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Festival organizers surprised

News editor

Chingawassa Days Committee Chairman Mike Powers told Marion Kiwanis members that several events at the 2012 festival were surprisingly popular.

On June 2 he was at the festival in Central Park and there weren’t many people in the north half of the park where many of the events are. He was disappointed by the attendance until he turned around and saw the south end of the park filled with people participating in three-on-three basketball, arm wrestling, tug of war, and other events.

He said participation events — like a rock-paper-scissors tournament, arm wrestling, frozen T-shirt race, and tug of war — generate a lot of interest with festivalgoers. Organizers were surprised to learn that a national arm-wrestling competitor was at the festival; he said he hopes to bring other competitors in the future, Powers said.

This year the committee scheduled some events earlier in the day and ended afternoon events earlier to give people more of a break before the headline concert.

The community worship service and inaugural tractor ride on June 3 both had good attendance.

Concert

Before signing Starship as 2012’s headline concert, the committee had two deals with other bands fall through. Powers said the committee had worked out terms with Kansas, but the band declined the offer after getting a deal for a European tour.

Then the committee had a contract ready for Loverboy, but the band waited too long to see whether Chingawassa Days would conflict with its touring schedule, so the committee withdrew the offer, Powers said.

The Starship concert worked well, but the band was exhausted by the end of the night. The band traveled from San Francisco, Calif., to Orlando, Fla., to perform May 31, then to Los Angeles, Calif., on June 1, and finally to Marion on June 2.

Powers said the committee is always looking for ideas for events and performers. One Kiwanis member in attendance made a suggestion for the Friday night concert: Think Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute band based in Chicago, who recently performed in Junction City.

Underwhelming

Powers didn’t have time in his presentation to address the biggest “miss” of Chingawassa Days 2012, but he spoke about it afterward.

For several years the committee has pursued having a sports figure at the festival, thinking people would enjoy having a chance to talk to him or her and ask questions.

Previous tries to find a sports figure for the festival fell through. Former NFL quarterback Len Dawson had agreed to come in 1996, but then Purdue University scheduled his induction into the university’s hall of tame the same weekend. Powers tried to schedule coaches from the University of Kansas, Kansas State University, and Wichita State University, but the timing was always bad with summer sports camps. The committee contacted Chiefs and former K-State broadcaster Mitch Holthus but could never make the dates work.

Finally this year Kendall Gammon, former NFL longsnapper and Chiefs broadcaster, came to Chingawassa Days. Powers said the crowd wasn’t as big as he had hoped for.

“In this case we thought Kendall did a great job, but we scheduled this as the premier event of the morning on Saturday,” he said. “The crowd just wasn’t there for us, so we would have to call this a miss.”

Last modified July 19, 2012

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