What is Schmedfest?

By Ryan Moody, Special Events and Marketing Manager at Crisis Control Ministry

On Saturday, August 27, Crisis Control Ministry will host an end-of-summer community concert and 5K/Fun Run to raise money for their mission. As the largest emergency assistance provider in Forsyth County, Crisis Control Ministry assists people in crisis to meet essential life needs and to become self-sufficient. Crisis Control makes sure our neighbors experiencing crisis have their basic human needs met by providing financial housing and utility assistance, food, and medicine.

When I joined Crisis Control Ministry as the Special Events and Marketing Manager in June 2021, our community was just beginning to return to a sense of normalcy after enduring the hardships of the previous year. Summertime is one of the busiest times of the year, especially for my job, and since restrictions were lifted on in-person events I had to be quickly brought up to speed on upcoming events. One of these events was Shmedfest, an end-of-summer bash benefitting Crisis Control. If you are hearing that name for the first time, you probably have the same question I did; “What is a ‘Shmedfest?’”

It is an odd name, but not one without a reason. Shmedfest was originally started by two Crisis Control volunteers, Steve and Tonya Cavanaugh, as a yearly party held in their backyard celebrating their shared birthday. They would invite all their friends (of which they had many) to celebrate and put out boxes to collect donations for Crisis Control Ministry. They called it Shmedfest, as a reference to their pet name for each other, “Shmeddy.” As Winston-Salem residents with connections all over the state, over the years their backyard birthday bash grew into a full-on event that had to be planned months in advance. More and more people showed up, which meant that Steve and Tonya could hardly handle the volume of the people showing up to their backyard party. Crisis Control stepped in to help plan the event. Steve’s band, the Downtown Band, which played every year was joined by other local bands to put on a proper concert. Children’s activities were expanded, including a bounce house. Dinner and beverages were catered by local businesses, and eventually Shmedfest outgrew the Cavanaugh’s backyard and had to be moved to larger venues.

“Shmedfest is another way that we like to give back to our community outside of the regular services we provide,” said Margaret Elliott, Executive Director of Crisis Control Ministry. “It’s a way that donors, volunteers, and other supporters of our work can gather together and enjoy a fun evening while reflecting on the work we have done the past year.”

Although the Cavanaugh’s moved away from Winston-Salem two years ago, they have entrusted their tradition to us. Now coming up on its 18th year, we are committed to making Shmedfest one of Crisis Control Ministry’s biggest events of the summer. We have found a new home for Shmedfest at the Winston-Salem Fairgrounds and are excited to bring beloved local bands Souljam and Reliably Bad to the stage. This year also marks the return of our Fun Run and official 5K race the morning before the concert.

When I learned about the history behind Shmedfest and saw the community support that rallies around it each year, it quickly became my favorite event. Shmedfest has grown to become a celebration of the work of Crisis Control Ministry and a cornerstone marking our continued devotion to our mission. It is a time to gather with friends and family to enjoy the last weekend of the summer, look back on the accomplishments of the previous year, and rejuvenate ourselves in preparation for the next. I hope you will come be a part of our tradition on August 27!

To learn more about Shmedfest and register for the 5K and Fun Run, visit crisiscontrol.org.

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