Festival ready to move to Riverfest Park
With a pedestrian plan in place, the De Soto Days Festival is ready to move to a new home for its 45th year.
The pedestrian plan — a condition of the special use permit the De Soto City Council approved last month for the festival that runs Thursday through Saturday — was worked out in a meeting last week between city staffers and members of the De Soto Days Festival Committee.
The plan is to slow traffic on Ottawa and 79th streets heading to and from the festival and alert drivers of pedestrian traffic where there are no sidewalks and a steep ravine requires foot traffic to use the road. Barricades closing off half the traffic lanes will be placed on Ottawa Street just north of 82nd Street on its northbound lane and on the southbound lane north of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad crossing to create pedestrian lanes.
In addition, signs will be placed in the middle on the street warning of festival pedestrian traffic and posting a 15 mph speed limit.
The plan states close pedestrian and vehicle traffic are common at festivals, either in parking lots or on residential streets forced to handle the additional traffic associated with event.
Raheema Sampson, chairman of the De Soto Days Festival Committee, said she was excited to see how the festival worked in the new park. The De Soto Days Festival Committee made the move from Miller Park to take advantage the new park’s greater space and amenities with the goal of growing the three-day event. The move paid off this year with the addition of food and commercial vendors who were impressed with what Riverfest Park offered, she said.
Committee members said the park’s layout would make the festival more enjoyable.
“We had to retrofit Miller Park to make it work for De Soto Days,” said Ron Crow Jr., De Soto Days Festival Committee entertainment chairman. “Riverfest Park was designed for festivals.”
Crow said the amenities should be especially beneficial for enjoying the entertainment he has lined for all three nights, including the Beatles tribute band Liverpool, which will perform from 9 p.m. to midnight Saturday. Bands will perform on the Riverfest Park stage rather than on a ball field isolated from other activities, he said.
The festival will be much the same as past De Soto Days despite the move. The first two nights will include food booths, entertainment and the Evans Midland Empire Shows Inc. carnival.
Saturday will be the big day with the children’s parade in downtown De Soto starting at 9:45 a.m. With children gathering at the staging area at 9:30 a.m. Children participating the event will receive a certificate good for a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.
The main parade is scheduled to reach downtown at 10 a.m. with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. in the De Soto High School parking lot.
The theme of this year’s festival is “Imagine All the People,” lyrics from the John Lennon song “Imagine.”
Kristin Bothof, chairman of the parade, said the theme tied in with De Soto Days’ headline entertainment act, the Beatles tribute band Liverpool, and would have many adaptations for the parade floats the committee would like to see more of this year.
De Soto City Administrator Pat Guilfoyle, who was named grand marshall of the De Soto Days Parade, said.
Two groups are taking advantage of the festival for special events. The De Soto Art Council replaced its annual fall art show with an art walk at which artists will show and offer work at booths from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Riverfest Park.
Also, a 5K and 10K run/walk to benefit De Soto Youth Ministries will start activities Saturday. Registrations for the run can be found online at desotoyouthministries.org or late registration is available from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Races start at 8 a.m. with the course closing two hours later.
The race costs $18 for those 13 years and older and $5 for participants 12 years old or younger.
There will be all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast in conjunction with the race from 7:30 to 11 a.m. at De Soto Youth Ministries, 33180 W. 83rd Street.