Get ready to head to Wamego.
The 25th annual Kansas Sampler Festival is scheduled for May 3-4 at Wamego City Park.
The purpose of the festival is to showcase Kansas through a celebration of food, music, Kansas history and a mix of rural culture and small-town life. Every two years, the annual festival travels to another destination in Kansas.
“It is in a beautiful city park setting with historic buildings as the backdrop,” said Marci Penner, executive director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, which serves as the umbrella organization that helps host the event. The first eight years of the festival, the event was held at the Penner farm near Inman but then was taken on the road to help showcase Kansas for more people. Host cities are picked from applications. The festival has been held in Pratt, Ottawa, Newton, Independence, Garden City, Leavenworth, Concordia and Liberal.
To date, Wamego is the smallest community the festival has been held in, Penner said.
This year’s festival includes 270 exhibitors of animals, crafts, places to see and things to do, musicians, artists, dancers, Kansas geography and a large mobile aquarium that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism uses to help introduce Kansans to the outdoors.
One of the more unique exhibits will be a replica of the plane that Topeka’s Albin Longren flew on Sept. 2, 1911 – the first Kansas-made plane to fly over Kansas soil.
One tent will include work from some of the state’s best photographers. Another tent will feature Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area, based in Lawrence but covering 29 counties in eastern Kansas and 12 in Missouri, telling the stories of both Kansas and Missouri.
One big draw at every festival is the food, Penner said. “I am enamored with the food booths.”
A sampling of Kansas foods includes potato sausage burgers, fruit kabobs, Highland Beef rib steak sandwiches, bangers and mash, mint tatties, bierocks, schnitzel sandwiches, apple dumplings, hand-rolled egg rolls, buffalo hot dogs, ham balls on a stick and homemade pies and ice cream.
Basically, the Kansas Sampler Festival, Penner said, “is a living brochure of what there is to see and do in Kansas.”