The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Have an attraction, draw a crowd. The 4th Annual Blind Boone Music & Arts Festival sure showed that. People who may have never before been to the west side showed up and waited with the rest of the festival folks to see the Kansas City Marching Cobras. Their wait was rewarded by one heck of a high-energy show, very different from what one may see in parades.
One of the objectives of those of us who work on the festival and the park restoration effort is to create a sustainable tourism event for the city. As usual, there were lots of conflicts - Boys State, a football game associated with a CMSU camp, the Knob Noster festival, a renaissance fair in Sedalia. Encouraging was the number of people who came to hear specific performances among the wide variety of music presented, from gospel to ragtime to old-time to blues.
Tourism events bring money. I've seen what people spend at the Scott Joplin Ragtime Festival in Sedalia and at Columbia's Blind Boone event - we spent well over $100 there a week earlier, more than half of it at restaurants and non-festival shopping. These two events are small time compared to what is spent at established and popular events such as Concordia's Oktoberfest or Warsaw Heritage Days. Warrensburg needs events that will draw outside visitors and their money and will fill motel rooms - the ones that fill the coffers for the Warrensburg Chamber's "tourism effort."
The Blind Boone festival could be that kind of event. While it's growing on word of mouth and free publicity, it could use a bit of assistance. I have criticized the chamber's use of tourism tax money in the past because they've done nothing to develop attractions. We have an attraction developing on its own, by a group with the determination to continue it after the park restoration is complete. The question is - will the rest of the city get on board?
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