March is one busy month. Since we returned from Daytona it has been nonstop for Diana and I. Snake Saturday is quite time consuming the last two weeks leading up to the parade, but it is not just a parade. There are four events which make up Snake Saturday, the Grand Marshal Celebration, the Lad and Lassie event, the Charity Cookoff, and of course the parade and festival.

The Grand Marshal Celebration which is like a racing banquet occurs 9 days before Snake Saturday. At this event we recognize the current year Grand Marshal, this year Charles Garney, and we recognize a volunteer to this event with the Shamrock Award. Congratulations to Terry Loos for his 20-year contribution to Snake Saturday, the 2016 Shamrock Award winner. Terry let me remind you the jacket comes with a price, exactly what I told Diana in 2010 when I was awarded this honor. The Grand Marshal event is like a racing banquet, tickets are sold to the event, thank you Garney family for selling an additional 6 tables this year, there is a silent auction, and in this case North Kansas City food vendors support this event with free samples of their food. Additionally, since this is an Irish event we have Irish Dancers, Irish entertainment, and the emcee was Fox 4’s Joe Lauria. The event ends with a live auction for some great prizes.

The week before Snake Saturday is always fun as we hold the Lad and Lassie contest. This contest is for 2-year-old to seven years old as they compete to ride in the parade. The competition is simply their outfit matching the parade theme, this year “Wee the People”, and their charm. The children walk across the stage and simply are rated by the three judges. This event was held many years ago at the Antioch Mall and continues today as part of Snake Saturday. It is a great event to ensure our great future both for Snake Saturday and our country’s future.

The Charity Cookoff celebrated it’s 20th year. This event is for 501c3 organizations and everyone is guaranteed to double their money. The entry fee is $25, the steak to cook is provided by Northland Festivals via US Foods. Organizations round up several of their friends and compete by cooking the steak and presenting it to the judges. It is tough being a judge, we have to rate the entry on appearance (throw in some potatoes and carrots and jalapeno peppers off the grill helps), taste, and tenderness. Diana tallies the scores on her computer, Rose writes the checks, I get to sign the checks, and then $6,000 in prize money is awarded. Thank you NKC Hospital and Glynda Jacobson for making this happen. Congratulations to St. Patrick’s Parish a first time entry who took home the $1,050 first prize. Would love to see the Central Auto Racing Boosters Hall of Fame, which is a 501c3, participate in this event, three years they have had their 501c3 and been eligible.

Finally, the day of the parade and festival arrives. A lot of hard work has been accomplished by the Northland Festivals Board of Directors, the committees, the NKC businesses, and the city and employees of North Kansas City. Behind the scenes tents, are ordered and put up, concessions people arrive after months of coordination, the carnival is in place, a layout of the staging, festival area, and porta potty placement has been completed, public works has placed trash cans, move equipment, placed cones and barricades, the police have coordinated for mutual assistance from other local departments, the fire department has completed their inspections and cleaned and repaired the Snake Saturday Grand Marshal float, bands have been obtained, parking permission has been granted, insurance has been purchased and contracts have been signed, meetings have occurred, badges have been made, tshirts and sweat shirts have been prepared and purchased, volunteers have been contacted, and advertisement has been paid and displayed, photo booth, petting animals, pony rides and race cars in place, the parade attendees are in place, and at 11 a.m. the parade starts moving off 14th street onto Swift, turning right on Armour, and then down Howell. All the months of preparation are a go and the fun has begun. But wait we are not through, the parade entries are judged, at 3 P.M. at the NKC YMCA we hold an awards ceremony where prizes and money are presented. This year over $50,000 in prizes were awarded. In the Rainbow Division alone, which again is for 501c3 organizations, $30,000 dollars was doled out with the first place team taking home $7,000 and second place $5,000. The Family Organized Groups and Youth (FOGY) also received prizes and the Central Auto Racing Boosters received third place for their entry.

Now did I say March was busy? While all this was ongoing, we were also working on assisting the opening of I-35 Speedway, both for practice originally scheduled against Snake Saturday but due to weather moved to the following Monday, and for the opening event at the track, the USMTS Missouri Meltdown on March 20. Yes we jump right from one busy period to the summer busy period and oh by the way the potatoes, radishes, and lettuce made it to the garden.