Cable operators often reach out to their communities with one-off or short-term events. Not Massillon Cable. In fact Massillon gets the nod from us for community service largely because 2007 marked the 15th anniversary of its Downtown Fun Fest.

Staged in the operator’s home town of Massillon, Ohio, the festival has ballooned from a handful of booths to more than 75 attractions, which shut down blocks surrounding the city’s museum each August.

The best part is that the event is not just entertainment, it’s a showcase for the area’s nonprofits. Many festival attractions — face painting, a carousel — are manned by nonprofits, which get to spread their message while kids and adults are entertained, mostly for free. And everyone chips in. The sheriff does free fingerprinting for children; the Lions Club shows free movies in the town’s old theater. As the event has grown, corporations have joined the fun. Home Depot last year brought hundreds of woodworking kits to give away, and other companies sponsor petting zoos and inflatable rides.

Massillon, which serves about 45,000 subscribers, coordinates the swelling participant list, pays for tables and booths and runs 30-second spots to promote the event on its local bulletin board channel. "It really brings the community together, and it reinforces the fact that we care about families," says Massillon ad sales manager Elizabeth McAllister, who spearheads the event for the company. "This is not a wealthy community, and for a lot of our families this is the big event of the summer.

"I started by contacting every charity I could think of that wanted to reach kids and families," she says. The festival dovetails perfectly with the family-run operator’s deep sense of pride in the Massillon area. As noted on its website, "The community that we serve is also the community where we live."

Fun Fest Facts:

  • Fun Fest is co-sponsored by the Massillon Museum and the Downtown Massillon Assn.

  • Massillon Cable’s Elizabeth McAllister donates many hours of service to organize the event, which is a low-capital-intensive way for nonprofits and companies to showcase their wares.

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