• Last modified 357 days ago (June 8, 2023)


Rain doesn't dampen festival's reign

Staff writer

For Clayton Garnica, chairman of the festival’s planning committee, the best part of Chingawassa Days was seeing Central Park packed Saturday night despite rain in the afternoon.

“It started pouring, and everybody left,” Garnica said. “We finally got the green light at 6 p.m. The acts said, ‘You get this stage dry, and we will put on a show for you.’ Everyone worked their butts off.”

Garnica estimated that 2,100 people attended the three-day festival, That would put it the top three or four for attendance in the festival’s 25-year history.

Organizers track button sales to estimate attendance.

“Barring the rain, everything went great,” Garnica said. “We had a really good turnout both nights and good responses from people.”

Many visitors were from outside the county. A check by the Record of license plates of more than 300 cars parked along Main St. and side streets Saturday night found that 43% of them were from outside the county.

The opening act for Nate Smith was canceled because of the weather, but Smith and his band worked the stage, Garnica said.

Smith was “really cool and down-to-earth,” he said. “It was still raining when they went on stage.”

Band members played corn hole, Garnica said, and walked around the park as soon as they arrived in their tour bus.

A lot of people dropped everything to help dry the stage, committee member Adam Heerey said.

The moments leading up to performances Saturday were nerve-wracking, but “then we saw people walking into the front gate with their umbrellas, blankets and chairs,” Heerey said.

“It was a super good feeling,” he added. “It really showed us how the community came together.”

Two new events — sanctioned barbecue and corn hole tournaments — were successful, Garnica and Heerey said.

“We had positive responses all around, even from the organizers themselves,” Garnica said.

The corn hole tournament attracted 50 teams of two players each. The barbecue competition, sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, was a hit, Heerey said.

“We actually had four of the top teams in the nation at our barbecue stations,” he said. “The feedback we received from both competitors and judges was that they all want to come back.”

Grand champion was Butcher barbecue. The reserve

champion was Smoked and Furious BBQ. Both teams are from Oklahoma.

The committee will spend the rest of this week working on sales tax and other business details.

Margo Yates, director of community enrichment for the city, has been involved in planning for many years. This is her last year because she’s retiring, Heerey said.

“We owe a huge thanks to her because she’s done so much,” he said. “The community coming together was awesome. We’re thankful for all of our partners and sponsors and vendors.”

Last modified June 8, 2023