When accessing water is as easy as turning on the faucet, it can be difficult for Americans to understand just how vital a healthy, reliable and readily accessible water source is.
Members of the Rotary Club of St. Cloud have witnessed this and other struggles people outside the U.S. face. While the club invests heavily in the St. Cloud area, it also likes to leverage its clout and expertise in international projects.
About once per year, club members head to the Dominican Republic to help solve water problems at the hyper-local level, said Brian Hart, head of the club’s international projects committee.
Rotary clubs unite business and professional leaders for networking, fellowship and community service.
“Rotary opens doors and provides experiences otherwise unlikely,” said Michael Mullin, informal club historian and a former Rotary club president and district governor. In other words, it’s an “on-ramp on to the freeway of the world,” he said.
The partnership between St. Cloud and the Rotary brings more value than just a summertime festival. SBG creates quality-of-life benefits.
“There are three key things that attract people,” explained Scott Zlotnik, City of St. Cloud Parks Director. “We want to be able to provide a great opportunity for open space and the public to be able to enjoy themselves – quality of life. We want to be able to provide great jobs. And we want education. When you have these three elements, you’ll have a fantastic community that everybody wants to move to.”
Producing and managing a weekly music series for 12 weeks would be a challenge for any organization. That makes the success of Summertime by George! all the more impressive.
The summer events are created and managed with a volunteer workforce, Rotarians, most of whom are not experts in coordinating or staging events.
When two or more entities with similar goals come together, pool their resources, and work alongside each other, it’s impressive what they’re able to pull off. The City of St. Cloud and the Rotary Club of St. Cloud have been working together for years to make the community a better place for everyone to live.
There’s a legend about the origin of Summertime by George! Members of the Rotary Club of St. Cloud tell it with zeal.
There was a cocktail napkin, they say. Which has sadly been lost to history, they add.
Every year, the festival draws more and more people to the event. Some nights, the crowds reach nearly 20,000 people.
This year’s event set-up will be similar to past years and there plenty of space for people to spread out in the park.
The main mission of Summertime by George! is to bring the community together for fellowship, food, and fun.
“Rotary’s overall mission is to bring service to mankind, locally, nationally, and internationally,” said Rotarian Tim Wensman. “By providing this free event with entertainment where all diverse people can gather and enjoy the same event and intermingle, we felt it was enhancing the quality of life for the whole community.”
When the Rotary Club of St. Cloud started a free weekly summer music festival in 2011, everyone thought it would be a great event that promoted community. Still, no one expected it to be as successful as it has been. After postponing the concert series for a year due to the global pandemic, this summer marks the 10th anniversary of Summertime by George!