Constitution Week draws big crowds, speeches outgrow venues
GRAND LAKE — Grand Lake’s annual U.S. Constitution Week wrapped up over the weekend and according to event organizers this year’s local celebration of our national governing document was the biggest and best yet held.
“This was probably the best one we have ever had,” Tom Goodfellow, president and founder of Grand Lake U.S. Constitution Week, said. “I think it was definitely the most attended we have ever had.”
Getting an exact count on the number of attendees at Grand Lake’s U.S. Constitution Week events are difficult. All talks and events during the week offer free admission to the general public. Goodfellow noted that multiple events drew standing-room only crowds and that some talks are beginning to outgrow their respective venues.
The Town of Grand Lake operates a traffic counter device on Portal Road through the summer and fall that tracks the number of vehicles entering the community. On Saturday, the day of the keynote talk, barbecue competition, music festival and fireworks display, roughly 6,000 vehicles drove into Grand Lake.
That figure is roughly 200 cars less than the tally Grand Lake saw on Fourth of July this year when approximately 6,200 cars entered town. Town officials noted this past Saturday’s Constitution Week festivities coincided with National Public Lands Day and that some of the cars entering Grand Lake were undoubtedly connected to that event.
Grand Lake’s U.S. Constitution Week, which organizers call “the premier Constitution Week celebration in America,” kicked off Sept 17. Over the six days of the event hundreds, if not thousands, of citizens attended a series of nine separate speeches and ancillary events such as Thursday night’s Constitutional trivia event. This year’s event included the addition of two new events, a barbecue competition featuring the Kansas City Barbecue Society and a music festival in the Grand Lake Town Park.
“I think everybody really liked it,” Goodfellow said. “I think adding the barbecue and music festival created a little more interest and people had fun with it. It was the first year and we have a few bugs to work out. But the intention is to make it a memorable event.”
Goodfellow said the musicians who participated in Saturday’s music festival, held shortly after the keynote address of the week, and members of the Kansas City Barbecue Society have indicated they plan to return for the 2019 Grand Lake U.S. Constitution Week event.
Talks at this year’s Constitution Week included a range of topics from civic virtues, to government speech, to a discussion of the influence ancient Greece had on our Founding Fathers. Keynote speaker, and Pulitzer Prize winning historian, David Garrow delved into the ways in which the U.S. Supreme Court has transformed over the decades since the passing of former Chief Justice Earl Warren.
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