Residents of Huntsdale are determined to hold the first Lewis and Clark River Festival next summer whether or not they receive a grant from the Missouri Department of Conservation.
The town hopes to draw 1,500 to 2,000 visitors for the two-day festival next June 5-6. Interpretive signs, exhibits, nature walks and boat tours are planned for the event that seeks to educate festival-goers about the Missouri River and Lewis and Clark’s voyage, said Huntsdale mayor, Debby Lancaster.
“We want people to see the river and see what’s down here,” Lancaster said.
The Department of Conservation has a pool of $250,000, which it plans to divvy out to applicants across the state who are planning events for the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark’s voyage. Grants will be awarded in amounts no larger than $15,000, said Nathaniel Albers, a planner with the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission.
However, two competing applications for the grant money were submitted to the Department of Conservation on Friday.
Huntsdale’s Town Council helped to create one grant that seeks to build a gazebo in the middle of town containing information about Lewis and Clark and the natural resources in the area. An additional amount would go towards portable toilets, music, security equipment, tent rentals, signs, marketing and advertising, according to the grant application submitted by the town.
Lancaster said she was surprised to learn late last week that a second grant application was being prepared by the owners of Katfish Katys — a campsite, boat launch and bait shop located between the Katy Trail and the Missouri River.
The property, owned by Linda Lenau and Robert Brown, was annexed by the town of Huntsdale in an October town council vote that tripled the size of the town.
Lenau said they applied for the grant because the application prepared by the town of Huntsdale could not allocate money to improve their property where many of the festival activities will take place.
“The grants are kind of integrated,” Lenau said.
Brown and Lenau plan to use the funds to accommodate the 47-member crew of the Corps of Discovery Expedition, which requires straw, firewood, portable toilets and portable showers. The couple would also use the money to expand the number of people who can access the river from their property by enlarging the boat launch parking lot, creating a recreational vehicle waste disposal system at the camp site and adding five picnic tables overlooking the river, Lenau said.
Ana Lopez, who helped to prepare the town’s application, said she hoped the Department of Conservation would see the difference between the planned use of funds for the two grant applications. She noted that the grant application from the city contained a sign up sheet showing that town residents are willing to donate their own time and resources to make the festival happen.
“Regardless of whether we get the grant, the festival will go on,” Lopez said. “How intricate and how special it is, is really going to depend on if we get the grant,” she said.
The Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission brought the grant to the attention of Huntsdale residents and helped the town of Huntsdale put together its application, Albers said.
The grant will be awarded to applicants who best demonstrate that the money will be used to celebrate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition by connecting people with the natural resources of the state, said Syd Hime, an environmental education coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Two groups from one town often submit two applications for grants of this nature, Hime said. However, if there are many strong applications from across the state, then granting funds to two organizations from the same town may be seen as unfair and is not likely to happen, she said.