CumberlandFest hiring new ride vendor, adding huge fireworks

CumberlandFest hiring new ride vendor, adding huge fireworks

CUMBERLAND – Organizers of a revamped CumberlandFest have hired a new midway vendor, Rhode Island-based Rockwell Amusements, to bring new and improved rides to this year’s VJ Day weekend event.

Another significant addition added by a reshaped executive committee is a Saturday evening fireworks display featuring a grand finale during which some 500 rockets will be launched, making it one of the area’s largest displays of the summer.

Executive Committee member Jerry Schimmel, who has been involved with the event for decades, has assumed responsibility for entertainment. He said the main stage at Diamond Hill Park will be supplemented this year by a second stage to ensure adequate space for booked acts, offering viewing alternatives to accommodate varied tastes in music.

Board member Ernie Labbe said organizers also remain intent on adding a beer tent to this year’s CumberlandFest, but must first “traverse the gauntlet of getting approval from the town.” That beer tent is expected to be paired with a yard game area as one of many new options at the festival this year.

Labbe is executive director of the Cumberland Youth Activities Council, which runs CumberlandFest. The group, at a meeting Monday, formally announced a new organizational structure for its executive committee and board of directors. In addition to Labbe, executive committee members include committee chairs Jerry Schimmel, Joseph Vela and David Stavros, Treasurer Rebekah Puleo, Secretary Kristina Mayer and Cumberland Director of Parks and Recreation Michael Crawley.

Board members include Alan Neville, Ross Silva, Treasurer Rebekah Puleo, Secretary Kristina Mayer, Michael Crawley, and Labbe as a non-voting member.

“We are very pleased to bring together this group of talented and dedicated people to serve on the CYAC board of directors and CumberlandFest executive committee,” said Labbe in a statement. “Some have a long-term history with CumberlandFest, while others are new to us. What we all have in common is long-term Cumberland residency, impressive career credentials and a history of volunteerism and community involvement.”

Neville ended his 30-year banking career as senior vice president of marketing at Bank of America, after which he held marketing and development positions at a number of the state’s largest nonprofit organizations. He has volunteered for a number of community organizations, most recently for six years as the president of AARP Rhode Island.

Silva is currently assistant vice president of business development and loan origination at Navigant Credit Union and is the immediate past chairman of the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Rhode Island, an affiliate board member of the Northern Rhode Island Board of Realtors, a committee member of Working on Walking and a member of the Cumberland Beagle Club. Mr. Silva also serves as a soccer coach to local youth teams.

“We are thrilled that Alan and Ross have agreed to provide their leadership and experience to our organization,” said Labbe. “Their enthusiasm and dedication will help lead the CYAC and CumberlandFest to new and greater heights as we expand our efforts to create a more robust event that engages more patrons and supports a wider array of youth activities in Cumberland.”

CumberlandFest has been a favorite town summer event for the past 28 years. Originally conceived as a fundraising vehicle to support the town’s youth athletic programs, it has distributed more than $1 million to participating organizations.

Facing declining attendance and a stagnation of offerings, made more glaring during an almost total rainout during last year’s event, organizers considered ending CumberlandFest before getting a recommitment from key stakeholders and deciding to give the whole festival a fresh look. The basic format of CumberlandFest was deemed to be a good one, but in need of a new approach, including enhancing the midway, improving and expanding entertainment offerings, and finding ways to generate additional revenue.

Also made official this week, as organizers seek to attract young families, is the elimination of a $5 entrance fee for children younger than 12 years old when accompanied by a parent.

Each member of the restructured executive committee will take on responsibility for various aspects of operation. There are many moving parts, said Labbe, and all must work together well to make this a success.

“While the executive committee will handle day-to-day operations and oversee the execution of CumberlandFest, our new board of directors will be responsible for strategic direction and governance to ensure compliance with nonprofit reporting and oversight,” said Neville.

Earlier this year, the CYAC announced that it would expand its philanthropy to include a wider array of non-sports related youth organizations in Cumberland. Groups will be expected to make pitches for funds based on needs and how they’ll volunteer with the event.

CumberlandFest 2019 is scheduled for August 9-11 at Diamond Hill Park.