On Saturday, the 11th annual Mission Arts & Eats Festival and Battle of the Brisket Kansas State Championship barbecue contest had to compete with events across the metro area — from the Riverside Music Festival to the Plaza Art Fair to the Waldo Fall Festival.
And then there’s what one resident called “the Johnson Drive nightmare,” the massive reconstruction of downtown Mission’s main street.
Maybe that’s why some vendors sold less than they planned.
“Friday night was better, with the families of the people competing in the barbecue coming in to buy things,” said Michelle Spigarelli, artist and owner of Painting Petunias, a Lee’s Summit-based business that sells hand-painted tea towels. “But there was so much going on around town on Saturday that there wasn’t much traffic.”
Vendors set up in the Sylvester Powell Jr. Community Center at 6200 Martway St., selling their locally made products, including pot holders, jewelry, wood bowls, cashew brittle and travel candles.
Still, some sales spilled over to surrounding businesses.
Robert Palmgren, owner of RJ’s Bob-Be-Que Shack with his wife, Denise, was on one of 47 teams in the barbecue competition. But when festivalgoers found they couldn’t purchase the competition barbecue, several headed to Palmgren’s restaurant, just off Johnson Drive at 5835 Lamar Ave.
Virginia Warn, who moved to Mission a couple years ago, stopped at the craft fair and then planned to eat lunch at RJ’s with her family. But she’s also a customer of Casey’s Auto Repair at 5917 Beverly Ave. and first stopped by the shop hoping to try a bite of its competition barbecue — Pistons High Octane BBQ.
“They have the cleanest garage,” said Warn, who lives south of Johnson Drive. In the last few months, she has mostly just ventured to the area to go to Casey’s, CVS or to visit family members north of Johnson Drive.
“I love this area but my goodness, the construction has been going on forever,” Warn said.
Still, it hasn’t hurt Casey’s business.
“There are just too many ways to get to my place,” said Carl Casey, co-owner with his wife, Cathy. “But if you can weather the repairs — that needed to be done — then I think it is really going to help business and bring new traffic here. This is just a quaint little town. You can’t beat it.”
Mission Fresh Fashion, a retail store at 6102 Johnson Drive, planned for the slow-down during construction, including sending out weekly emails to customers promoting the business and even offering a valet service out front. Several of Saturday’s festivalgoers were willing to venture across Johnson Drive, even as westbound traffic was backed up for a block or more.
“We had 15 people in the store at once this morning. That’s the most we have seen at one time in eight months,” said Becky Hanf, co-owner of Mission Fresh Fashion. “We are hoping when it (the road construction) is completed in November that out-of-state people visiting Ikea will drive down Johnson Drive to the Plaza and stop by on the way.”
The winners of the KS BBQ Battle of the Brisket Contest were announced late Saturday. They were:
Dessert, first place: Crazy Bones BBQ
Side dish, first place: 88 Miles Per Hour
Reserve grand champion, second place: Truebud BBQ
Grand champion, first place: Brew ’N’ Bar-B-Que