A large part of the Heritage of Hope, Inc. board, and most of the organizers of the annual Hope Heritage Days festival, have decided to pass the torch after many combined years of service to the Hope community.

Michael Dean, chief executive officer of Heritage of Hope, said he and much of the organization's Festival & Bandstand Division, have decided to step down.

The not-for-profit Heritage of Hope organization is an umbrella group that includes the organizers of the annual festival, as well as Main Street of Hope, the Art Guild of Hope and HSJ Online. The charitable organization was first formed in 1967.

The exodus has been in the works for some time, Dean said. Those leaving had intended for 2020 to be their final year heading up the organization, but the pandemic canceled this year’s festival. It would have been the 53rd year.

"Much disappointment was felt on all fronts, but none worse than to the group that has dedicated so much time and effort to such a great cause," Dean said.

Among those leaving with Dean are:

  • Randy Sims, president of the Festival & Bandstand Division
  • Chuck Caldwell, division vice president
  • Tina Dean, craft vendors organizer
  • Tonja Sims, food vendors organizer 
  • Michele Clark, Heritage of Hope treasurer
  • Mary Bragg, Heritage of Hope secretary

Sims is the senior member of the crew and was looking forward to his 30th year. Adora Paetzel, who has directed the parade for the past several years, does intend to carry on.

Dean said that no one has stepped forward to take over for those vacating positions.

"All have indicated a willingness to be a resource to those stepping into their roles for 2021 or help to chart a new course for the organization," Dean said.

"Although the festival only lasts for three days each year, activities go on continuously behind the scenes. Not all work is time consuming, however much is time critical. Permits, contracts, permissions, and other groundwork must be completed in advance, and knowledge of these timelines is a must. 

Dean said the departing members wished to thank the many people that have trusted them with the reigns of the organization, including the Town Council, Hope Police Department, Hope Volunteer Fire Department, sponsors, church/civic organizations, the schools, and many, many more. 

Dean said he still plans to stay involved with HSJ Online for the time being, where he serves on the website's oversight committee.

You can contact Heritage of Hope through the Hope Heritage Days Facebook page for information on volunteering or to express your thanks.