Deluge drowns De Soto Days
A summer's worth of deferred rain poured down on the De Soto Days Festival on Saturday, dampening the parade and all but washing out planned Miller Park activities.
Festival organizers were disappointed the weather and a year's worth of planning washed away with the much-needed rain, but they refused to be dejected.
"It's one of those deals we have no control over," said Festival Committee Chairman Max Atwell. "That's the first one I remember that was completely rained out. I just hope it doesn't happen two years in a row.
"We needed the rain. Everybody was happy about that."
Most would have been satisfied with a little less than the eight inches that filled most local rain gauges Saturday and Sunday. Still, the festival wasn't a complete wash out. After a shower last Thursday limited the Evans Midland Empire Games to about two hours, the carnival rescheduled its bargain-priced wristband night for Friday, Atwell said. The carnival cleared $15,000 this year, about half of what it made in 2002, Atwell said.
Food vendors also enjoyed good business on the evening that saw temperatures 20 degrees cooler than those of the preceding two weeks, Atwell said.
Atwell and parade festival chairwoman Diane Cochran said Saturday's parade was a success despite the rain. Although a few entries pulled out because of the weather, about 70 entries marched the route from Lexington Trails Middle School to Miller Park in the downpour.
"I'd say it lasted about 45 minutes," she said. "I don't know for sure, because I was too busy to look at my watch."
The crowd on downtown sidewalks looked comparable to those in past years, Atwell said. Many of those attending made their way to Miller Park to check out craft booths and food vendors.
Arlena Garza said she wasn't disappointed with the business generated from the Mexican food booth she and AliciaGibbens ran this year.
"We did OK," said Garza of the Mexican food booth she and Gibbens ran for the third straight year. "Not like we normally would on a Sunday, but we did have some."
Leather goods crafter Dave Beattie of Belton, Mo., said he did surprisingly well.
"I was thinking we wouldn't see anyone, but women like their purses," he said.
The festival's post-parade attendance bubble didn't last long, and by 1 p.m. crafters, food vendors and the carnival were packing up in a soggy Miller Park. A number of carnival trucks had to be pulled from the mud, Atwell said.
City Administrator Greg Johnson said he did not yet have an estimate from Park Director Jay Garvin about the cost of restoring the grounds.
A Saturday night street dance and Sunday morning pancake feed and community worship service was salvaged somewhat when they were moved to indoor locations. But Atwell said the crowd at the dance was small because few knew it was at Doc and Bruties.
Sunday morning's Boy Scout pancake breakfast fund-raiser and community worship service were moved to the Community Center. Cochran said a quick effort to post notices for the pancake feed were something of a success.
"We didn't lose money, at least," she said.
The Boy Scouts were planning a chili supper in October to make up for the lost opportunity at the festival, she said.
Festival organizers learned a number of things from the soggy weekend, including advertising alternate sites for the street dance and Sunday activities in case of rain, Atwell said. Past discussions have looked into moving the festival to spare damage to park grounds, but that didn't appear likely, he said.
"We've talked in previous years about having it someplace else, but there's really no good place to have it," he said. "The park's a nice place to have it, but we have the problem of tearing up the ball fields.
"I kind of see it as like the swimming pool -- a community expense. It provides quite a bit of sales tax they wouldn't have had otherwise."