One thing leads to another and this week I found myself on a trip to Kansas City with Downtown Washington, Inc. I attended the “Get Plugged in Downtown” Missouri Main Street Connection conference as a volunteer photographer for the event, and since taking pictures and promoting the downtown are two things I love to do it seemed to be a good fit. After three days spent with Bridgette Epple and the downtown group, I couldn’t be happier that I went along with them! Photo essays say it best, so here is the trip as seen through my lens.
On day one, we were welcomed very warmly at Hotel Philips in downtown Kansas City by the organizers of the conference. We wasted no time to vote for the photos of our Washington guys for the “Boys on the Block” calendar.
In the evening, we got to tour the 18th and Vine Jazz District in Kansas City, namely the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and the American Jazz Museum. The tour was complete with ice cream sundae and a performance at the famous Blue Room.
Day 2, early morning at the coffee shop down the street. I took a little break from taking photos, to catch up with the blog and the rest of my 14 Facebook pages. We so need a nice coffee shop downtown!
In the afternoon, we took a trip to Liberty, MO. They gave us gift certificates to shop in their adorable downtown, and we did wine tasting in the bus on the way back from the tour. Needless to say, we had fun.
- In Liberty, we stumbled upon this forgotten TeleTubby in an old furniture store which was being renovated.
Also in Liberty, Rock’n’Roll Charlie found me on the street. He came up to me and he told me he dances everywhere. He is 66, does not drink, just dances. Everywhere. He invited me to go see him at the Power and Lights district in Kansas City that night. Have you always danced? I asked him. He said he learned how dodging bullets in Vietnam. We chatted for a while, and I enjoyed a short street performance from him. His photo is on my 100 Strangers collection.
The same day, at 4:45pm we boarded another bus to go to the ShowMe Dowtown Lee’s Summit Bash. We enjoyed a wonderful reception at one of the local restaurants, tour of the downtown and their amazing shops, and a terrific “Cellular Cenes” performance!
“StreetFound Entertainment and Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street present a new unique theatre experience on the streets of Downtown Lee’s Summit called “Cellular Cenes,” where the audience literally will follow the story of two young people and their quirky budding relationship.
Each different scene is set at a different Downtown location, and for this particular show it’s important for the audience members to leave their cell phone on! Curious as to how it will work? Make plans to attend one of the four performances to find out.
“Cellular Cenes,” written by Ben Martin of Lee’s Summit, stars Chloe Gibbs and Ben Johnston. Martin also will direct the show.”
I truly loved the “Cellular Cenes” performance, and so did Bridgette, Andy Unerstall and his daughter Sara. She was one of the volunteers for the conference, and she did an amazing job!
Our Washington group kept growing. Toni and Dennis Cavin, from Toni’s Home Decor, joined us on the trip. Aren’t they cute? 🙂
Bryan Bogue, a Downtown Washington Inc. board member and owner of Elite Survival Systems, joined us on Day 3. We took an “In The Field Educational Tour” to Leavenworth.
It was a little rainy, but the lovely ladies from Leavenworth supplied us with umbrellas right away. We got to tour the Stove Factory Lofts, a striking high-end building composed of 90 luxury apartments with one, two and three bedroom lofts. As the name suggests, the building used to be a stove factory, being renovated and put to a new use. A great project for the old shoe factory in Washington, maybe?
We also did some shopping downtown, and everyone was so welcoming and nice.
What were the chances that we got a free ride on the Carousel at Leavenworth on National Carousel Day? Let me tell you, this carousel was going really fast, and it was a blast! Thank you for the photo, Bryan! 😉
One thing I learned from the conference, was that being part of the Downtown Washington group immediately earned you respect and recognition. We rank really high in the Main Street Communities, thanks to the hard work of Bridgette and the Downtown board. There is so much involved in preserving the historic look of the downtown area and keeping it vibrant and alive, and we are so lucky to have the Downtown Washington Inc. team to nurture, promote and grow our downtown area!
That’s why Bridgette earned us all so many ribbons 😉 She travels around the country and shares her experience with other downtown communities who want to follow our footsteps.
The Washington group, all dressed up and ready for the Evening of Excellence Downtown Revitalization Awards Ceremony at the end of day 3!
I got so many compliments for my polka dot dress from Addi’s, even from the lovely Patrice Frey, the new President and CEO of the National Main Street center and our featured speaker for the evening. Bridgette took our photo 😉
Our own Bryan Bogue was the Master of Ceremony for the grand event, and he did a terrific job!
This lovely lady, Crystal Ficken Narr from Main Street Chillicothe, won a lot of awards at the Evening of Excellence and will be visiting Washington soon. She is a Re-Discover Washington fan, so I loved her right away 😉 (I stole the photo from her facebook page)
As I mentioned above, our Washington group was pretty big… You can see Sal, Kevin and Sara (I introduced them in the previous blog post), volunteers for the conference, as well as Jessica, who was an intern in Downtown Washington last summer. Without the help of the volunteers, the conference would not be possible.
The big surprise for the evening came when I saw the Re-Discover Washington blog was nominated for an award! Bridgette has been keeping it a secret and told me just the day before. I was beyond excited for the recognition!
As you know, I started the blog on a whim, and watching it become such a great community affair for the past year and eight months has been wonderful, amazing and even a little too good to be true. The success of the blog shows that there’s a great interest in keeping our downtown vibrant and prospering, which makes me extremely happy. If we all walked a little more, shopped local, and dined in our small family-owned restaurants, we would be in great shape and wonderful mood. It’s the sense of community that makes you feel like you belong to something bigger and more meaningful.
The Mural Tours in Chillicothe were nominated for the same award, and we both won! I passed the camera over to Bryan to receive my first ever blogging award from Dr. Steven Hoffman! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I couldn’t have done it without you!!! The blog is a community affair, and I’ll keep doing all I can to promote our wonderful downtown!
Our amazing Bridgette was recognized for 13 years of service. She loves her job and it shows in everything she does. Main Street loves Bridgette back.
After the awards ceremony, it was time to find our who were the 12 Boys on The Block who were going to be in the calendar. We acted upon this letter when we took and submitted the photos: “We have an exciting opportunity for Missouri’s Main Street Communities to showcase their “Cool Buildings” and Calendar of Events throughout 2014. MMSC will assemble a 2014 Main Street “Boys on the Block” Calendar, which will be provided to winning communities later this year to sell for profit. All Communities participating will have their events listed on the monthly calendar.
YOUR PART: Take a photo of a “cool” historic building with a male of any age in your community.
If your photo is chosen as a winner, your community will:
Receive 115 “Boys on the Block” Calendars to sell.
Have your Main Street Events & Festivals showcased in the calendar.
Be part of a fun event.”
As Bridgette put it in her presentation, in Washington we work hard and play hard. And thanks to your support, we got the most votes for our photos. Needless to say, we made it in the calendar!
Our Washington boys will be famous 🙂
A big THANK YOU to Bridgette for making me say ‘yes’ for this trip, to Gayla Roten, organizer of the conference for having me as their photographer, and to Downtown Washington Inc. for sponsoring, promoting and loving the Re-Discover Washington blog!!! Now I have a pretty award on my desk to remind me how powerful doing what you feel is right can be!
The next Main Street Connection Conference will be hosted in St. Louis, so I am looking forward to seeing again all the wonderful people from the other downtown communities in Missouri! I definitely had a great time being part of the event!
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.
I have a little favor to ask of you. Share the Re-Discover Washington Blog with a friend and spread the word about our wonderful downtown. I believe we can Pay it Forward and make a difference. Thank you! It’s appreciated more than you know! 🙂