Lenexa artist Cathie Thompson could be found last Saturday with easel and paintbrush in hand amid the bustling activity of Parkville Days. There was live music across from her, the smell of food vendors wafting through the air, water purifying experts selling their services, handmade soaps for sale and karate clubs demonstrating their moves.
The landscape painter does not normally have so much activity around her as she paints, but Thompson said she was having fun.
She was one of about two dozen artists who spent the week participating in the Paint Parkville invitational, which was held for the first time in conjunction with the Parkville Days festival in mid-August.
Parkville Days Chairman Tom Hutsler has been running the event for the last 22 years. He says they drew a crowd of more than 30,000 people to the three-day event. One highlight was a parade on Saturday.
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The Main Street Parkville association started Parkville Days in 1994 as a way to promote the downtown area. Hutsler says he is happy the organization has created an event that has become a tradition for the community and helps promote Parkville in practical ways.
“When you put on special events, it brings in lots of people, and a lot of the merchants do really well,” Hutsler said, adding that downtown stores, restaurants and the city’s surrounding businesses benefit from the crowds.
Parkville Days started with a carnival run by Evans Midland Empire Shows. Organizers liked the company so much, they’ve been using the same vendor for 22 years.
This year the show featured a nearly $500,000 new ride called the Downdraft, which was only a week old. Every year Hutsler tries to add something new, or start up an old favorite, like the exotic animal petting zoo, brought back this year for the first time in 15 years. Through the years, artisans, commercial vendors and non-profits and church groups have also added to the event.
“The main street association uses this event as one of our major fundraisers of the year, but it also gives other non-profits, like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, a chance to raise funds for their organizations,” Hutsler said.
The Sunday morning 5K and 10K run also helped raise money to support the next major community event in Parkville sponsored by the Main Street Association: the Christmas on the River festival. That event, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 18, is a holiday season kick-off featuring the local schoolchildren’s choir and fireworks.