In Kansas, almost everything is celebrated or commemorated – so summer in the state lends itself to some entertaining gatherings.
One of the biggest events in the Midwest is Wichita’s Riverfest, held May 30-June 7 with food, concerts, a parade, the Eagle’s Medallion Hunt and more food.
A button, costing $5 for adults and $3 for ages 6 to 12, will get you into all the events.
Maybe you are in the mood to experience the Old West.
Try a night at the Pretty Prairie Rodeo July 16-19, 40 miles northwest of Wichita. The rodeo, sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, has evolved into Kansas’ largest night rodeo with post-rodeo dances for fans.
The American Indian Festival
Celebrate the culture of American Indians through crafts, music, dance, food and fine arts July 12-13 at Century II, 225 W. Douglas. Daily admission is $3-$5.
Smoky Hill River Festival
Maybe you are looking for a quick getaway. Try the Smoky Hill River Festival June 12-15 in Salina’s Oakdale Park. More intimate than Wichita’s River Festival, it features music, puppeteers, fine arts, crafts and food from crab cakes to roasted corn, homemade ice cream and fresh-baked peach cobbler.
The festival is a place to hear groups on the verge of making it big. One year, it featured the Dixie Chicks. This year, one of the bands will be Wichita’s Mudbugs Cajun & Zydeco Band.
A button to get into the festival costs $10 at the gate. Children 11 and younger get in free.
Wilson Czech Festival
To celebrate some of the state’s ethnic roots, attend the Czech After Harvest Festival in Wilson July 24-26. There will be plenty of kolaches, parade entries and serious dancing that weekend in Wilson, the Czech capital of Kansas, about 45 miles west of Salina.
This year marks the 151st anniversary of William Quantrill’s raid on Lawrence, in which pro-slavery raiders killed 200 unarmed men and boys and set the town on fire.
The Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St. in Lawrence, is hosting history-related events on Aug. 16, starting with an 8 a.m. Quantrill’s Raid Bus Tour. Cost is $20. Advance registration required.
At 8:30 and 11:15 a.m. is the Quantrill’s Raid Walking Tour; $10 in advance, $15 day of the event. The day ends with a free concert of Civil War-era music, and at 5 p.m., a local re-enactor will read the names of victims.
In the beginning, the town of Humboldt said: Let there be a parade.
And so it was and ever shall be known as Biblesta.
For more than half a century, the Biblesta Parade has a been tradition in the southeastern Kansas town that is about a 2 1/2-hour drive east of Wichita.
While it is not a summer event – Biblesta is Oct. 4 – it is one of the more unusual festivals in Kansas. Townspeople dress as their favorite Bible characters for the parade. Floats include “Jonah and the Whale,” a motorized 40-foot whale with a man riding in its mouth. The parade starts at 1:30 p.m.
Some of the other more unusual festivals in Kansas this summer include:
Yellow Brick Road Festival , May 24, Sedan, featuring a Wizard of Oz Costume contest, chalk art contest, a 10 a.m. parade, art show and live music.
National Byplane Fly-In , June 5-8, Junction City.
Amelia Earhart Festival , July 18-19, Atchinson. Includes food, music, a carnival, presentations by Earhart researchers, fireworks and aerobatics performances.
Yoder Heritage Days , Aug. 23, Yoder. The festival includes covered-wagon rides, buggy races and a parade in this Amish community about 40 miles northwest of Wichita.
Big Brutus Polka Fest , 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at Big Brutus, a huge coal mining shovel in West Mineral in far southeast Kansas.