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Tuesday
September 22nd, 2020

2012 light park block partyPeople line up to enjoy some of the fun at the 2012 block party in Light Park that year. This year, the Liberal Youth Hangout will be hosting another block party event Saturday, Oct. 3.  Courtesy photoELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times

 

Those looking for a fun time in Liberal will need only wait a couple weeks for just that opportunity thanks to the Liberal Youth Hangout group. 

The Liberal Youth Hangout is doing a block party Saturday, Oct. 3 and everything will take place at Mahuron Park. The day will start with a paintball tournament at 9 a.m. and then an archery tag tournament at 10 a.m. From 3 to 6 p.m. there will be horse rides, motorcycle rides, inflatables, hoverball, StickIt and more for everyone to participate in, and there will also be cotton candy and other treats. Then at 6 p.m. will be music with award-winning musician Jake Hamilton and then the day will end with black light archery tag starting at 8 p.m. Pre-registration can be done at www.youthhangout.net, and people can also call coordinator Cory Barnett at 620-624-4201. 

“One of the reasons we're doing the block party is to bring awareness to the paintball crew. We purchased hoverball to help promote the archery tag, and we purchased the archery tag to promote the paintball field,” Barnett said. “Last year, we were at 29 different events in nine different communities in two different states. We want to encourage people to come to Liberal and bring their business here, specifically paintball and activities like that. We created the paintball course to be a self-sustaining ongoing fundraiser, if you will, so we can generate funds and then use those funds to do other positive things with community youth – youth need not only positive activities, but also positive role models, and with the Liberal Youth Hangout, we can provide both. With the block party, it's going to be a very positive outdoor activity and I know with COVID-19 still being pretty prevalent, we're going to have precautions on hand to disinfect the masks after each use in order to keep them clean.”

Barnett said the block party will be a very full day for all involved. 

“Along with the tournaments we'll also have the outdoor music going on near the end of the night, which will be great, and so will the horse rides and motorcycle rides,” Barnett said. “We'll also have the Liberal Fire Department on hand and they'll have an activity for the kids, which is great since October is Fire Prevention Awareness Month. We'll also have other booths there, and we encourage businesses to reserve a booth, we want to support businesses in town and show them off and show off what they do for everyone, and I've been reaching out to some groups so they can consider reserving a booth. The creators of Archery Tag are driving more than 1,000 miles to be at this event, which is very humbling since in the grand scheme of things I'm just a little guy. We'll have a lot of things for people to do that day and along with what we'll be doing, we're trusting people to know what to do to keep themselves safe and healthy. The last block party the Liberal Youth Hangout did was in 2016 was at Southgate Mall and saw 1,157 registered guests, and we had a ton of sponsors and support for that, and we were actually able to feed everyone for free because of that support, and we also gave out prizes, which we also plan on doing again this year. The one the group did in 2012 at Light Park saw an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people and we were super busy that day with everyone. I started planning this about a year ago and COVID-19 really slowed some things down, so we had to take some time to make sure we could have things in place to a point where we could have this and also keep everyone safe. This is a great opportunity to give local kids something positive and something fun to do, and it's going to be a full day for everyone.”

Overall, Barnett said, he is both excited yet slightly in suspense of how this year’s event will go. 

“This year will definitely depend on people's perception of things. With the event in 2016, we had a ton of sponsors for prizes and stuff like that, which helped us track who was coming from in town and who was coming from out of town, and that helped us as far as the information we gathered for our sponsors so they had an idea of how everything ended up and how many people were there,” Barnett said. “If COVID-19 was out of the picture, I'd estimate we'd see about 2,000 people give or take, but with COVID-19 in the picture, I'd be happy if we see about 1,000 people or so there, we'll just have to see how everything turns out. We might see a lower number because people are still not yet quite comfortable being out and about and in big crowds, or we could see higher numbers because people want to shake off that cabin fever feeling. So COVID-19 will definitely have an effect on the numbers, but I'm not sure what exactly those effects will be. What's exciting about this year is what all has had to happen as far as putting everything together and seeing the support we're getting. Even going way back to the original paintball team project, the City of Liberal and Seward County have been a great help and I thank them, they've been very supportive and have provided a lot of guidance. Like I said, we'll be disinfecting the masks after every game, and we'll also have hand sanitizer available for people to use. And a good thing is we'll be at a park, so there will be plenty of space for people to social distance and everything, but they'll have to 'police' themselves as far as all of that goes since we can't be everywhere at once to monitor all of that – people know what they're comfortable with and know their comfort levels, so there will have to be some personal responsibility in play.”

No matter what though, Barnett said he hopes everyone who attends has a great time and offered encouragement for community turnout.

“If anyone has a business or organization that wants to be part of this year's event, we'll be more than happy to have you, just give me a call at 620-624-4201 or send me an e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..” Barnett said. “It's a great community event, and this community's really good about helping out when needed. We still have a few things we're finalizing, but everything should be fully ready to go in the very near future, so we're excited. We are looking for more activities as well as prizes and t-shirts to give away, and we'd love for more organizations to join us in providing positive activities for the youth in Southwest Kansas while promoting local businesses and entities.”

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