When you pull up to A.C. Flora High School for the Forest Acres Festival on Saturday, May 17, you might not immediately notice anything that sets this festival apart from other Columbia-area festivals. Rides? Check. Petting zoo? Check. Games and prizes? Yup. Live music? Hard to miss. Ticket booth? Not there. That’s because beyond any food or tchotchkes you might want to purchase, the festival, and all the fun that goes with it, is free.
And we’re not just talking admission. All those rides, as well as the music and entertainment are free as well. How can they do it? Local corporations and the city of Forest Acres are both big supporters of the event, but the biggest chunk of management is taken on by the Rotary Club of Forest Acres.
If the only thing you know about Rotary is that members meet once a week and wear a gear-shaped lapel pin, you’re not alone. Although the service organization has been in existence since 1905, its 1.2 million members don’t spend a lot of time on self promotion. They should.
The Rotary Foundation’s Ambassadorial Scholarships is the world’s largest privately funded scholarship program. Since 1978 under the Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Program, 340 projects in 78 countries have been funded from Rotary International totaling $87 million. They’ve taken on polio, too: Providing vitamin A supplements during polio National Immunization Days has averted an estimated 1.5 million childhood deaths since 1998. Famous Rotarians include Bill Gates, John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney and Neil Armstrong.
The Forest Acres Festival will be held Saturday, May 17 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at A. C. Flora High School, 1 Falcon Drive, Forest Acres. For more information, visit forestacres.net
Katie McElveen, Special to The State