Festival forecast to dazzle
This time of year Max Atwell keeps a weary eye on the weather forecast.
Early this week, the chairman of the De Soto Days Festival Committee was crossing his fingers for the meteorologists to have it right. The forecast for Thursday, Friday and Saturday was for clear to partly cloudy skies, daytime highs in the low to mid 80s, and no rain until possibly Saturday.
"It sounds pretty good," Atwell said. "There's nothing we can do about it one way or the other."
Heavy rains over the weekend and soaked grounds at Miller Memorial Park have raised one concern. Atwell said he hoped the grounds would dry out enough Monday and early Tuesday to allow Evans Midland Empire Games to set up carnival rides and games without tearing up the turf.
And while he can't do anything about the weather, Atwell did take steps to control mosquitoes from breeding in the park. Atwell spread a retardant on the turf Tuesday.
Other than that, De Soto Days promises to deliver three days of music, fun and food, Atwell said.
The carnival should be more popular than ever this year with the addition of two bargain nights. As has been the custom in recent years, the carnival will offer unlimited rides Thursday evening with the purchase of a $15 wristband.
That concept is being extended to Friday and Saturday evenings this year with $20 wristbands. Saturday afternoon rides require single tickets.
Committee member Kathy Ross said there are 16 food vendors signed up for the festival. Thirteen of the vendors will be there all three days of the festival, and three will have stands on Saturday.
Music will be a big part of this year's festival and will be as diverse as the food. First up from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday will be Trio Axtlan, providing Mexican and Latin tunes. The group is the long-time house band of Mannie's on Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, Mo. -- a street famous for Mexican cuisine and culture.
Friday will feature the first performance of the band from Kaw Prairie Church. It will play a mix of rock 'n roll and gospel from 6 to 7 p.m. in Miller Park. Tim and Mike will follow with a reprise of '50s and '60s rock classics.
De Soto High School Marching Wildcats and the Lexington Trails Middle School band will make early season appearances Saturday at the De Soto Days parade. The Kaw Prairie Community Church Band will also return for the parade and follow up with an hour-long performance in Miller Park.
Lonnie Ray with the Blue Chips will wrap up the musical entertainment with blues and rock from 7 to 10 p.m. in the park.
As for the parade, Ross said she fielded three or four calls Monday from those wanting to enter.
"It's getting bigger; it's getting better," she said. "The last week is always the push from people wanting to get in the parade, the car show or something."
In addition to the bands, the parade will have at least four floats, fire trucks and several politicians in this election year.
Saturday's parade is to reach downtown at 10 a.m., Ross said. Those participating are asked to enter the De Soto High School parking lot from 91st Street starting at 8:30 a.m. The pre-parade lineup will be on the street on the west district campus connecting the high school to Lexington Trails Middle School.
The parade will leave the middle school at 9:30 a.m., marching down Penner Avenue and 83rd Street to Miller Park.
Those who want to participate in the kids' parade, which was re-introduced last year, should gather at Abbott Hall at the corner of Peoria and 83rd streets at 9:30 a.m. for a start 15 minutes later, Ross said. The De Soto Pizza Hut is sponsoring the event open to those in the fifth grade or younger. Participants will receive a coupon for a single topping personal pan pizza if they make the downtown loop on 83rd Street from Peoria Street to Shawnee Street and back, Ross said.
Twenty-six craft and corporate booths have signed on for the festival. Organizer Star Atwell said the craft booths would be out all day Saturday, setting up as early as 6 a.m. Most close by 6 p.m., but a few will close earlier depending on the weather and attendance at the festival.