Watermelon Festival activities under way
The De Soto Watermelon Days is more than a month away, but the annual event's activities begin Thursday with the start of the first Watermelon Festival medallion hunt.
Festival Committee chairman Max Atwell told the monthly meeting of the De Soto Chamber of Commerce last week that the medallion hunt was a fund-raising idea borrowed from other communities. In this case, residents can purchase a $5 hunting license to search for a wooden Watermelon Festival medallion hidden somewhere within the city, on public land.
The first clue to the medallion's location is printed elsewhere in this week's issue of the Explorer. An additional clue will appear weekly until the medallion is discovered or until the contest ends Aug. 16.
Atwell said the catch is residents had to buy licenses by Wednesday, July 18, to be eligible for the $500 prize. A successful hunter without a license will only win $50, he said.
Tickets are still available for another festival fund-raiser. Raffle tickets may be purchased at the De Soto Chamber of Commerce, 33150 W. 83rd Street. Prizes include a shotgun from De Soto Outpost, roundtrip Amtrak tickets from Kansas City to Los Angles or Chicago, a star-pattern quilt, dinner theater tickets or a $100 gift certificate from Toys-R-Us.
Donations are $1 per ticket of six for $5. The drawing will be Aug. 25 at Miller Park.
Planning for the festival is entering the homestretch, Atwell said.
The festival will begin Aug. 23 with the annual family carnival night. Six food vendors have indicated they will offer food that evening, Atwell said.
The festival will continue on Friday with the first of the weekend's entertainment.
This year's Saturday festival parade will have a less circuitous route at the request of the Johnson County Sheriff's Department, parade chairman Pat Atchison said. The parade will travel downtown from the west Y via Penner Ave. and 83rd Street, she said.
Eighteen crafters and 12 food vendors have already signed up for Saturday, Atwell said. Craft booths will be placed under a tent this year in an attempt to make things more comfortable for vendors and customers, he said.
The committee is exploring the possibility of obtaining a water-misting tent should festival weekend temperatures approach last year's triple-digit figures, Atwell said.
As it does traditionally, the festival will conclude with a community breakfast and interfaith service the morning of Sunday, Aug. 26, Atwell said.