SMITHVILLE — Drawing nearly 2,500 people to downtown Smithville, real estate agent Eric Craig said his Smithville Community Festi-Ville was such a success he hopes to make it an annual event.

“It was a great turnout,” he said. “I think next year we are going to shoot for 5,000 or 6,000 people.”

The June 1 event featured children’s activities, food and drink vendors and a handful of live musical acts from several musical genres on the Ali Kemp stage in Courtyard Park, located off Main Street.

“I think it’s awesome for Smithville. It’s a great atmosphere,” said Sara Carrel, who attended the outing with her family.

The planning process began in October after Craig moved into his new real estate office in the former Justus Drugstore at 106 W. Main St.

Craig said his team typically plans two client appreciation events per year and takes clients to a Kansas City Royals game in the summer. This year, Craig said the team thought it would be worth it to draw their clients to Smithville instead. Doing so, he said, meant the community could be involved and clients could get more VIP treatment.

“A lot of our business is here in Smithville. With the recent improvement of the streetscape, we really wanted to do something yearly that showcases our downtown and basically our community,” the real estate agent said.

While catering to clients, Craig said the community involvement produced sales for vendors.

“All the vendors did really well,” he said.

Having never put on a musical festival before, Craig said it wan an enormous amount of work that couldn’t have been done without support. Emcee Holly Star was a big help, Craig said.

Beside Star’s efforts, he and his team focused on what they wanted and figured it out how to pull it together themselves.

“We met weekly,” Craig said. “There is a lot of expense and liability to it. ... I had to pull a permit for all of downtown for liquor, for beer to be on the streets, all that stuff. We had to have liability insurance policies, we had to form a (limited-liability corporation) and I had weather related insurance as well in case it stormed. ... There was a lot to it, but it was worth it.”

Craig said logistical undertakings of the festival also included scheduling, securing vendors and meeting requests of performers to ensure booking.

“I was in charge of ordering banners, getting vendors to sign up, ... in charge of the kids things and all the internet stuff like our website,” team member Andrea Allen said. “Our most challenging thing was probably getting vendors.”

Allen said the goal is to include more vendors next year.

Excited about next year’s lineup, Craig said the team is already talking with performers for bookings.

“Honestly, we just wanted to help the downtown area of Smithville and revitalize it a little bit,” Allen said. “I know it was really hard on everyone while they were doing the streetscape.”

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