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Friday, May 28, 2010

Kansas City Kansas Street Festival

Bad news from KCK.  Thanks to some boneheaded legistlators, ( are there any other kind??)  the very cool Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival has been canceled.  This is unfortunate since this would have been the tenth anniversary of the festival.  Her is the press release from Dawayne Gilley.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            For additional information:
                            Dawayne Gilley – (913) 991-3451

2010 Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival Forced to Cancel

Kansas City, KS, May 28, 2010—The festival dates were set for June 25th and 26th, 2010, which would have been the 10th annual celebration.  But, because of a new Kansas statute and a Wyandotte County-Kansas City, KS, revenue-oriented ordinance, after nine successful years of our festival being a BYOB free event, it is considered illegal to drink on sidewalks, streets, alleys or public right-of-ways—festival or no festival.  Bringing in your own cooler is now the root of the legal trouble for the demise of the festival.  Our festival’s popularity centers on a small town fair, block party, family reunion premise and is not about making money … our festival is about music and the arts.  Furthermore, we do not present famous national headliner acts which would support a non-outside beverage event.

The KCKStreet Blues Festival began at Third & Parallel in the northeast district in 2000, “dressing it up in the neighborhood” and bringing the musicians and the community back to their roots.  We have had nine successful years in the northeast district which has helped give birth and nurturing to the blues and jazz of our city.  Some of our key indigenous artists who have made this festival exceptional include:  Lawrence Wright, Provine “Little” Hatch, King Alex, Millage Gilbert, Ida McBeth, Anetta “Cotton Candy” Washington, Myra Taylor, Diane “Mama” Ray, Linda Shell, KC Kelsey Hill, Sonny Kenner, The Scamps, DC Bellamy, Bill Carter, Danny Cox, Lester “Wizard” King, Bobby Watson, Marva Whitney, Eugene Smiley, Blues Notions, Richard Townsend, Everette DeVan and Jay McShann.  Over the years, the festival has also presented significant national treasures who are not necessarily considered household names like David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Henry Townsend, Lazy Lester, Bobby Rush, Chick Willis, Eddie C. Campbell, Willie King, Texas Johnny Brown and Louisiana Red. 

Over 20 Lifetime Achievement Awards have been presented.  Each year, the festival honors a king or a queen as part of its celebration which brings pride to the community of artists and its fans.  Additionally, the festival presents memorial tributes and remembrances each and every year.  The goal of the festival is to bring all races together, on a grass roots level, and focuses on musicians who were born, raised, lived  or have performed a significant number of years in the Kansas City, KS, community.  This festival is a positive cultural event that survives year after year on a bare bones operating budget.

The Street Blues Festival entertains visitors from almost every U.S. state and most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Korea and Japan.  The festival draws attendees primarily from the metropolitan and regional areas.  Recently, the Kansas City, Kansas–Wyandotte County Convention and Visitors Bureau “Tourism Event of the Year” award was presented to the 2009 Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival.  Our festival has received many honors, the most prestigious being funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003 and 2005.  The blues “Who’s Who” for the past decade has dubbed the Kansas City Kansas Street Blues Festival as a “critics choice blues festival—unassuming, honest and real.”

Again, regrettably, the 2010 free festival has been forced to cancel due to change in state statute and city/county ordinance.  Key decisions by city/county officials could not be solved in a timely manner to allow the fest to go on as scheduled for this year.  It’s our hope that the governing bodies will come together with a new understanding which allows our festival to continue for 2011.  With this in mind, June 24th and 25th, 2011, will give us the opportunity to hold our 10th extended almost annual celebration of a thriving blues heritage … at its current location—13th & State Avenue in Kansas City, KS.

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