Editor’s note: You can read more about CarmelFest 2015 here.
By Joseph Knoop
If there’s a legacy left by CarmelFest’s late co-founder Nancy Blondin, it’s one of “can-do” spirit and making the impossible happen. Blondin, born March 2, 1942 in Fort Wayne, died May 21.
Blondin began service as the Carmel Chamber of Commerce director in 1986 and served for 14 years, while also serving on a number of other boards, including the Carmel Symphony and Carmel St.Vincent Hospital.
That business leadership experience would come in handy when, in 1988, Blondin happened to be sharing a drink with then-future Mayor Dorothy Hancock. It was then that the two originated the idea of a community celebration to compete with ‘Indianapolis envy’, and CarmelFest was born.
“We had no idea what we were getting into,” Hancock said. “Some people would roll their eyes.”
CarmelFest would see orchestration all over the community, beginning with a small lot that would eventually become City Hall. Hancock remembers the level of dedication Blondin displayed during those first tenuous years.
“The very first year, Nancy was out there. She was running it,” Hancock said. “I’m sending the Police Department or Fire Department to help. She’s sweaty, I’m in the office. Later she told me ‘If I didn’t love you, I’d shoot you.’”
Jeff Worrell, fireworks director for CarmelFest for the last 22 years, remembers Blondin’s strong spirit fondly.
“One year we were at the football stadium and it was raining. We were trying to get these food trailers up this hill that had turned to mud,” Worrell said. “She calls someone up and within no time ends up with a dump truck full of gravel put on that hill. Now I think ‘Who else could make this happen?’ Without that we wouldn’t have been able to operate.”
In 2013, the long road to CarmelFest’s most recent success culminated for Blondin and Hancock with their inclusion as grand marshals in the parade.
“It brought us both to tears to see the car had our names on it,” Hancock said. “You get lost in the years. That we started this feels incredible.”