CONCORDIA. Thousands of Kansans will come to Concordia's city park on May 2 and 3 to celebrate all that is Kansas. Over 130 Kansas communities will help the public learn about the architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people of Kansas at the 20th annual Kansas Sampler Festival.
The primary focus of the event is to help the public plan day trips around the state. Every part of the state is represented from the Flint Hills to Atchison in the northeast to Liberal and Goodland in western Kansas to Fredonia and Harper County in the southern part of the state.
Kansas musicians and historic performers showcase themselves for hire; food vendors either promote a restaurant or serve a food product made in Kansas or an ethnic recipe. Kansas wineries and two of the microbreweries serve small samples.
In addition, exhibitors in the Kansas Mercantile tent will sell everything from books by Kansas authors to wheat products, roasted coffee, mustard, salsa, jellies, lariat rope and barbed wire art, and more, all made in Kansas.
New to the festival this year will be the Reenactment Guild of America with gunfight reenactment performances by Kansas members. The Abeldt Family Sheep Farm of Hope will return with their popular sheep shearing demonstrations.
A new tradition started last year is the Parade of Community Flags that formally open the festival on Saturday morning. Last year over 50 communities designed community flags and carried them on poles during a parade to start off the event. They were later placed on fence posts throughout the park creating an instant festival atmosphere. This year, the festival coordinators are expecting more then 65 to participate in the parade of flags which will be ushered in by music provided by the Cloud Kicks Jazz Band.
The Kansas Explorers Club tent will instruct people on the basics exploring the state and will be the place to vote for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine. Marci Penner will ask Kansas questions on the Stump.
Attractions outside the festival grounds will also vie for attention as the Nazareth Motherhouse and Brownstone Hall are open for tours. The Cloud County Historical Museum, the National Orphan Train Complex, and the famed Brown Grand Theatre are among local features that will also be open.
The festival is a project of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation but the main organizing was done by festival co-chairs
WenDee LaPlant, Foundation assistant director said, "The park will be bursting with everything Kansas. Barns, churches, art, scenic drives, specialty shops, local cafes, events, are all promoted here. It's a guarantee that no one will leave this park without being amazed at all that Kansas has to offer."