Summer Daze to return

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Sand Creek Charlie will return to the banks of Sand Creek this summer, after taking a year off from his work as festival host for the Sand Creek Summer Daze. 

The Sand Creek Summer Daze will make a return in 2021, with the festival planned for July.

The festival, which was poised to celebrate its third year, was cancelled in 2020 when crowd size restrictions and COVID-19 made it difficult for the event to soldier on. 

"We decided it was not worth the safety concerns for the safety of the city and community," said Greg Hanson, festival organizer. "When you want to do something fun for the community, you don't want to put it at risk."

But in the world of COVID-19 numbers are trending downward, and vaccines released. This week the Harvey County Commission lifted crowd size restrictions as the pandemic has eased. 

And the festival will come back — the city of Newton approved street closures and temporary alcohol permits for the festival scheduled July 3 through 10 in Newton. 

In August of 2020 the Sand Creek Summer Daze was unable to host a full festival, but promoted the 2021 festival theme of the 1980s with a public art installation at the Newton Depot.

"The commission and city workers, park workers and rec commission have done a tremendous job of pushing us along to help us out. We could not do this without them helping us out," Hanson said.  "... I want to thank everyone at the city, say 'thank you' for the support." 

Some of the planning for this edition of the festival was easier than years past — the committee kept the theme of the 2020 festival (1980s) and updated some promotional items.

The previously two-day festival has now grown to six days. 

"More fun stuff came up. We were doing two days lat year, and now we are up to six. There are more businesses that want to help us out and more community help," Hansons said.

The annual mediallion hunt will  begin July 2, with a $500 prize to the first person to find the medallion.

Some of the first events of the festival will be the easiest for festival volunteers — events that will offer discounted or free admission with a festival button though not operated by the festival. 

July 3 will be an 80s big hair band concert at the Wild Prairie Event Center. July 7 will feature a free skate at the Highrollers Skate and Funzone. 

"What we have done, you try and copy other festivals. [Others] don;t handle everything, and we won't either," Hanson said. "... We added a Sunday concert this year with Christian bands, and a fishing tournament at Camp Hawk. ... We are adding some really cool stuff."

"We are making an effort to be all inclusive in the festival this year. We have tried that in the past too. We are trying to involve the hispanic community this year, and not leave anyone out," Hanson said. 

Part of that, he said, was creating an event for a population that he believes is often ignored. At 10:30 a.m. July 10 the festival will host "Grindin' Sand Creek,' a skateboard competition at Okerburg Park, 415 N. Poplar. 

"That is segment that we have not been able to get much attention from ... those kids mean a lot to the community and we want them to be a part of the festival as well," Hanson said.