“We are maxed out for this year’s Sunflower Festival with 255 vendors and 318 booth spaces.”
By Meg Dickens
In the aftermath of the 17th annual Sunflower Festival, unrest was fueled by community complaints of “broken promises,” and discussions of moving the festival off Main Street caused widespread controversy, spawning a petition with nearly 700 signatures to keep the festival in its current place. This year’s festival will be happening on July 9, and organizers have taken various extra steps to ensure the same problems do not arise as the festival grows.
In case of more issues, organizers invited the public to the most recent City Council meeting as an extra layer of support.
“Since they (the council) brought up the Sunflower Festival again last month, we aren’t sure what we are actually getting for the festival even though we were approved for the whole Main Street with some compromises and an emergency plan,” organizers reached out to the community for support through social media. “We are inviting anyone and everyone who supports the sunflower festival to please join us. This has been such a difficult year of battling the town to put this festival on for the community.”
The majority of the drama from last year’s festival revolved around two businesses having facilities blocked. Organizer Renee Proffitt was in discussions with the city on how to move the festival to avoid clashes when she spoke to these business owners. According to Proffit, they agreed to the festival’s use of the entire road under the condition that specific access points are open, and some patchwork was done to an alley to allow better access to Johnson County Bank at that time. According to City Recorder Sheila Shaw, there is precedence for work on this alley, and the city agreed to this condition.
The two businesses reportedly sent letters confirming that they were okay with the original plan, allowing full use of Main Street. Proffitt reports that all side roads will be open and that volunteers will be ensuring no one blocks access with parking.
In accordance with Police Chief Joey Norris, the middle of the street will be clear to allow easy access to any emergency medical personnel. There will also be first aid on the scene via a first aid tent.
The festival has insurance and an emergency plan filed with the city. With all official plans settled and final approval finished, the 18th annual Sunflower Festival will be another major hit.
As of April 9, organizers announced that they hit capacity for vendors. People new to the area have expressed excitement, and long-time community members are ready for the largest festival yet.
“We are maxed out for this year’s Sunflower Festival with 255 vendors and 318 booth spaces,” organizers shared via social media. “This is the biggest festival to date, and we can’t be more excited for July!”
For information, updates, and more on the upcoming festival, see Facebook @mctn.sunflowerfestival.