Kansas Sampler Festival’s roots
On Saturday and Sunday, May 1 and 2, of this year, the cities of Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor and Tonganoxie have been chosen to host the 2010 Kansas Sampler Festival. This year it will be at the Ray Miller Park in front of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In 2011, it will be here again on May 7 and 8.
Many of us do not quite understand what it is all about but here is a rundown to help. The main purpose of this event is to introduce people to Kansas and what we have in our state. It is to promote tourism and the ability to find the gems we have here. If you have questions like where is the best place to get cinnamon rolls, where is the neatest “carry everything” hardware store? Who makes the best meringue pies, where is the Lincoln statue and where is the mural with Buffalo Bill Cody? Where is the best place to eat? Every city in our state, big or little, has its own wonderful personality and things to do and see.
This started as a festival in one big tent in 1990 on the Penner Farm near Inman. It was such a success that in 1993 the festival became a project of the newly formed Kansas Sampler Foundation. It was decided to take the festival on the road starting in 1998 to expose more people to the festival exhibitors. Towns are chosen after a bid process and do a two-year stint. The first town was Pratt in 1998 and 1999, then Ottawa, Independence, Newton, Garden City, Concordia and now Leavenworth County. Concordia had 8,000 visitors so that is just an example of how it boosts the economy of each city.
This year my family will be in the Artist Tent with three generations of painting and sculpture along with many other great local artists. Other tents include food vendors, wineries and breweries, demonstrators, entertainers, authors, musicians, etc.
Another offshoot of this is the Kansas Explorers Club, which was created to inspire, educate and encourage the exploration and appreciation. It is a group of people who love Kansas and love traveling around the state. It is based on the concept of explorer Tourism and helps communities see themselves in a different way. Our smallest towns as well as the larger ones have a lot to offer.