Festival thrives with mild weather
Spared the frequent rains of recent months and the extreme hot temperatures of past years, attendance at the De Soto Days Festival was good if not spectacular, organizers said.
"It went pretty well, overall, I think," said De Soto Days Festival Committee Chairman Max Atwell. "We thought it was a little slow Friday evening, but we made up for it Thursday night and Saturday."
The football game may have hurt attendance Friday night, Atwell said.
Those attending the festival seemed pleased, as did food vendors and the carnival owner, Atwell said. The Evans Midland Empire Shows agreed to return next year, he said.
"We've sold all our pies and a lot of cookies and brownies," said Brenda Crisco late Saturday afternoon from the De Soto Untied Methodist Women's stand. "We brought more than 20 pies."
About two hours earlier, Mayor Dave Anderson -- freshly soaked from his time on the festival committee's dunk tank -- said he was impressed with the day's turnout. And he said the festival showed off improvements the city had made in the last year to 83rd Street and the Miller Park swimming pool parking lot, which was opened for use with the carnival's start Thursday.
Participants in Saturday morning's festival parade traveled down 83rd Street well-lined with observers. Parade organizer Kathy Ross said it took the parade's 54 entrants just more than 30 minutes to march past a single point.
The least enthusiastic of the festival's participants were the craft vendors, Atwell said.
"They were about half and half," he said. "Some people did well; some didn't."
Lori Balandron of Topeka said she was pleased with the business her craft booth did Saturday after the parade.
"It was my first time here," she said. "I did well enough to come back."
Friday evening's car cruise drew lots of participants, which almost made for an overflow situation Saturday at Miller Park, Atwell said. There had been early discussions about moving the car cruise to the week before the festival, he said.
"I'm sure we'll have some new ideas for next year," he said.
Next year's festival will have a new chairman, Atwell said. He was stepping down from the position after four years and handing the reins to Ross, he said.
"She'll be taking over," he said. "I'll step back and help out in some area."
Ross said her chairmanship had not yet been approved by the De Soto Days Festival Committee.
"I've agreed to do it if they'll have me," she said.