“We didn’t know how much time it would take to get the stage safe because it had taken on water,” he said. “The band was also dealing with two massive generators pushing electricity up onto the stage with water on it.”
The show, he added, was not supposed to have any pyrotechnics involved and the committee didn’t want to have an inadvertent one.
The only disappointment was the committee would have preferred to have the decision come later.
“That ultimate decision was made by the band,” he said.
Even though the committee advocated waiting longer, the band made the call, Powers added, and there wasn’t much the committee could do.
“We would have also preferred a little more opportunity for discussion and input,” he said.
Although Powers said he and the rest of the committee were excited about the entertainment, the weather didn’t cooperate.
“We had a lot of people in their 30s excited,” he said. “We had country (Joe Nichols) Friday and rock (FireHouse) Saturday. This was going to be maybe our most perfect mix.”
Even with the news FireHouse wasn’t going to play, Powers said the committee was still proud of Friday.
“Anyone in the park Friday and during the day Saturday, up until the weather issue, couldn’t have found much to take issue or fault with. I think it went well,” he said.
Powers also explained why refunds won’t be made even though FireHouse didn’t perform.
“We don’t sell tickets to a concert,” he said. “We sell buttons that get you into a festival, and that festival has entertainment two nights, a barbecue, ice cream and opportunities to win prizes.”
The weather, however, created a unique situation in that it was the first time in 17 years a concert was cancelled.
“We have always been lucky (regarding weather and the festival),” he said.
Powers thanked USD 408 school personnel for all their help in the event the venue was changed to the Marion County Sports & Aquatic Center.
“The school district has always been phenomenally cooperative with us and if we would have gone to SAC, they would have covered the floor, we would have pulled down stands, set up a make shift stage, connect generators outside and ask people to bring lawn chairs or stand,” he said.
If the committee had decided to move the entertainment indoors, it would have messed up the vendors, he said.
The committee does have a contingency plan, Powers said.
“We have it worked it out that if it’s raining, we have places to move vendors with some going to the community center and some to SAC.”
The problem was the timing on Saturday night’s rain came in at the worst possible time, he said.
Powers said the committee also appreciated the businesses, city of Marion, the Marion County Sheriff’s office, Marion City Police Department and the National Weather Service in Wichita for being supportive.
Each year, the committee and performers set up a “meet and greet,” which is a way to reward the members for the hard work they put in that year.
Meet and greets, he said, are fairly typical whenever bands entertain.
For the committee members, it is a handshake and picture with the performer or if it’s a business, he said, the meet and greet might be used for good customers.
“But one of the more touching moments this year,” Powers said, “involved a family who has a daughter with a disability and wanted to see Joe Nichols.”
After talking to Nichols’ manager, Powers said he was skeptical, but then OK with the idea.
“We had to have this young woman at a certain place, exactly at 8:15 p.m. so that when Joe got off the bus and was going backstage, she would have 30 seconds to one minute with him.
“He was gracious, he took his time, talked to this young woman, hugged her, had a picture taken with her, hugged her again, signed her T-shirt and she was beaming,” he said.
The exchange was so moving that Powers said one of the committee members watching started crying.
“Bad things happened on the weekend having to do with weather, but that was a very nice part of the weekend.”
Another surprise involved Jennifer Stegman and Kenny Newell, both of Marion.
Stegman said she was surprised when Newell asked her to marry him right before the Friday night performance.
“Five years of waiting finally paid off,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it and I started crying like a baby.”
What amazed Stegman, she said, was that all of their children, his four and her four, knew about it for two weeks and didn’t say a word.
“He did good,” she said about Newell.
Scheduling for Chingawassa Days, Powers said, is something that needs to flow so that people can move from here to there.
“We don’t want to have two events simultaneous to the same age group.”
This year, the committee did try to schedule arm wrestling so that it was almost a stand alone event.
“I think it worked,” he said. “They had a nice crowd and it was very successful.
Clayton Garnica also did a good job on this year’s debut of Rhino Blackout.
“I hope it gets brought back next year,” Powers said, because he had good ideas on how to make it better.”
Because of a time crunch, though, some things ran long and were pushing things against something else, he said.
In this situation, the prelims for Rhino Blackout were going on at same time as the Marion Police dog demonstration.
“The demonstration was very interesting and pulled a lot of people away,” he said. “The Rhino Blackout finals were Saturday evening and it was really cute, but unfortunately we needed to get it done—cutting the time in half.”
For Powers, the game didn’t get a fair shot and said he hopes the committee will consider it for a second time.
The following are winners in the men’s bed racing division:
First place: Case & Son Insurance and Dan Baldwin- Austin Pedersen, Taylor Heidebrecht, James Jones, Shaq Thiessen and Cheyenne Jeffery.
Second place: Mattress Haven-Bryce Schults with Cole Lewman, Zac Lewman, Brayden Putter and Brody Carroll.
Third place: C&J Roofing- Landon Pedersen with Mason Pedersen, Kennedy Fahey, Braden Fahey and Tyler Neufeld.
In the open division, first place: Express Print/Marion Police Department with McKenzee Remmers, Marshelle Mermis, Kourtney Hansen, Erika Hess and Kayla Kroupa.
Second place: Hett Construction with Phoebe Hett, Marissa Jacobson, Shelby Felvis, Emily Davies and Cameron Kimbrough.
Third place: Wagonwheel Express with Molly Hess, Falon Crawford, Krisde Robinson, Chrissy McFall and Remington Putter.
Brant Stephenson, who graduated from Marion High School this year and plans to enlist in the U.S. Army was walking around the park as “Mr. Cuddlesworth.” Although not associated with the festival, he said he wanted to make young people smile.
“It’s just a character I made up,” he said, “and so I am hanging out and taking pictures with people.”
Some years, Powers said putting together a schedule can be a delicate, juggling act.
“Sometimes it goes alright and sometimes it just gets off kilter,” he said.
“We decided not to try literally to make people have to pick and choose. We scheduled a few less things and made it a more leisurely pace.”
Speaking for himself and a few others on the committee, Powers said the numbers were good this year.
“We have also revised what we are looking for. If we have people wandering in and out of the park and they are having a pleasant time and are having a pleasant time Friday and Saturday night, then life is good,” he said.