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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter: Help is needed to organize and maintain festival

  • Recently, an article in the Leavenworth Times contained some inconsistencies as to our local community festival. This has caused some confusion from readers. Hopefully, this Letter to the Editor will clear up some of that confusion.
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  • To the editor:
    Recently, an article in the Leavenworth Times contained some inconsistencies as to our local community festival. This has caused some confusion from readers. Hopefully, this Letter to the Editor will clear up some of that confusion.
    Leavenworth Main Street is our only local, not-for-profit organization dedicated to economic and small business development for downtown Leavenworth. From Riverfest to First City Festival to Buffalo Bill Days, Leavenworth Main Street has hosted a community festival to showcase our historic downtown.
    However, the workforce and our volunteer base have changed. Leavenworth Main Street is now at a crossroads with regards to hosting Buffalo Bill Days. The reality is that countless hours are spent developing, organizing, executing and hosting a large community festival. An army of volunteers is needed during the event. In addition, many key volunteers are needed on an annual basis for a festival of this magnitude. Planning should begin 12 months out, with committees responsible for chairing specific activities.
    There are also many other challenges including facility reservations, street and parking lot closures, inclement weather and short-term business interruptions. We understand that other entities also struggle to maintain a strong volunteer base and experience operational challenges. Leavenworth Main Street recently asked several local organizations if they would partner to host the festival, all sharing in the duties and profits. However, that response wasn't positive.
    When Buffalo Bill Days originated long ago, it was a community-hosted festival, with many organizations participating. If it is to continue, the community must get involved and be excited to take part in this tradition. Despite all the challenges, the Leavenworth Main Street Program plans to continue to provide quality community events as it always has. However, our capability to stage a large community festival has declined. Current 2013 plans include a smaller Buffalo Bill Days event showcasing the Leavenworth Hog Wild West BBQ Contest and Tasting, music, entertainment and other activities on Sept. 13 and 14.
    We want the community to understand that even though Leavenworth Main Street takes pride in hosting exceptional events and we desire Buffalo Bill Days to be a premier festival for our community, our organization's role is not to serve as the community's event coordinator. We are a non-profit organization whose mission is economic development and historic preservation within the historic downtown. We work with many small businesses, entrepreneurs and developers to maintain full storefronts, develop upper-story living and host many activities to bring visitors and community downtown annually. We assist businesses and individuals with gap funding, educational opportunities and entrepreneurial growth. We market downtown Leavenworth as a destination, provide general business support and are a community partner with other entities.
    Our standing committees and board of directors all give of their time as volunteers, many operating their businesses, raising families and participating with other organizations as well. With one-and-a-half paid staff, our time to focus on small business and downtown development is significantly limited each year with festival development and implementation.
    Page 2 of 2 - We would welcome support from any individual volunteers or other groups to consider a new structure for a community-hosted Buffalo Bill Days for the future. We're always available to visit personally at your convenience, via email, director@leavenworthmainstreet.com (or contact any board member as listed on our website) or by phone, 913-682-3924.

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