Kansas Wheat Festival is time to celebrate tradition

Kansas Wheat Festival is time to celebrate tradition

Kansas Wheat Festival in Wellington is 116th wheat festival in Sumner County; KWLS Radio Farm and Home Show added three years ago By P.J. GRIEKSPOOR

Nothing surpasses Kansas wheat harvest as an icon of what it means to be a Kansan.

While harvest traditions belong to all of Kansas, Sumner County is the Wheat Capital -- not just of Kansas, but of the United States and, in most years, the world.

To celebrate, the small town of Wellington in the heart of Sumner County, started the Sumner County Jubilee 116 years ago in 1900.

What started as a small town, county-wide festival has now grown into the official Kansas Wheat Festival, embracing the tradition of wheat harvest across state.

COMBINES ON PARADE: Combines join the parade through downtown Wellington as part of the 2015 Kansas Wheat Festival.

Three years ago, Gov. Sam Brownback signed a proclamation of the event, which will be celebrated this year from July 6 to 10 and will once again include the KWLS Radio Farm and Home Show on the 8th and 9th. The Farm and Home show was added when the festival went statewide.

Hours for the Home and Farm Show will be 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. on the 8th and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the 9th. The show will feature vendor booths, a trade show and educational seminars as well as free lunch for show-goers.

Country music, arts and crafts booth and antique tractor displays will also be part of the farm and home show event.

KWLS Radio owner Larry Steckline has helped Wellington promote the festival and this year acted as agent for drawing their biggest country music entertainment event so far.  On Thursday night, July 7, Little Texas will play for a street dance beginning at 9 p.m. in downtown Wellington.

"We've always had country music but mostly just local bands and acts," said Wellington Chamber of Commerce director, Annarose White, who has headed up planning efforts. "Last year, our big draw was Logan Mize, who started his career in Sumner County but has made the country music charts. This year, we were so happy to get a big-name act."

The event as a statewide celebration has grown steadily each year of the last three years and the addition of the Farm and Ranch show has brought in additional trade show vendors, events and visitors, White said.

The Kansas Wheat Festival, as always, will feature a Kanasa Wheat King contest, showcasing the quantity and quality of the Kansas crop, a wheat harvest photo contest, arts and crafts shows, hospital bed races, a donut eating contest, a baby and toddler pageant, a Harvest King and Queen contest, and of course, a parade.

"The parade through downtown Wellington will be on Friday night and features about 100 entries, White said. This year's theme is "From Wheat to Wings" and is open to entrants from anywhere in the state. The downtown art exhibits will feature a variety of entries from professionals to children, with prizes in each category.

The Bakers Bonanza competition will let bakers show off their talents and compete for prizes while adults and kids alike can learn more about the industry as they grind wheat into flour themselves at one of two demonstration size mills.

Admission to all events at the Festival, including the Little Texas concert, is a festival button. Buttons are required for attendees ages 2 and up. During June, buttons sell for $3 each. The price goes up to $5 in July and for the night of the Little Texas concert only, will be $10. The price will go back to $5 for the remainder of the festival.

White said Kansas Wheat Festival planners are already gearing up for the 2017 festival, which will celebrate not only wheat harvest but the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail.

Next year huge, 117th year, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail Festival.

"Next year, we're already planning a home brewing contest and a fishing tournament at Wellington City Lake, which is where the Chisholm Trail marker is," White said.

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