The Midwest Herofest, premiering for the first time in conjunction with the Fifth Annual Firefighter’s Local 103 Memorial Ride, got off to a running start around 8 a.m. Saturday with the Midwest Hero Dash held at Liberty Park and with perfect, but hot, summer weather.
The run brought in 90 troops from the Sedalia headquarters of the National Guard’s 35th Combat Aviation Brigade, plus 70 civilians.
“Well I think it’s going to be a beautiful day and a perfect opportunity to recognize the National Guard,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Javier Acosta.
He added he thought it was great Sedalia was coming together to support those that serve.
Herofest was defined by Sedalia Fire Department Capt. Donnie Sattler, and memorial ride coordinator, as “an event to honor those that put their life on the line to save another,” including law enforcement, career and volunteer firefighters, active military and veterans, National Guard and EMS ground and air personnel.
Sattler and his wife, Stefanie Aziere-Sattler, worked together with John Stark organizing this year’s inaugural Herofest event.
Each event coordinator and vendor was able to select the charity of their choice to contribute proceeds to, with a portion of the proceeds going back to Herofest.
Proceeds from the Hero Dash will help the Midwest Artists Coalition noted Aziere-Sattler, the Hero Dash coordinator.
“It’s crazy, but it’s good,” she said of the bustling and busy registration table and adjacent park. “And we have awesome weather.”
She said three medals would be awarded to the top male and female runners and to the runners in the youth category.
“And everyone got a T-shirt and a challenge coin,” she added.
Waking up at the crack of dawn and arriving around 6:30 a.m. at the park were employees of Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri. Emily Jarrett, community coordinator, Meghan Beard, fundraising coordinator, and Melissa Boeschen, director of development, had been up the previous evening making 63 homemade breakfast burritos for the hungry public, runners and bikers attending the day’s events.
“I’m very excited about being a part of the day’s festivities,” Jarrett said.
Boeschen and Beard added that the burrito supplies were donated by U.S. Foods. They also had donuts donated from Papa Jake’s Donut Shop, water donated from Open Door Ministries and Gatorade donated by Pepsi Co., in Sedalia. The fruit at the Hero Dash registration table was donated by Webb and Sons Inc. Proceeds from the sale would go back to the local Boys & Girls Clubs, the women said.
Registration for the memorial ride ran from 8 to 10:30 a.m with approximately 268 entries this year. Rod Petersen, of the Warsaw/Lincoln area, was riding his Harley-Davidson again this year and he had brought his bulldog-boxer mix “Stingray” along in a sidecar. She was secured well with a hat that said “Bite-Me,” doggie goggles and ice water.
“I think it’s a great cause,” said Petersen, who has participated each year in the memorial ride. “The responders and the memorial — they should have it. I think that the turnouts that they’ve had over the years, the people have really responded to that. I think it’s great — it gets people together and shows that everybody cares. That’s what it’s all about.”
After the ride pulled out, employees of Central Missouri Electric Cooperative began taking down a 12-by-24-foot American flag flying from their bucket truck. Theresa Dove, accounts payable, and Brenda Sleeper, the office manager, held the flag so it wouldn’t touch the ground as lineman John Randall helped lower it. John Rooks of JAM Marketing had been using the bucket to film the bikers as they left the park.
The Flag belongs to Central Missouri Electric Cooperative.
“We use the flag for the annual ride and also for the Honor Flight,” Sleeper added.
After the ride left, activities moved downtown and included the Herofest Barbecue Contest on the east lawn of the Pettis County Courthouse, with proceeds going toward autism.
Andy Abney and Frank Fillicetti, also known as “Lollipop Frank,” both of Sedalia, had fired up their grill made from a 500-gallon fuel tank around 9 a.m. Abney said Fillicetti was making lollipop chicken legs. The men said they were also fixing ribs, chicken and hamburgers.
“Dr. Pepper ribs, lollipop chicken and the perfect burger,” Fillicetti said.
Abney said they have entered other contests before, including the recent McCarthy Toyota barbecue contest, where he’d won second place with pork steak. On Saturday the men were busy smoking their special country style ribs covered with a homemade rub.
Kasie Davis and her friend and photographer Jessica Buesing had a table sat up for Stepping Stone Autism Support Group.
Davis said they were trying to make people aware of the group who is for anyone involved with autism — teachers, case coordinators, parents or caregivers. Davis has a daughter with severe autism.
Buesing, a special education teacher, was taking photos during Herofest to raise funds for the group.
“We’re just trying to get the word out,” Davis said.
Other downtown activities and events marking the first Midwest Herofest were the Sedalia Kiwanis International Inc. who hosted a whole hog roast and car seat safety check on the lawn of the Municipal Building, the Whiteman Air Force Base military working dog demonstration on the Courthouse lawn and the band “Random Access” from the Warrensburg/Lee’s Summit area. Some of the other events were sponsored by the National Guard, the Sedalia Police Department, the Pettis County Fire Department, and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.