De Soto Days Festival is the largest on-going event in our community. It began in 1964 by the Jaycees who encouraged all of our community organizations to join in the event. That very first year Whizzo, the clown, of TV fame was the main attraction.
De Soto Days has been held at a number of locations over the year: both sides of 83rd Street, in the old High School football field, Riverfest Park & Miller Memorial Park where it has currently been located for a number of years. A circus or carnival was an integral part of most De Soto Days events as well as a deluge of rain in many years. A Jaycee record book from 1972 listed among it's last minute details a fervent prayer, "Dear God, make it stop raining."
The dates for holding the celebration have changed over the years in an attempt to avoid the rains that were capable of flooding, the horrid heat, or major cold snaps. A Saturday morning parade has almost always begun the festival's all-day celebration. After the Jaycees, the event was organized by the City and then passed onto the City Park Board, for a time, was helped by the De Soto Chamber of Commerce. It's now organized by a volunteer group of citizens. Currently, the Evans Midland Carnival Company has guaranteed their participation over Labor Day weekend. Food vendors, craft booths and live music are just a few of the scheduled events that are typical for this festival.
In true Jaycee spirit, the De Soto Festival's mission was:
To promote the City of De Soto with pride and enthusiasm
To develop a yearly event to enhance the lives of the De Soto residents & members of neighboring communities through events which appeal to a diverse audience
To unite the citizens of De Soto
To celebrate the past & envision the future