De Soto Chamber in midst of busy three weeks
Yard sale maps available Thursday
Her uncharacteristically cluttered office is an indication of how busy De Soto Chamber of Commerce director Sara Ritter has been.
Last Thursday, the De Soto chamber successsfully participated in the Kansas Speedway’s annual Chamber Day at the Races. The chamber’s annual fall communitywide yard sale is Saturday, and Oct. 11 and 12 will be the chambers Blues and Barbecue Festival that will be the inaugural event of the De Soto Riverfest Park.
In recent years, the De Soto chamber has taken advantage of the Kansas Speedway event’s fundraising possibilities — local chambers get a share of the tickets the sale and cash prizes are awarded to the chambers having the most success.
This year, the De Soto chamber sold 83 tickets to the event. Ritter said that earned it the prize for highest percentage of chamber members buying tickets and another prize for being second overall.
“It was worth $500,” she said. “We raised another $830 from ticket sales, so we made more than $1,300 overall. I don’t know how we’ll top that.”
But even as the Kansas Speedway event was being planned, the chamber was preparing for its annual fall community yard sale. More than 30 families had signed up to be placed on the chamber map of the event, and Ritter expected more before the Wednesday deadline.
“The phone has been busier today than it has been the last couple of weeks,” she said. “The maps will be available Thursday afternoon. We’ll also have them online.
The biggest thing on Ritter’s agenda is final preparations for the Blues and BBQ. The event is a fusion of the chamber’s blues festival and the barbecue contest Darrel Zimmerman introduced five years ago and the chamber took over last year.
It was moved from Zimmerman’s Kill Creek Farm, where 38 barbecue teams competed last year, to Riverfest Park with the hope it would grow. It is a goal it easily fulfilled.
“We have 49 teams,” Ritter said. “That’s capacity. There’s room for 64 down there, but we decided to hold it to 48 this year to see if we have any problems the first year. We probably turned away a dozen other teams.
“We’ll never be as big as Lenexa or the American Royale, but by our right it’s a pretty big deal.”
The two-day event has also attracted six food vendors, Ritter said.
The event will be the chamber’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Tickets are $5 for Friday, Oct. 10 and $10 Oct. 11. Opening night acts will be local talent with Larry Inman the first to perform the Riverfest Park stage. He will be followed by folk signer Ann Zimmerman and the De Soto band Bluezville.
Saturday’s entertainment lineup is the big band blues of Grand Marquis, Delta blues guitarist John Paul Drum and the headliner Lawrence blues recording artist Kelley Hunt.
City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle said the park will be ready.
“All we need is music,” he said. “The grass is coming up