Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Watermelon Festival bringing slice of life to De Soto’s weekend

August 23, 2001

Max Atwell is keeping a watchful eye on the weather.

The chairman of the De Soto Watermelon Festival is hoping this year's event can avoid the scorching temperatures that visited the festival last August. Should the weather threaten to turn unacceptably hot, Atwell will rent a tent equipped with water jets that spray a cooling mist on visitors.

"Now they're saying it may cool off," he said. "I hate to spend the money if I don't need it."

Even if the mist tent isn't needed, Saturday visitors to Miller Park will notice one change made in response to last year's heat wave. The 40 craft and commercial booths will set up under a large tent.

"They're split about 50-50 between crafts and commercial booths," Atwell said.

The weather has already effected the festival. Atwell said cool temperatures this spring put an early end to De Soto's watermelon crop, from which the festival got its name. But, Atwell said a truckload of melons would be delivered Friday from a field south of Eudora.

There will be 10 food vendors serving attendees Thursday night, when the purchase of a bracelet is good for carnival rides all night, Atwell said. The number of food booths will increase to about 18 on Saturday, he said.

Atwell said he is looking forward to two children's games new to the festival.

"They should be fun to watch," he said. "We're having sumo wrestling Friday night. Kids will dress up in padded suits and try to toss each other out of the ring.

"Saturday we're having bungee racing horizontal bungee I call it. Kids hooked to bungees run as far as they can and throw down a beanbag. Those going the farthest win carnival tickets."

Pat Atchison, chairman of the parade committee, said it appears the parade will have about 70 entries, about the same as last year. But Atchison said there appears to be more floats this year.

De Soto and Mill Valley high school bands return as do the Shriners. New this year, is equipment from the Army Reserve's 129th Transportation Detachment. The unit will bring two Humvees, artillery pieces and a specialized piece of equipment called a HET.

"I don't know what it is, but it weighs 150 tons," Atchison said.

Parade entries are to be at their designated rendezvous areas at 8:30 Saturday morning, Atchison said. Horses are to gather at Lexington Trails Middle School, cars at the Baptist Church and all other entries at the high school. The parade starts at 10 a.m.

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