You know the old saying about not really appreciating something until you lose it. That saying applies to the Grande Levée.
The period celebration returned, albeit in a downscaled version, to the Vandalia Statehouse grounds this past weekend, and it was, for the most part, very well received.
Friday night’s attendance lagged behind that of past years, and, on Saturday, the crowd began to fade by mid-afternoon. That, we believe, was largely due to the high heat and humidity.
On the upside, there was a solid crowd through the earlier part of the day, and everyone seemed to be having fun.
The lack of state support for the celebration did not hamper the quantity or quality of artisans and crafts people who participated in the event.
Those individuals truly make this event, by showing us and explaining what life was like for Vandalians during the period we hosted the state capitol and by inviting us to actively learn about the crafts they presented.
Numerous local individuals also made the Grande Levée successful, by helping to schedule activities and participants, and by hosting the food and refreshment stands that are a vital part of the event.
This year’s Grande Levée was somewhat reshaped after the state no longer could offer funding for it.
The most-obvious difference from previous Grande Levées was that Sunday was dropped from the schedule. We don’t see that as a big loss, based on how the crowds on Sunday, Father’s Day, were significantly smaller than those on Saturday.
Without a doubt, organizers of this year’s Grande Levée will be assessing this year’s celebration and looking toward the future.
As they do so, we’d like to offer a couple of thoughts.
In this space last week, we talked about how much there was to do last weekend in Fayette County. While that meant there was a lot of variety, looking back, it also meant that there were conflicts that prevented people from enjoying all of the activities.
We heard talk on the Statehouse grounds this week that it might be a good idea, for example, not to hold the Grande Levée on the same weekend as the National Road Festival.
The idea behind the National Road Festival is to offer activities all along the road on the same day. While good in premise, that can also hurt the individual celebrations.
In addition to that conflict, the Grande Levée also falls on Father’s Day weekend, when families are traveling to celebrate with their fathers. It also runs the same weekend as Ramsey Daze.
We were able to make it to the celebrations in Vandalia, Brownstown and Ramsey, but could not spend a lot of time in each community. We imagine others were faced with that same dilemma.
Spreading out these activities is worth considering, particularly when you consider the number of other weekends during the summer when there’s nothing going on.