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Friday, May 6, 2016

Celebration starts Saturday

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Mansion of Mayhem is one of several rides Burton Bros. Amusements have set up for the 75th Brazil Rotary Club's 4th of July Celebration. [Order this photo]
The past year has been a little hectic for Susan Thomas and her fellow members of the Brazil Rotary Club

The current club president's term will officially conclude after the 75th 4th of July Celebration.

But for nearly the past year, Thomas has dedicated her time and efforts to the upcoming festival, scheduled to officially begin Saturday.

Susan Thomas
"Because of this being the one true active fundraising project that we do, a lot of thought and planning has to go into it," Thomas said.

Thomas joined the club in 2000. Since then, she has been active in the planning of the annual festival.

But this past year, she had the bigger role of president. According to Rotary International rules and regulations, club presidents serve one term of one year only.

Thomas has only been active with Rotary for a decade, she said she has always been connected to the annual festival. At one time, she conducted live broadcasts through Crossroads Studios, based in Terre Haute, from Forest Park as the festival took place.

Even though her name is synonymous with this year's festival, Thomas was quick to point out all Rotary members are actively involved.

"There are members always giving comments or suggestions," she said, adding a committee of approximately 10-15 have met monthly to discuss the upcoming festival since August 2009.

"It's kind of a working committee," Thomas said. "People cycle in and cycle out."

With 75 festivals, Thomas said putting together the annual event isn't as difficult as one might think.

"We've got 75 years to be able to tweak or shape it," she said. "There's a lot to look back on and I've also seen some really great stuff done by the presidents before me, so that helps."

"I think we're all kind of going, 'Wow, it's kind of exciting that we've been able to be this active.'"

Through suggestions from club member Sam Glover, the festival's opening night (Saturday) will feature a bit of a twist, Thomas said, as the evening will feature five Gospel/Christian acts on the main stage.

"It sounds to me like it's going to be a lot of work for the bands," Thomas said. "But it's very exciting to know they want to be part of our event.

"We've had gospel music before, but not as a full lineup like that, where the stage would have so many changes in the course of one evening."

Thomas added there would be a variety of musical entertainment throughout the week.

"The lineup is varied in terms of the music," she said. "There will be a little bit of something for everybody's listening taste."

In 1988, the year Thomas graduated from Northview High School, the local organization began accepting female members.

This year, with Thomas serving as president, Miranda Goodale also serves as the president-elect.

Thomas said that although the Rotary International calendar year turns over June 30, The Brazil Rotary Club does not officially hand over the "gavel" until the conclusion of its annual festival, set to end with the drawing of the annual $10,000 grand prize July 4, at 11 p.m.

This year, the hand-over may not officially take place until after president-elect Goodale returns from a trip to Memphis with the Brazil Concert Band.

Burton Bros. Amusement, the company responsible for the carnival that is being set up in Forest Park for the event, started rolling in to set up this past week, Thomas said.

With the festival officially kicking off in a few days, Thomas said she has a mixed reaction.

"It's exciting and a little bit overwhelming sometimes," she said. "But it has been a lot that I have looked forward too this past year."

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