On May 6 and 7, Winfield's Island Park will witness the passing of an era when the Kansas Sampler Festival, the largest outdoor travel show in the state, will feature its 28th and final observance.
More than 130 Kansas communities will be represented by tourism exhibitors, musicians, historic performers, entrepreneurs, food vendors and cultural heritage demonstrators as the festival showcases what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy and learn in Kansas. Last year's attendance was 8,600.
The 2017 festival is organized by the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism with chamber director Sarah Werner serving as the local festival director. More than 300 volunteers, city workers and area sponsors make the festival possible.
The primary focus of the festival is to give the public ideas for Kansas day trips. Exhibitors from across the state will set up displays in 12 tents to promote tourism. Entrepreneurs will sell their products in three tents, and another tent will feature Kansas wine and beer producers. There will be four stages for musicians and a fifth for historic performers. Twenty food vendors will be found on the grounds as will a blacksmith demonstration, antique cars, pack goats and mammoth donkeys, and children's activities.
This will be the final Kansas Sampler Festival before the foundation switches to a new format to educate the public about what Kansas has to see and do. The Big Kansas Road Trip will start in 2018, and the showcase counties for the road trip will be announced at the festival.
The festival began in 1990 as a book-signing party for Milferd and Marci Penner's “Kansas Weekend Guide.” Some of the places in the guidebook set up displays. The crowd reaction was so positive that the event was given a name, the Kansas Sampler Festival, and was held on the Penner Farm near Inman for another seven years. It then rotated on a two-year basis to the host communities of Pratt, Ottawa, Independence, Newton, Garden City, Concordia, Leavenworth, Liberal, Wamego, and Winfield.
The new 480-page “Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers” by Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe will debut at the festival and can be purchased in the Kansas Explorers Club tent.
Festival hours are Saturday, May 6, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, May 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 7-12. For more information, go to kansassamplerfestival.com.
Source: Kansas Sampler Festival Foundation