beverage sales and other sources, and supplies five area nonprofits with the opportunity to compete for funds. Each organization is guaranteed a minimum of $1,000, with the possibility of receiving up to $4,000.

“Festival goers have the chance to talk to those nonprofits at the event, learn what they do, and then vote for the one they feel should get the most funding,” Hovdesven explained. 

Voting involved dropping a ping-pong ball into a machine with a series of light-up tubes, and then pressing a button to assign it to the nonprofit of choice. By the end of the night, residents had cast thousands of votes.

Unity in the Community was a representation of all the different aspects that comprise the larger concept of “community.” It served as a conduit between people, businesses, leadership and nonprofits, and does it in a way that is fun and accessible to all. 

Longmont Area Chamber of Commerce Business Development Director Karen Stallard explains, “There are not many things you can just go out and do for free, but this is really an event with something for everyone.”