Kansas 105

October 6, 2011

'Home on the Range' is a history of Kansas music

A concert Saturday that caps off the Kansas 150 Festival — being billed as the state’s biggest birthday bash ever — will feature dozens of performers from across the state. “Kansas: Home on the Range” is a tribute to the history, tradition, diversity and essence of Kansans, organizers say.

Martha Slater Farrell, the show’s producer, said it will be a “multimedia pageant” with video and narration — and diverse groups with performances that include African-American spirituals and vaquero roping.

Performers include Western musicians Diamond W Wranglers, Judy Coder and Fred Hargrove, as well as the Wichita Community Children’s Choir and Wichita Asian Association Dance Team.

Also performing will be the Sesquicentennial Symphony, assembled for this event, Farrell said.

“The concert is going to be a look at Kansas’ history through song, dance, poetry and storytelling,” said Angela Cato, marketing director for the city of Wichita’s Arts and Cultural Services division.

The show will be a stream of performances estimated to last about 90 minutes, she said. “One will flow into the other.”

The musical celebration is based on a performance at Hutchinson’s Historic Fox Theatre last spring. It’s the creation of members from the Kansas chapter of the Western Music Association. Several of the people involved with the program’s planning have rich backgrounds in Kansas history and deep ties to colloquial culture.

“The show literally takes in talent from everywhere,” Cato said. “That’s appropriate because this isn’t just a Wichita celebration. This is a true statewide endeavor. It’s a celebration of Kansas and the sum of who we are as a state. Folks from Overland Park, Medicine Lodge, Topeka, Dodge City and elsewhere will be performing. The talent truly touches all areas.”

Cato said a key element will be the showcasing of a rich history. It will take audiences on a tour through Kansas’ past, covering the colorful events and populations that have shaped the area.

“The name ‘Kansas’ is itself of Native American origin,” she said. “This performance pays tribute to our roots.”

This concert will pay homage in part by featuring dancers and drummers from the Mid-America All-Indian Center.

The day-long festivities, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Wichita, also will feature a “Kansas Sunflower Parade” along Main Street that will travel Douglas in front of Century II. An open-air fair of Kansas-made foods, arts and crafts will take place along the west side of the performing arts and convention center. The afternoon concert will cap the day. (See a story in today’s A section to read more about parking and logistics for the day’s events.)

“This is happening because of the determined spirits of a lot of people,” Cato said. “It’s the strength of the citizens themselves. People didn’t want to see this landmark go by. There have been a lot of individual celebrations this year, but one event that can bring people together was important.”

The Home on the Range concert itself, she said, promises to be a grand crescendo.

If you go
What: A finale concert for the Kansas 150 Festival, featuring dozens of performers from across the state
When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.
Where: Century II Convention Hall, 225 W. Douglas
Cost: $5. Tickets available at the door or in advance at 316-219-4849 or www.wichitatix.com. For more information, visit www.ks150.org.

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