Archive for Thursday, October 16, 2003

Festival staying home in Wyandotte County

October 16, 2003

The worry is washed away for operators of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival for two reasons: they recently completed another season and last week they learned they'll still have a home for the next five years.

On Friday, Oct. 10, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County announced they and executives of Mid America Festivals had completed a five-year agreement to keep the annual seven-week festival in Wyandotte County.

"It's a huge relief," said Carrie Shoptaw, Renaissance Festival general manager. "It's always difficult just getting the show on let alone worrying about the property. We're all excited, we're just too tired to show it. We're thinking it, though, and we're thrilled."

The Kansas City Renaissance Festival is the second largest cultural event of its kind in the country and takes place each year from Labor Day to Columbus Day.

Under the agreement, Mid America Festivals will build a $1 million Feast Hall for year-round events. The company is also increasing payments to the Unified Government and will share revenues with the county.

The festival dates back to 1977 when the Kansas City Art Institute leased the site for a fund-raiser. Mid America Festivals, a partner with the Art Institute, took over the event in 1997.

In May, the Unified Government opened requests for proposals for the ground because the 20-year lease expires Dec. 31. The request for proposals specified the ground would be used for entertainment purposes, county officials said.

Two other groups vied for leasing the property.

Representatives from one of those groups, Festival Village LLC of Bonner Springs, were not pleased with Wyandotte County's selection.

In a press release, Festival Village LLC contends county officials indicated Renaissance Festival vendors were in favor of new management.

Wyandotte County officials defended their selection of Mid America Festivals.

"The negotiated agreement is the best arrangement possible for thousands of people who attend the festival every year and it is the best possible deal for taxpayers of Wyandotte County, who will experience even more financial benefits from this nationally known event," said Mike Taylor, Unified Government public relations director.

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