Archive for Thursday, February 11, 2010

Leavenworth ready for Sampler Festival

Historic Performers pose during the 2007 Kansas Sampler Festival in Garden City.

Historic Performers pose during the 2007 Kansas Sampler Festival in Garden City.

February 11, 2010

As the 2010 Kansas Sampler Festival approaches, host city Leavenworth is ready to go.

“We’re well on track. We could host the festival tomorrow if we had to,” said Bob Topping, president of the 2010 and 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival Steering Committee.

At Monday’s Leavenworth County Commission meeting, Topping gave a presentation about the progress of the 2010 festival, which will be Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2, at Ray Miller Park on Fourth Street in Leavenworth.

The city will also play host to the 2011 festival, but for now, focus is on the premiere year, as plans for vendors, entertainment, food and infrastructure fall into place.

Topping reported that so far, the steering committee has received 250 registrants for exhibition booths. He said this number already exceeded what previous festivals had brought in.

Throughout the planning process, Topping said it was the steering committee’s goal to make the festival special by generating new ideas that were unique to Leavenworth County. Some of those ideas include an author’s tent, an artist’s tent, a Leavenworth County tent, a beer and wine garden and tasting, four full-time stages with entertainment and wireless Internet access at the festival grounds.

Because the purpose of the Sampler Festival is to inform potential travelers about what there is to see, do, taste and enjoy in Kansas, several other Kansas counties and regions, in addition to the host county, will also have a tent displaying their area’s attractions.

Even though booth exhibitors have been pouring in, Topping said food vendors have been “slow to sign up.” So far, the food vendors include Becky’s Bierocks, Big Dog BBQ, Blackbelt BBQ, Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch and Pachta Pork. There will also be novelties such as shaved ice lemonade, kettle corn, ice cream and popcorn.

Making all these attractions happen, Topping said sponsorships had also been trickling in. The steering committee has $20,000 in sponsorships.

“Local businesses are really stepping up,” he said. “The budget is very sound.”

While there have been no large surprise expenses, Topping said the increased vendor participation had allowed the festival to stay on budget.

One surprise, however, came from Kansas Speedway when it decided to move its spring race to the same weekend as the festival.

“This means lodging is spiking its rates,” he said.

But even with that, Topping said he was sure the surrounding area still had plenty of hotels at reasonable rates available.

In addition to the race, there are several other local events that those attending the festival might also be interested in attending, Topping said. Those include Lansing’s annual Lansing DAZE event, and the Carroll Mansion will play host to the annual herb market Saturday morning.

“These will be great events for the vendors and exhibitors,” he said.

Topping also reported that the festival had about 25 percent of its needed volunteers.

“Our goal is 400, and we’re in the 150 to 200 range right now,” he said. “We’re a little bit behind, but we’re visiting several civic organizations (in the coming weeks).”

Commissioner Clyde Graeber asked Topping if there was going to be enough parking near Ray Miller Park to accommodate not only the vendors, but the festival visitors.

Topping said parking was looking good. He said 350 spaces had been offered by local businesses such as Danny Zeck Ford, Lincoln, Mercury Inc. and Walmart. The Veterans Affairs medical center across the street has donated another 350 spaces, as well. Topping said tractors and wagons were in line to shuttle people to the park, but he was still looking at bus options as other forms of shuttle.

Topping said the festival packet, given to each host-city as a guide of what’s needed and what to expect, suggested 500 parking spaces.

“I’ve got 700 so far,” he said.

The last few months will be used to tie up loose ends and refine festival plans, Topping said.

“I think we’ll have more people (at the festival than usual) just because of the proximity to Kansas City,” Graeber said. “Unless it rains that weekend, I think you’re going to be surprised.”

For more Sampler Festival information or to sign up, go online to kansassampler.org/festival.

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