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Waterfest is bigger, better than ever

Waterfest 2013 is set to offer more music, food, activities and fun than ever before.

The festival, which officially kicks off with a ceremony at the Hall of Waters at 1:45 p.m. today, hits the ground running with six dozen booths covering everything from arts and crafts, to non-profit, to commercial enterprises and nearly a dozen food vendors.

Music fans can catch the first round of the EX Factor amateur singing competition from 6 to 9 p.m. on the main stage, located at Broadway and Elizabeth. The 18 female semifinalists will perform, followed by JD & the Chasers from 9 to 11 p.m. The Pyro Sapiens fire spinning group will perform at dusk.

Pet lovers can head out to Dog Fest at the Excelsior Springs Animal Control Center, located about a mile south of the festival grounds on Marietta Street.

There’s also live gospel music on the Good News Stage, at Broadway and Marietta, and kids can start out with fun and games provided by the Excelsior Springs Parks & Recreation Department, then head to the Teen Neon Street Party from 9 to 11 p.m. at the Good News Stage.

Saturday starts out early with a 5K run on Broadway at 8 a.m. (registration begins at 6:30 a.m.) and with a pancake breakfast at Ventana Gourmet Grill starting at 7:30 a.m. The Waterfest Parade really gets things moving at 10 a.m., which is also the start time for the Hickory Golf Tournament at the Excelsior Springs Golf Course, located on the east edge of town south of Missouri 10.

After the parade, several members of the Kansas City Chiefs will sign autographs at the main stage, and the young contestants in the Mr. and Miss Waterfest competition will head over for their pageant in the air-conditioned Slightly Off Broadway Theatre, 114 S. Marietta St.

Immediately after the Mr. and Miss Waterfest coronation, Jim “Mr. Stinky Feet” Cosgrove will perform his family- and kid-friendly music on the Slightly Off Broadway stage starting at 2 p.m., followed by the Excelsior Dance Theatre troupe giving a performance at 3 p.m.

A donut eating contest begins at 1 p.m. (see related story on page 6), or you can head over to the Hall of Waters circle drive for the strongest man competition. Registration starts at noon, and the contest itself begins at 1 p.m.

Round two of the EX Factor, featuring the 18 male semifinalists in the competition, will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. on the Main Stage, while the Good News Stage will feature contemporary Christian music from 3 to 5:30 p.m.

As the sun sinks in the sky on Saturday, the heart of Waterfest continues with even more music, attractions and fun.

The Good News Stage will feature “Bikes, Blues & BBQ,” featuring The Rev. Jimmie Bratcher, starting at 6 p.m. You can register your Harley, Husqvarna or Honda for the bike show starting at 5 p.m. The party at the Good News Stage goes right up until 11 p.m.

Further down the street at the Main Stage, Kansas City band Knock Kneed Sally will start an evening show at 6:30 p.m., followed by Nashville blues rockers The Stacy Mitchhart Band, Waterfest’s headliner, from 8:30 to 11 p.m. You can take a break from the music by heading to Piburn Field, located south of Broadway off Penn Street, for free tethered rides in the RE/MAX hot air balloon, but expect everyone to take a little breather for a professional fireworks display in the sky above downtown at dusk.

But the fun continues on Sunday with a car show at Piburn Field. Registration starts at 9 a.m., and the show opens up to the public at 11 a.m., continuing until the car show awards ceremony begins at 2:30 p.m.

Back at the Main Stage at 2 p.m., you can see what all the EX Factor hubbub has led up to by catching the contest’s finals. The semifinals on Friday and Saturday will narrow the field of contestants down from 18 men and 18 women to just five of each gender. Those 10 people will have one more chance to wow the crowd—and especially the judges—for a chance at a grand prize that includes $2,000 in cash, four hours of time in a professional studio and the opening slot for the live band playing at Broadway Bar & Grill during the BBQ & Fly-In on the River event in August.

The 36 semifinalists’ names were listed in a front page article in The Standard on Tuesday, June 25.

And in addition to the scheduled events throughout the weekend, several ongoing attractions will be available. In addition to the dozens of booths and games for children, there will also be a quilt show at The Montgomery Event Venue, located a few blocks from the festival grounds at 425 S. Thompson Ave. There’s also a beer garden open throughout the duration of the festival, but if you want to really cool off you can slip down to the Good Samaritan Center, 108 S. Thompson Ave., for an exhibit of handmade dollhouses created by local resident Earl Hurshman, plus an opportunity to enter a raffle to win one of the dollhouses.

For more information about Waterfest, visit exspgschamber.com or check out our special Waterfest publication, either in a print version at the festival itself or in a digital format here on The Standard’s Web site.

By Eric Copeland • eric@leaderpress.com

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