Santa-Cali-Gon Days was not in need of a ‘turnaround’

I am writing in reference to an article in the May 27 Examiner. The article surrounded the primary election for the 3rd District seat on the Jackson County Legislature. In particular, I would like to address a sentence describing the background of candidate Lois McDonald that states “The Independence Chamber brought McDonald on board several years ago to turn around its flagship event, the annual Santa-Cali-Gon Days Festival.”

My problem has to do with the wording “turn around.” Sorry, but no. This stuff has to stop.

I left the Chamber of Commerce of my own accord five years ago. I have pretty much kept my mouth shut concerning references to Santa-Cali-Gon Days and the events following my departure. But, after happening onto the aforementioned article, I find that I can’t keep silent any longer.

I don’t doubt that Ms. McDonald is competent filling the current role of director for the festival. But what I do take umbrage regarding is the way The Examiner constantly references the festival as a community event that required saving.

To aid in reminding this newspaper, the festival brought in more than a quarter of a million people during the referenced years. As part of the Chamber staff for almost 15 years, I witnessed the festival’s growth. Back in the day the Chamber and its fair board members brought in headlining entertainment, kept all eight tents full, and, with the help of the Independence Police and Fire Departments, managed huge throngs of festival-goers. We were also able to give our community partners (churches, Boy Scouts, and many other non-profits) a place to raise funds.

I suggest this newspaper reference their own articles during the years the event required this “turnaround.” May I quote directly from your paper? Sept. 7, 2010’s headline reads “Santa-Cali-Gon draws record crowd.” And regarding entertainment during the 2012 festival, “Once again, the finest up-and-coming country music stars are coming to Independence.” And this, “The annual Labor Day Weekend festival features one of the Midwest’s top arts-and-crafts shows, more than 300 commercial vendors and a carnival. Nonprofit organizations operate a majority of the food booths and parking lots and use the revenue for local projects.”

In essence, we gave the community a huge party, a party that we were proud of and made our fellow citizens of Independence proud as well. And, we were able to raise dollars that we gave back to the community and businesses in the form of programs, such as Youth L.E.A.D., school education programs conducted through Chamber members, and economic development incentives.

So, although the article’s sentence was buried within a paragraph, I’m asking that we put this to rest. Take “turn around” or “restore” or any other negative connotations regarding those past festivals out of the rhetoric when discussing Santa-Cali-Gon Days or the Chamber for that matter. I was there; I know better. And dear Examiner, apparently you do too.

Teresa Freeland, Independence

Former Independence Chamber staff