From Atchison to Ulysses over to St. Francis and back to Baxter Springs, Kansas will celebrate this weekend with the 26th annual Kansas Sampler Festival.
The festival, held Saturday and Sunday in Wamego’s City Park, is all about showcasing the best of Kansas – the sights and sounds, tastes, historic thrills and buys.
“For people who don’t know this state very well, this is one place to learn about every part of the state,” said Marci Penner,director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, a grassroots organization based in Inman whose mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture.
“Some people may think this is a quilt and craft show, but it is really more about what there is to see and do in this state,” Penner said. “You will meet artists, musicians, photographers and entrepreneurs. This is a place to come and be proud about being a Kansan. I promise you when you leave this event, your jaw will drop open. Your mind will be blown by what you learn about this state.”
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More than 150 communities will have exhibits and booths at the festival. Last year, more than 11,500 people attended.
Every two years, the annual festival travels to another destination in Kansas. This is Wamego’s second year as host city.
“Wamego went over the top last year in planning the successful event, and (people there) are eager to welcome everyone again to Wamego, the smallest community to ever host the state’s largest traveling festival,” WenDee LaPlant, festival overseer at the Kansas Sampler Foundation, said in a prepared statement released by the foundation.
The festival includes exhibitors of animals, crafts, places to see and things to do, musicians, artists, dancers and Kansas geography.
The festival is high energy and informative. Exhibits include a tent from Dickinson County where visitors can learn about the Kansas Auto Racing Museum in Chapman and see a sheep-shearing demonstration by Hope’s Abeldt Family Sheep Farm. From Nickerson, Hedrick’s Exotic Animal Farm will have an exhibit, and Council Grove’s Paradise Ranch will display pack goats and mammoth donkeys.
Visitors can learn how to build a dry stacked stone fence from the Native Stone Scenic Byway or see American Indian dancer and educator Dennis Rogers from Topeka perform. Living-history interpreters will portray Kansans such as Amelia Earhart, Doc Holliday, a wagon train schoolteacher and a farmer during the Dust Bowl days.
For those with a hunger for something besides history, there will be bierocks, schnitzel sandwiches, bison hotdogs, fruit kabobs, Swedish baked goods, smokehouse salads and Scottish sausage. The festival grounds will have 22 food vendors.
More than 50 Kansas entrepreneurs will be selling foods and arts and crafts ranging from glass-bottle milk to handcrafted metal art.
“Our most common comment from people who attend is that ‘I had no idea Kansas had all this to see and do,’ ” Penner said.
Kansas Sampler Festival
▪ Where: Wamego City Park
▪ When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
▪ Cost: $5 for adults; $3 for ages 7-12
▪ More info: www.kansassamplerfestival.com or 785-456-9776