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Slater field of festivals continues to flourish

Thursday, May 8, 2008

(Photo)
Shane Eddy, left, and Don Ronnebaum speak to the Slater City Council Tuesday, May 6, about the Slater RC Field of Dreams radio-controlled airplane flying club. The club hopes to hold a sanctioned fly-in this fall.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Slater's fleet of festivals continues to grow, according to city officials.

Mayor Stephen Allegri reported to the city council Tuesday, May 6, about recent events, each of which was successful in its own way, he said, in bringing people to town, and he previewed events coming this summer.

In April, Slater hosted its first professional conference, a gathering of 100 glass artists April 24-27 who were invited by local glass artist Nigel Caulfield.

The members of Glass Artists of North American and Nigel's Glass Shop made a gift to the city, an etching of the late actor Steve McQueen, who once lived in Slater and has a festival in his honor in the town each spring.

The etching includes the words, "Thanks for the hospitality," and Allegri said that is what the town is becoming well-known for among visitors who come to the growing number of events there.

"The members (of the glass artists group) complimented the town and how the citizens welcomed them and how they felt at home," he said. "They were so excited they are planning to come back."

Allegri said another April event, the State of Saline County forum, was also a success, bringing more than 100 people to Slater to discuss the future of the county.

May began with two events, the circus and the citywide garage sale, both of which were well-attended, he said.

Councilman Terry Jordan noted that more than 500 people attended the circus.

Next up on the festival schedule is the annual Bear Creek Blues Festival June 28, which has grown in size each year, packing music fans onto the high school football field for eight hours of food, dancing and music.

The line-up this year includes Lil' Ed and the Blues Imperials, Mike Zito, Lew Jetton & 61 South, Doghouse Daddies and Mr. Fletcher's One-Man Band with guest Scott McCullough on harp.

And in the fall, area residents will likely see a new event, a radio-controlled airplane festival sponsored by the Slater RC Field of Dreams.

Five members of the group appeared at the council meeting to thank the city for the use of the airport for their regular flying sessions, Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, weather permitting. There is no admission and the public is welcome to come watch.

(Photo)
Slater Mayor Stephen Allegri displays a glass etching of Steve McQueen presented to the city by Glass Artists of North America, a group that recently held a conference in Slater. Allegri said members of the group were so impressed with Slater's hospitality that they intend to schedule more meetings there.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
"We have pretty much commandeered the Slater airport," said Tim Reeder. "There have been a lot more take-offs and landings in past months than in the past 15 years. More crashes, too."

But he assured the council that the members of the club do clean up the debris from mishaps.

Don Ronnebaum, another radio-controlled plane flyer, noted that club members also keep the area mowed using their own equipment.

Reed and Ronnebaum also announced that the group has received its charter from the Academy of Model Aeronautics, an organization that provides with membership $2.5 million in liability insurance coverage.

Now that it is officially part of AMA, the local group plans to hold a sanctioned event this fall, probably early in September.

Ronnebaum said the group has 22 members now but has had flyers from the Kansas City area come to Slater to fly. That, in fact, is where they got the idea for the group's name.

Visitors from the city were amazed at the amount of space the Slater airport offered for their hobby.

"They said, 'This is a field of dreams,'" Ronnebaum said.

He said the fly-in last year, advertised only by word-of-mouth, attracted 50 pilots with 76 planes.

Also representing the group at the meeting were Shane Eddy, Kevin Mullins and Richard Bryson.

Allegri also announced that a public hearing will take place at City Hall Monday, May 19, at 5 p.m. to discuss the development of a walking trail. The project will include the removal of 1,120 feet of sidewalk and the addition of 2,640 feet of ADA-compliant walking trail.

"We're interested in getting citizen input," Allegri said.

On the Net:

www.bearcreekblues.com

Contact Eric Crump at marshalleditor@socket.net



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