Thousands gather for DeSotos annual celebration
Like everyone else at the DeSoto Watermelon Festival, Bill Frenzel endured last weekends brutal heat.
But Frenzel withstood an added discomfort. As he ran his food stand, he was within three feet of a cooker that roasted hot dogs, sausages, brats and turkey legs with 250-degree heat.
Frenzel didnt let the unprecedented late-summer heat wave that accompanied this years Watermelon Festival ruin the event. His customers found him all smiles and eager to please.
It doesnt seem like it made much difference, Frenzel said Saturday of the heat. I had a great day.
In the nearby craft area, William Dillard of Kansas City, Kan., agreed.
We didnt do bad, he said as he packed unsold items late Saturday. The heat kind of killed it off a little bit in the afternoon.
Vendors Julie Broderson of Grain Valley, Mo., and Joe Bicknell of Waverly said they were pleased with their sales and would return next year.
Despite the heat Saturday afternoon, Watermelon Festival Chairwoman Marge Morse said the four-day event proved a success.
Im really pleased with how the crafters and food vendors hung in there, she said. We had 68 crafters this year. Someone can set their sights on that for next year.
The craft vendors paid $25 to participate in the festival. What money isnt needed to pay the festivals expenses will be used to fund scholarships and other community projects, Morse said.
A few entries, mostly horse riders, chose not to participate in this years parade because of the weather. But, with 78 participants, the parade was larger that last years, parade organizer Pat Atchison said.
The parade had more entries but took less time, she said. A new route and better organization at the parades starting points allowed it to move faster, Atchison said.
With crowds lining the streets of the events the final four blocks, the parade was probably the best-attended event of the festival. Parade viewers benefited from overcast skies that made for a relatively cool morning.
Festival organizers have no estimate of the number of people who attended this years event. They are confident attendance was up from last year.
The Evans Midland Empire Carnival reported its business increased from 1999, Morse said.
They were real pleased, Morse said. They have signed a contract to come back next year.
Morse, however, wont, - at least not in the capacity of festival chairwoman. Morse said she has to give up the post to devote time to her duties with the DeSoto Economic Development Committee and DeSoto Chamber of Commerce. Others of the festival committee have also announced their intention of resigning.
We need people in the community to step up and held keep the festival growing, she said.