WESTON, Mo. — Crowds turned out in droves to attend the 29th annual Applefest in downtown Weston last weekend.
Weston Chamber of Commerce president Pat Egan gave the preliminary post-Applefest report at the Weston Board of Aldermen meeting held Tuesday, Oct. 10. The meeting was postponed one day due to the Columbus Day holiday.
Preliminary numbers put Applefest attendance at approximately 30,000 visitors over the two-day event, raising more than $10,100 in donation collections. Egan said the chamber and Applefest committee will meet later this week to discuss the festival and begin plans for the 30th anniversary of Applefest in 2018.
Egan said that suggestions of donations of $1 from each adult attending Applefest started four years ago. While collections do help offset some costs, the funds are also often donated to Weston nonprofits.
According to his observations over the past four years, Egan said about half of the adults in attendance donated.
“The weather made it a slow morning Saturday, but attendance picked up by the afternoon,” Egan said. “That’s something we don’t have control of, but it sure makes a difference to attendance.”
Two years ago, Applefest experienced a spike in attendance that caused parking and traffic headaches for visitors and residents alike, but Egan said he believes that was an anomaly. The surge did cause Applefest organizers to restructure the parking system with spaces now available at Weston Bend State Park and Snow Creek Ski Area and overflow at the Iatan Power Plant.
“As much fun as we had a few years ago with 40,000-50,000 people, having parking at Snow Creek wouldn’t have helped,” Egan said.
For a typical attendance year, the new parking system shifted much of the festival traffic outside of the cramped historic district, allowing shuttles to move people to and from downtown.
Another parking change this year proved so successful that the board already approved it for next year. While most parking diverted away from downtown Weston, vendors and permanent merchants and their employees were able to park in the lots near city hall.
“Most of the comments I heard this year were about the parking,” Egan said. “It went so much more smoothly this year using the city lots instead of a hodgepodge.”
Egan thanked city staff for their assistance and Weston chief of police Terry Blanton, who was not present at the meeting. Egan said there were no major incidents he was aware of involving police, and the event overall went smoothly.
“So we’re meeting Thursday to do the post-mortem, and we’re on to next year,” Egan said. “We’re looking forward to having restrooms next year.”
The city’s efforts to get the new permanent public restrooms open in the old police station were stymied by funding difficulties and equipment delays. Last month, aldermen were forced to admit the restroom wouldn’t be open by this Applefest. The opening date is still in question.
At the Tuesday meeting, the board did approve the purchase and installation of stall partitions and accessories for approximately $9,500. The heating and air conditioning system has also been installed.
Weston alderman Mark Seymour said he and director of public works Mike Large are still shopping around for reasonably-priced vandalism-proof fixtures.