This year’s festival will be in Wamego on May 3 and 4
• Special to the Leader & Times
For 25 years, the state’s largest traveling festival, the Kansas Sampler Festival, has attracted thousands of visitors who are hunting for what there is to see and do in the state.
This year, more than 280 exhibitors from 150 communities will help the public learn about the architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people of Kansas when the gates open in Wamego’s City Park.
The festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 3, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 4.
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 7 to 12.
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 Colby and Elkhart to Atchison.
It’s like a brochure of Kansas brought to life
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. A wine and beer tent will feature four Kansas wineries, a distillery and two microbreweries.
In addition, exhibitors in the Kansas Products tent and the new From the Land of Kansas tent will sell everything from butter, honey, metal, glass and fine art, pottery, salsa, jellies, quilted bags, books, leather goods, fudge and handcrafted furniture, to name a few.
New to the festival this year will be the Kansas Photographers tent featuring 12 top photographers who will showcase their work and give educational programs throughout the weekend.
Other new additions include the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s Mobile Aquarium, a replica of the Home on the Range Cabin, Ghost Tours of Kansas, a primitive camp with living historians complete with ax throwing and a new game made in Kansas called Wicketball.
An unusual addition is a “flying replica of the New Longren, a biplane designed and built in about 1920 by Alvin K. Longren, a native Kansan who was a pilot, designer, barnstormer, inventor and aircraft executive.” The plane was the first folding-wing aircraft purchased by the U.S. Navy. It will be displayed on the east side of the festival.
Some favorites returning are the Paradise Ranch Packgoats and Mammoth donkeys, the Kansas Cattleman Camp and the Abeldt Family Sheep Farm of Hope featuring their popular sheep shearing demonstrations, are just a few of the new and returning exhibitors. A complete list can be found at the festival website.
The Kansas Explorers Club tent will instruct people on the basics of exploring the state and will be the place to buy the 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook. The public can also learn about the current Explorer Research Voyage to research for the new Kansas Guidebook for Explorers. Marci Penner will ask Kansas questions on The Stump where visitors will vie for donated prizes.
The festival is a project of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation but the main organizing is done by a local Wamego team lead by festival director, Julie Roller, Development Associate, Pottawatomie County Economic Development.
WenDee LaPlant, Foundation assistant director said, “The park will be bursting with everything Kansas. Barns, churches, art, scenic drives, specialty shops, attractions, 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.”
The pre-cursor to the Kansas Sampler Festival was a book-signing party in 1990 for Mil and Marci Penner’s book, Kansas Weekend Guide. The event was held on the Penner Farm near Inman with one tent full of exhibitors. The event was such a success it was given the name Kansas Sampler Festival.
FESTIVAL ON FARM: The festival was held for eight years (1990-1997) on the Penner Farm near Inman.
MOVING FESTIVAL: The Kansas Sampler Foundation decided to take the festival on the road to expose more people to the exhibitors and purpose of the festival. Hosts are picked through an application process and host for two years. Hosts have been Pratt (1998-1999); Ottawa (2000-2001); Independence (2002-2003); Newton (2004-2005); Garden City (2006-2007); Concordia (2008-2009) Leavenworth (2010-2011) and Liberal (2012-2013).
For more information:
Contact Julie Roller,
or call 785.456.9776.
Festival website: kansassamplerfestival.com