By William Croyle
FLORENCE - The pageants and parade are back this year, but y'all will have to wait until next year for the rest of the fun.
The Florence Y'all Festival - an annual Labor Day weekend event since 1980 that included food booths, music and fireworks - has been put on hiatus this year as the city prepares for a new and improved festival in 2005.
The all-volunteer committee that organized the event was losing money in recent years and struggling to find volunteers.
The committee voted this summer to turn it over to the city.
"Attendance was getting low and it kind of needed a shot in the arm, so they asked the city for help," said Vanessa Lenear, parks and recreation administrator.
The pageants and parade will go on.
The pageants will be Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 at the Florence Mall and the Florence Government Center, respectively. The parade on Ky. 18 is Sept. 5 at 2 p.m.
Past festivals were four days long and held on Main Street. While the city supplemented the event with police protection and by closing streets, the entire weekend was coordinated and run by volunteers - an undertaking that required too much time and money.
"We know it will be a disappointment to a lot of people, but we thought maybe this is a good time to make changes and make it bigger and better next year," said Mayor Diane Whalen.
Next year's event will be coordinated in conjunction with the city's 175th anniversary. Planning meetings will begin next month.
Whalen said the city will recruit former festival committee members who want to continue to volunteer, then public input will be sought on how long the festival should be, where it should be and what events it will include.
Pageants and parade
Miss Florence (ages 17-21) and Miss Teen Florence (ages 13-16) pageants will be 1 p.m. Saturday at the Florence Mall. Register by Friday.
Little Miss Florence (ages 4-8), Little Mr. Florence (ages 4-12) and Junior Miss Florence (ages 9-12) pageants will be 1 p.m. Sept. 4 at the government center. Register by Sept. 4.
The parade is 2 p.m. Sept. 5. It will run from the government center to Turfway Road. Registration forms available at the government center. Call (859) 371-5491 for information.
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