Ryan Swaar, committee chair for the Prairie Harvest Days Festival Committee, is of the opinion that this year’s festival, themed: “Hawaiian Hoedown,” was a big success. “The community and the people involved on the committee really pulled through,” he says. “Due to the new advertising formats on tv and radio we were able to pull a lot of people in from out of town. By rough estimate, we had between 3,500 and 3,750 people in the park on Saturday alone.
“Because of improved pre-planning, the committee members could enjoy the festival this year. The theme was a good one, and we saw more people getting into the parade and having fun with it–hula dancers, Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts…. We had double the number of craft vendors, and all the food vendors sold out.”
One lesson from this year’s festival: Be sure to have enough food. By 4:00 pm Saturday, vendors were shutting down, having exhausted resources. “We expect a bigger festival next year,” Swaar says. “The carnival will be supplying more rides. We’ll be inviting more vendors, even if it means we have to double up (allow more than one vendor to sell a particular food product). It’s not about making more money, we just don’t want people leaving early because they are hungry.”
Near perfect weather aided in attendance, as did increased communication with neighboring communities. Swaar envisions all rural towns in the area supporting each other.
What is in the works for next year?
“The big thing is that we’re considering a later date,” Swaar says. “Normally, it’s been the 3rd weekend in September, and we want to honor traditions, but as we grow and change, the date might have to change.”
While nothing is set in stone, Swaar is looking at a Halloween theme next year. “Nothing over the top scary,” he says. “Think Disney scary, not HBO scary. This will always be a family festival.”
Residents are reminded that the Prairie Harvest Days Festival Committee is active year-round, and is open to everyone. “We’re having very few regular meetings this year,” Swaar says. “We’ll be coordinating more through Facebook, and the website. Anybody with ideas is encouraged to join the conversation.”
Prairie Harvest Days 2013 is in the books. Prairie Harvest Days 2014 can be found at www.prairieharvestdays.com and facebook.com/PrairieHarvestDays.