Archive for Wednesday, October 11, 2000

This is Kansas?

Kansas Sampler Festival breaks ‘boring’ myth

October 11, 2000

If you didn't go to the Kansas Sampler Festival in Ottawa this weekend, make plans to go next time.

You'll have to wait another year, but take advantage of the festival being so close to home for the past decade, the festival has been held in western Kansas and will be in Ottawa for one more year.

The concept of the festival is simply to promote tourism in Kansas. More than 150 Kansas communities brought what makes them interesting whether it was history, scenery, good places to eat and shop or something even more unique, like the story of the double-decker carousel being restored in Edwards County and set it all up in booths inside tents in Forest Park.

Sound boring? It wasn't. I wish I was able to go both days, because four hours on Sunday wasn't enough (and that four hours was spent with a 2-year-old who was having just as much fun as I was).

The revelation that a 20-minute or hour-long drive can provide a vacation within a day or a weekend comes from a stubborn Missourian who still can't believe I live in the one state I hoped I would never live in. By design, I can count the number of times I have traveled west of this area on 10 fingers (and most of those times were work related). My family doesn't even drive across Kansas to get to Colorado we go through Nebraska.

The Kansas Sampler Festival changed that in less than an afternoon a sure sign the festival works for the communities who participate year after year

Because of the friendly faces, tons of brochures and booths that made you want to know where they came from, I can't wait to spend a day in Council Grove, or drive north to Nebraska on U.S. Highway 75, allowing time for stops along the way. I even squirreled away information about some interesting places in western Kansas.

I also learned some new things about Baldwin City, which filled five spaces in the Northeast Kansas tent. Peach Madl, who brought one of the mounted bears from The Lodge to help catch the attention of festival-goers, said the Baldwin City booth was attracting a lot of traffic. I know, I had to wait 10 minutes to get to that end of the tent. I imagine the Maple Leaf Festival will be a first-time experience for some, because they learned about it at the Kansas Sampler Festival.

But you don't have to be oblivious to Kansas, like I was, to enjoy the sampler festival. For those who already travel in the state, a different route or a short detour could take you to a place you've never been.

The "samples" that each community gave to those attending the festival will work in many ways giving some new places to visit and, in turn, giving business to the communities.

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