Large crowds turned out for Olathe’s annual Old Settlers Celebration last weekend. Festival organizers estimate that more than 200,000 people attended the three-day event.
This resulted in steady sales at the festival’s food booths, arts and crafts booths and carnival rides.
“Our vendors were really pleased,” Old Settlers Grounds Chairman Jay Lang said.
“Overall, it was a good event, except for Friday night when we had to shut down a little early.”
Rain, wind and lightning forced the festival to close shortly before 9 p.m. Friday. Organizers say this did affect attendance and sales on Friday. However, by Saturday, the nice weather returned and so did the throngs of people who came out to enjoy all that the festival had to offer.
“Saturday had fantastic weather,” Lang said. “The crowds were really thick and it seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves.”
Saturday’s sunshine and mild temperatures extended to parade time. Organizers estimate that around 80,000 people came out on Saturday morning for the parade. Lang said that crowds were six-deep all the way up to the end of the parade route on Buchanan Street.
Those in attendance definitely brought their appetites to this year’s Old Settlers Celebration. Lang said several of the nonprofit groups that ran food booths reported selling out of items a few hours before the festival closed Saturday night.
“One of our vendors, the Olathe Jaycees, sold turkey legs and they sold more than 100 cases over the three-day period,” Lang said. “We turned off the electricity at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night and they still had lines at 11 p.m.”
As in years past, grange pups, the popular hot dog dipped in a pancake-like batter, were in high demand during this year’s celebration. The Morning Grange, a nonprofit group that has been selling the iconic treat since 1948, said that the Old Settlers Celebration is their biggest fundraiser all year.
Money raised over the three-day festival funds more than $4,000 in college scholarships, the donation of dictionaries to third-graders in the Spring Hill School District and other community-based projects throughout the year.
“We want very strongly to help the community and we are able to do that through this fundraiser,” Morning Grange Secretary Lance Harra said.
“This vehicle, the pup stand as we call it, is for raising funds for virtually every activity we do in the community. All of these activities are funded by the pup stand.”
Harra said sales of the grange pups were down this year. He said that’s most likely a result of the bad weather Friday. Harra said the Morning Grange grossed more than $22,000 in sales this year. He estimates they sold about 9,500 grange pups over the three-day-period. That’s down about 2,000 from last year’s festival.
“Even though sales were down, we still had a good year,” Harra said. “We have never had a year where we were just hoping to break even. We always turn a profit.”
Overall, Old Settlers’ organizers call this year’s event a success. They appreciate everyone that came out over the three days to enjoy the event. And they are always grateful to those who make it a point to attend the one-of-a-kind celebration every year.
“It’s a tradition,” Lang said. “This was the 118th year of Old Settlers and there are not too many things that go on for more than 100 years.”