Organizers ready to go with new city festival
In a month, area residents will get their first look at a new spring tradition: Edwardsville Days.
The new two-day festival is set for April 26 and 27 at Edwardsville City Park. Organizers hope it eventually will be a bigger and better version of the city’s former festival, Autumnfest, which took place in September, according to Kaylene Rindom, chair of the festival’s organizing committee and current president of the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce.
The chamber decided last year to cancel and discontinue Autumnfest, always set just three weeks after Bonner Springs’s Tiblow Days in August. Rindom said the planning process for the two chamber-sponsored events overlapped tremendously, causing a strain on sponsorships, organizers and volunteers.
“So our thought process was if we moved it to a spring-time event, we’d be able to focus on each festival individually and make each bigger and better,” Rindom said.
She added that in the fall, Autumnfest had to compete with a lot of other fall festivals and events in the Kansas City metropolitan area, and that won’t be the case in the spring.
The chamber also planned to move the city festival’s location from Downtown Edwardsville to Edwardsville City Park.
“A lot of people aren’t really familiar with Edwardsville Park, but it’s a beautiful space and it’s huge, so we decided to take advantage of the space we have,” Rindom said.
On Friday, April 26, the event is set to include the Smokin’ in the Ville BBQ contest, a carnival with rides and craft/food vendors, and music provided by local band Groove Pilots and a Journey tribute band.
On Saturday, April 27, the carnival and barbecue contest will continue, and there will be a morning parade, car show, hip hop show, evening musical entertainment and a chili, pie and salsa competition.
Rindom said the festival will follow the basic format that Autumnfest has had the past three years, though organizers hope the festival will grow in the future.
Another event that will carry over from recent Autumnfests is “Edwardsville Idol,” which allows festival-goers to perform either karaoke or their own songs.
“It’s fun – if you got up and sang, there was a little token prize at the end,” Rindom said. “I’m not sure how we’re going to do that this year, but it was something fun to get the crowd involved and usually drew a good crowd.”
Missing from the festival will be the late Phyllis Freeman, the city’s former city clerk who almost single-handedly planned Autumnfest for the past several years. Rindom said in Freeman’s absence, many more community members have stepped up to help out.
“Truly this year it became a big community effort — between the city, the chamber and local citizens that have pitched in, it was everybody coming together and pitching in to make it work,” Rindom said. “I’m really proud of the committee we put together because it really was a cooperative between a number of people. That’s been really, really cool.”
Details about the festival are still evolving, and Rindom said there’s always room for anyone who wants to help as a volunteer, sponsor or parade participant. Anyone interested in being in the parade won’t be required to sign up, just show up.
“If you’re interested, just show up City Hall parking lot by 9 or 9:30 a.m. Saturday and we’ll line you up,” Rindom said.
Rindom said for updates on the festival’s schedule or to participate as a volunteer or sponsor, check the chamber website at bsedwchamber.org or contact the chamber at 913-422-5044.