Casey Price wants to show McPherson that residents can find ways to have fun without leaving town.
“I’m born and raised here. I’ve never met a stranger. I can just start talking to people about anything and this is something that comes from here,” Price said, pointing to his heart. “The community needs this.”
Price is organizing a new event, the McPherson Community Unity Festival, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. July 29 at Lakeside Park, 1108 E. Simpson St. The event will feature music, food, a car show, vendors and more.
"It's something that McPherson's never seen before," Price said.
The idea for the festival came to him after he learned that the McPherson Festival of Cultures — previously called the McPherson Scottish Festival and Highland Games — would not be held this year. Price could not shake the thought that a city the size of McPherson needed to have some way for people to come together and have fun.
"I truly love life. I love seeing people smile, having a good time," Price said.
While there is no admission charge for the McPherson Community Unity Festival, attendees and vendors are asked to make a donation to one of four local organizations — the McPherson Animal Shelter, American Legion, USD 418 or the McPherson County Food Bank.
Price intentionally chose those organizations, as they have been instrumental in his life.
"I want the money to go to where it can help out the most," Price said."I've been that kid that got made fun of for not having nicer clothes."
A welder at Aero Transportation Products, Price has a knack for imitating cartoon characters, an infectious grin and sports tattoos, piercings and brightly colored hair.
"I've been judged my whole life by the way I look," Price said.
Price will freely talk about his struggles in life — from being bullied and dropping out of high school, going through divorce, addiction to drugs and surviving multiple severe injuries.
"I told myself, 'dude, you've got to make a better version of yourself,'" Price said.
Having losing a brother and sister to depression and suicide, he sees the value in reaching out to meet and support others in the community. After talking with a few people to get advice on how to start and run a festival, he decided to strike out on his own.
He is making an effort to include activities for all ages in the event.
Activities for the kids will include bounce houses, sports and games like horseshoes and a bean bag toss.
A "Cruz-N Car Show" will let owners display their vehicles for others to admire with no entry fee.
"Come out and let the community meet you and see what you're all about. We're all different, but we're all human," Price said. "Let's support each other and think about the community's unity."
One of the highlights of the festival will be the Fast Food Junkies band, which plays original folk, country, blues and rock and roll music on bluegrass instruments.
Price also plans to have a fire spinner and live spray paint art to entertain attendees.
"People thought I was crazy going in, but I had to have a thousand different ideas to get everyone's attention and interest," Price said.
Along the way, he has garnered the support of several McPherson businesses.
"I've been getting a lot of local people that I know," Price said. "Everybody seems to really like the concept."
For more information about the McPherson Community Unity Festival, find the event on Facebook or call or text 620-755-9302.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at email@example.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.