The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
It’s summer, by the thermometer if not the calendar. That means it’s festival time. The past two weeks featured the Scott Joplin festival in Sedalia, Blind Boone fests in Warrensburg and Columbia, the Knob Noster fair and the Whiteman AFB air show. A well-run festival of any size requires a tremendous amount of effort in planning, organizing, publicizing and just plain hard work. Those of us deeply involved in Warrensburg’s Blind Boone Park restoration appreciate the time and talent donated by some very accomplished musicians, the volunteers who helped staff the food souvenir and information booths, and the artists and vendors who displayed. We thank our fellow citizens who took the time to visit the west side and enjoy our festival.
I’ve attended a number of the festivals mentioned above. Every festival gathers some sort of governmental support. Obviously, the Wings over Whiteman was the most heavily publicized and attended event, put on at great cost to the taxpayers. The Air Force believes that the public relations and recruiting benefits outweigh their costs. It’s doubtful that the State of Missouri, Johnson County or Knob Noster recouped the costs of extra police and emergency service personnel needed for the crowded streets and highways.
The Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia was “singing the blues” because their state grant was cut from $10,000 to $3,000. They also get at least $5000 from their city and $1000 from their Chamber. They pay the musicians, although they have a reputation for not providing performers as much as other festivals in the genre. Nevertheless, we saw several tour buses and a lot of out-of-town people and we understand that most tickets for the 7 pay-to-attend events were sold. The Blind Boone Ragtime and Early Jazz festival in Columbia is supposed to raise funds for restoring Boone’s Columbia home as a museum. While the two-day event also had some big-name paid entertainers and received support from the local Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Monday daytime attendance was understandable fairly light.
Here in Warrensburg, the Blind Boone Music & Culture festival drew a good crowd despite competition with the air show. It received cooperation from the city and chamber, but no direct financial support. Those who attended enjoyed excellent music, a play, and lemonade to die for, without having to wait in line for hours. There was a greater variety of food, more booths, and a homier feeling to it. Hope you can enjoy your only home town festival next year.
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