By BRENNA GRITEMAN
McCOMB — The McComb Cookie Festival nearly crumbled this year, as declining attendance and a past financial disagreement with the village led longtime organizers to walk away from the tasty summer tradition.
But Kim Louviaux has come along and picked up the crumbs.
“I just thought it would be so unfortunate to lose this event,” said Louviaux, a 1980 McComb High School graduate who, after living elsewhere for some years, has found her way back to the village and planted roots. Her children also graduated as Panthers, and her grandchildren are now active with the school and local sports.
Her reasoning for taking on the task of organizing and reimagining the festival ahead of its 15th anniversary was simple: “I would love to see it, the community zest for the parade and the festival. I felt like, we will give this thing 110% to make it succeed.”
In doing that, Louviaux has amassed the support of her daughter and a few other volunteers, along with some fellow class of 1980 graduates, to get everything into place ahead of the festivities traditionally held the first week of August.
This year, that includes an added emphasis on cookies. With Hearthside Food Solutions an established sponsor for the event, there has been no shortage of cookies available at the festival grounds and along the parade route.
“Everyone on Main Street gets literally a year’s supply of cookies thrown at them,” Louviaux said.
But this year, she’s adding a cookie baking contest and even a visit from Cookie Monster himself.
She’s also introducing a Saturday night beer and wine garden, complete with a live band.
Everett Latta organized the festival along with Joe Wasson 16 years ago as a way of promoting the village and starting a fund to build a community center at the swimming pool.
Latta explained they formed the McComb Community Partnership and, within eight years, had raised over $50,000 and cemented several donations for time and materials toward the building. Latta said the idea was abruptly rejected by council, so the festival committee agreed to donate its funds to local initiatives including the Halloween parade, the high school weight room, lights at the softball field, an electronic sign outside the school and more.
“Our goal was a community center. For eight years, that’s what I lived for. I mean, jiminy cricket,” said Latta.
“It kind of took the enthusiasm out for us,” added Nedra Aller, a committee member since 2008.
The festival has continued on through the years, but organizers acknowledged that enthusiasm was lacking from the community and that fresh ideas were needed.
Louviaux said festivities will kick off with a parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, and she is actively searching for new participants — be it bands, civic groups or other organizations. At the tail end of the parade, cheerleaders and members of the marching band will pull the spectators into the street and the entire village will caravan to the park for a blessing of the events and a meet-the-team event for fall sports teams.
At the park, visitors will find food and other vendors; booths from local health providers and social services organizations; and activities such as a corn hole tournament, three-on-three basketball and softball games.
On Sunday morning, local police will lead their annual Cops and Bobbers fishing event at the reservoir. Food vendors will be available throughout the day, live music will be performed and the sports tournaments will wrap up.
The event will be capped off with fireworks — the only chance to see them in McComb this summer.
“The village opted not to do fireworks for the Fourth this year, so this will be the only fireworks display in McComb this year,” Louviaux said.
Other possibilities for the weekend include a 5K and a car show.
Volunteers and event organizers are needed. To get involved, call Louviaux at 480-251-6166, message through the McComb Cookie Festival Facebook page or email email@example.com.