Saturday’s forecast calls for rare warmth and sunshine, and Seth Turner has to work – and he’s thrilled.
“Any bit of decent weather, and we should have a real good showing,” said Turner, El Dorado State Park manager, about Saturday’s open-house events. “People are definitely ready to get out. We want to show them we have a lot to offer.”
Free state park admission is just one of the offerings at similar events at 24 Kansas state parks on Saturday.
“We’re going to have a lot of drawings for things like T-shirts and free cabin stays,” said Alan Stark, a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism state park regional supervisor. “But each of the parks has put together some things to help showcase what they have to offer.”
Stark said events include a disc golf tournament at Crawford State Park, a horseshoe tournament at Elk City State Park, guided horse trail rides at Perry State Park, and a personal watercraft simulator at Cross Timbers State Park.
Turner said the El Dorado park office will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and state park, hunting and fishing permits can be purchased. Courtesy boat inspections will be available until noon, checking for legal, and advised, safety equipment.
“People are anxious to get their boats out, and this will give them a chance to have someone take a look,” Turner said. “Hopefully it will keep some people from having an unpleasant experience with law enforcement when they do get out on to the lake.”
Other events include a 10 a.m. guided nature photography hike from the Walnut River Trailhead and archery instruction at the park’s archery range from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We’ll have volunteers to give instructions and some bows and arrows for both adults and children to use,” Turner said. “It should give beginners, or those who’ve never shot archery much, a chance to get a feel for things and get some good instruction.”
Cheney State Park ranger Brian Haug said they will have drawings for prizes and the Ninnescah Sailing Association will give tours of its facilities that float within the park. Events, including an open house with snacks at the state park office, should run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Cabins will be open for tours at Cheney, El Dorado and most other state parks that have the structures for rent.
“Even though we’ve had the cabins for years,” Stark said, “there always seems to be a lot of curiosity in what they have to offer, what they’re like.”
He also said he’s hoping people don’t just stay long enough to enjoy a few special events. One of the main goals of Saturday’s state park events is to get people to simply spend some time relaxing outdoors.
“People have been cooped up all winter and probably need to get out,” Stark said. “If they want to, they can get out and just do a leisurely drive around the lake, enjoying themselves. They can do it, and they won’t even need a state park permit that one day.”