De Soto Days Festival adds custom hot rod cruise
Most think of Labor Day weekend as a time to kick back while saying goodbye to summer. For the volunteers on the De Soto Days Festival Committee, the weekend represents the busiest days of 12 months of work.
"I think we're on schedule, so far," said De Soto Days Festival Committee Chairman Max Atwell said. "It seems to be coming together."
For the second straight year, the festival will be in the first weekend of September. The four-day festival will start Thursday, Sept. 2 and conclude Sunday, Sept. 5.
The four-day run will feature many events familiar from the past and a couple of new twists.
Last year, the festival was moved back a week to prevent scheduling conflicts with Evans Midland Empire Carnival. The rides and games will return to Miller Park this year to kick off the festival with wristband night. Food vendors would be in the park, Atwell said.
"It's one of the nicer carnivals around," he said. "All the equipment seems new and well-cared-for."
Friday will see one new event, Atwell said. The car show that has been a regular feature at the festival for years would be expanded this year to include a Friday evening custom rod cruise in the De Soto High School parking lot. The event, sponsored by Sonic Drive-In and De Soto Days, would also feature Oldies 95 deejay Charlie Knight.
For those who like their music live, Shady Lane will perform Friday evening in Miller Park.
Saturday is the festival's big day. It will start with the now-traditional downtown parade. This year's theme would be Discovering De Soto with Lewis and Clark, Atwell said. In something of a thing of a departure from past years, the festival committee has already announced the parade grand marshal will be Arlen Gabriel.
Saturday afternoon Miller Park activities will include the carnival, car show, food booths and craft show. A motorcycle show would augment the car show this year, Atwell said.
The festival had commitments from 20 crafters and was hoping for more, Atwell said. More fun would be offered through a variety of participation events, such as a nail-driving contest and a contest to find a pencil in a haystack, Atwell said.
Additional entertainment would be provided by the Kansas River Gang, an old-West skit troupe. The players would perform at noon, 2 and 4 p.m., Atwell said.
Saturday night will conclude with a street dance downtown.
"We're still working on the band for Saturday night," he said. "There will be a band. We just don't know who it will be."
Rain pretty much washed out last year's festival. The traditional Sunday community worship and Cub Scout pancake breakfast were salvaged by moving the breakfast to De Soto Senior Center and the service to Victory Place Church, both in City Hall. Although it had met with some resistance, the plan was to have them there this year.
"It's a whole lot handier to have the pancake breakfast there," Atwell said.