Archive for Friday, August 31, 2007

De Soto celebrates sesquicentennial

August 31, 2007


De Soto Days continue through Saturday

Here's what's on tap for De Soto Days. For more information, visit


¢ Carnival Wristband Night at Miller Park, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., $20 per person, purchase a wristband and ride all of the rides.

¢ Miller Park food booths, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Country-western band, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.


¢ Car show, 8 a.m. to noon, Miller Park, A Field.

¢ Kid's parade, from Peoria to Shawnee on 83rd Street, 9:30 a.m.

¢ De Soto Days Parade, 10 a.m., downtown.

¢ Music In Miller Park from Kaw Prairie Community Church, following the parade until 11:45 a.m.

¢ Children's balloon artist, Miller Park, following the parade for two hours.

¢ Trolley rides from Miller Park gazebo, after parade to 6 p.m.

¢ Craft and commercial booths, Miller Park, B Field, 11 a.m.

¢ VFW Bingo, Miller Park, all day after parade.

¢ Kansas River Gang, Miller Park, T-ball, C Field, noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

¢ Carnival Wristband Night at Miller Park, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., $20 per person.

¢ Adam Wyatt Blue's Band, Miller Park, B Field, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

¢ Black Oak Arkansas Band, Miller Park, B Field, 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

— The theme of this year's De Soto Days Festival may be "Your Town - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow" to further emphasize the city's sesquicentennial.

But in the view of festival organizers, an alternative theme could be "giving back."

De Soto Days continues today and Saturday with food vendors, entertainment and carnival rides at De Soto's Miller Memorial Park at 83rd and Park streets. Saturday will include a 10 a.m. downtown parade and a full day of activities at the park.

Max Atwell, De Soto Days committee chairman, said the committee planned for several years to make the sesquicentennial festival special.

"We generally gave money we made extra back to the community for the ball fields at the park or other improvements," he said. "But the last few years, we've kept that money in the bank so we could do something special for the sesquicentennial."

Denny Hougham, entertainment committee chairman, said the result can be seen in the entertainment he lined up.

"We've never had a real headliner act before," he said. "I suggested since we had the extra money that we try to see who we could land."

Hougham said he had in mind a number of 1970s era groups. Looking around on the Internet, he found Black Oak Arkansas, a group familiar to fellow baby boomers.

"It seemed like they played in all the outdoor concerts around here in the early '70s, either as opening acts or headliners," Hougham said.

He contacted "Jim Dandy" Mangrum, the group's lead singer and subject of the band's hit, "Jim Dandy to the Rescue," and found him receptive about coming to De Soto.

"He loves Lawrence and the Kansas City area," Hougham said. "He asked what size of town De Soto is. He's very excited about coming here."

The group will play at Miller Park's B field from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday. The Adam Wyatt Blues Band will open the evening's entertainment with a two-hour set starting at 7 p.m.

A country-western band will play from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at the park.

Sesquicentennial tie-ins will be prominent Saturday. At the front of the parade will be two trolley cars carrying descendants of people who settled in the community from 1855 to 1899, parade organizer Kathy Ross said. Trolley rides will be available after the parade Saturday until 6 p.m. for tours of De Soto, including a stop at the community historical museum at Abbott Hall, she said.

Photographs from the historical families as well as others will be on display Saturday at a tent on vendors' row in Miller Park, Ross said.

The festival will also mark the first opportunity to purchase an update to a history of De Soto published for the city's 1957 centennial, "De Soto is a Hundred Years Old" by Dot Longstreth.

- De Soto Explorer editor Elvyn Jones can be reached at (785) 542-2747.


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