The Arkalalah Festival Executive Committee has announced their decision to cancel the 2020 event.
Previously scheduled for Oct. 28 – 31, the multi-day fall festival is being cancelled as a result of several event partners pulling out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our goal was to make the best decision we could, based upon the information available,” said Jace Kennedy, Arkalalah Executive Committee chairman. “We have reached out to every food vendor, parade participant, and event partner to better understand what the community was feeling. We also have remained in contact with representatives from the City of Arkansas City, Arkansas City Police Department and Emergency Management, and the City-Cowley County Health Department since late spring.”
Through their communications, the committee discovered many of the events long-standing partners would be unable to participate in this year’s event.
“With many major partners finding themselves short of volunteers, we were receiving reports that some of the cornerstone events such as the Kiddie Parade, the pancake feed, the band competition, and Dodgeballalah were unlikely to happen,” said Tasha Bucher, Arkalalah Executive Committee Secretary. “Even the police department was having issues finding enough outside agency assistance to provide security for such a large-scale event.”
Armed with that information, the Arkalalah Committee continued to investigate options for a potential “reduced” Arkalalah, with fewer events. Through past parade participants polls, the committee learned that almost all school bands would be unable to participate, as well as approximately half of the past float or group participants.
“We have the ability to control or adjust a lot of the aspects of Arkalalah, unfortunately who is willing to enter the parade isn’t one of them,” Bucher said.
Commercial partners were also unable to commit to the 2020 festival. Local and regional food vendors had withdrawn their booths. The final straw came when Evans United Shows, the group contracted to provide the carnival, withdrew.
“At some point you just have to step back and decide when to call it. We just had too many cards stacked against us this year for it to make sense for us to proceed,” Kennedy said. “We expect some backlash from this decision, but we could not in good conscious continue with the festival as planned, or even at any kind of reduced capacity. This is not a decision the committee took lightly, or wanted to make, but we will be back for an even bigger and better Arkalalah next year.”
The 89th Annual Arkalalah Festival is now re-scheduled for Oct. 27-30, 2021.
Founded in 1928, the Arkalalah festival was created to lift the spirits of the local community. The name “Arkalalah” was created by Mrs. J.W. Moore with “Ark” representing the town of Arkansas City, and “Alalah” being a Native American word for good time. Today, the Arkalalah festival is a year-round project led by dozens of dedicated volunteers. The multi-day celebration includes three parades, coronation of a Queen-alalah, dozens of food vendors, and numerous events and activities which draw tens of thousands of people each year. To learn more, visit their website at www.arkalalah.com.