Blog | Winfield to be 2016-2017 Festival Host

Winfield to be 2016-2017 Festival Host

The Kansas Sampler Foundation announced that Winfield will be the host for the 2016-2017 Kansas Sampler Festival. The event is designed to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas.

El Dorado was the other finalist.


The host selection committee interviewed both potential hosts on September 22 and visited their proposed festival sites. Foundation director Marci Penner said, "We were so impressed with both festival committees and sites. The Winfield team has had more experience with the festival and showed exceptional support from the city and area partners. It's exciting to see the enthusiasm for hosting this event and we are pleased that El Dorado intends to reapply in the next round."


Both cities went through a grueling 9-month process including an orientation meeting, a preliminary application, and a final application concluding with the site visit and interview.


With support from the City of Winfield, the host organization will be the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Chamber CEO and Director of Winfield Convention and Tourism Sarah Werner will be the local festival director. The event will be held in Island Park, the site of chautauquas from 1887 to 1913. Werner said, "We are thrilled to be chosen as the 2016-2017 host of the Kansas Sampler Festival. We look forward to the opportunity to showcase the state of Kansas and welcome visitors to Winfield!"


The festival started as an open house for Mil and Marci Penner's first Kansas guidebook in 1990.

Several places in the guidebook were invited to set up booths at the Penner Farm near Inman. The public response was so positive that the event was given a name, the Kansas Sampler Festival, and became an annual Kansas gathering. Eight thousand people attended in 1997, the final year the Kansas showcase was held on the farm.  


Since then it has moved around the state every two years with stops in Pratt, Ottawa, Independence, Newton, Garden City, Concordia, Leavenworth, and Liberal. Wamego will be in charge of the festival for a second year in 2015 when the festival takes place on May 2 and 3 in Wamego's City Park.


Each year, approximately 150 communities display under large festival tents and around the grounds in order to help the public plan Kansas day trips and learn about what the state has to offer.  Kansas entertainers, historic performers, cultural heritage demonstrations, products, food, art, photographers, and books are also featured. Attendance has ranged from 5,000-11,700.  


The statewide showcase is the only one of its kind in the United States and is always held the first full weekend of May.    


The festival is a project of the nonprofit Kansas Sampler Foundation whose mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture. Penner said, "One way to sustain Kansas culture is to educate Kansans about their own state. The festival is a celebration of all that Kansas is."


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