The 28th and final Kansas Sampler Festival will take place in Winfield’s Island Park on May 6 and 7. The festival, designed to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas, will end its successful run as the state’s largest outdoor travel show.
Started on the Penner Farm near Inman in 1990 as a book signing party for Milferd Penner and Marci Penner’s first Kansas Weekend Guide, the event led to the formation of the non-profit Kansas Sampler Foundation and its most visible project, the Kansas Sampler Festival.
Tourism exhibitors, musicians, entrepreneurs, cultural heritage demonstrators, historic performers, and food vendors will represent more than 130 Kansas communities in Winfield this year. The purpose of the Kansas Sampler Festival is to grow the exploring audience for Kansas towns.
Local festival director Sarah Werner said, “Where else can you see a live reindeer and a blacksmith demonstration, listen to music on three stages and in an intimate coffeehouse bistro setting, and plan day trips to every region of the state? You’ll also find children’s activities, lovable Pack goats and two mammoth donkeys, some farm animals, a disc golf demonstration, quilting demonstrations, antique tractors, and much more. You can go shopping for Kansas products in three tents and take your pick from 20 Kansas food vendors. If you want to get to know Kansas better, this is the place for you.”
“Island Park is a beautiful place for this Kansas celebration,” said WenDee Rowe LaPlant, Kansas Sampler Foundation festival liaison. “Once again, Winfield Chamber and city staff, plus 400 volunteers, are doing a great job preparing for a historic weekend.”
Foundation director Marci Penner said, “The festival started with a book-signing party and will end with one. We’ll debut the new Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers at the festival in the Kansas Explorers Club tent. The book will make it easy to plan your next Kansas road trip.”
In 2018, the Kansas Sampler Foundation will start a new event called the Big Kansas Road Trip. The public will be encouraged to explore three designated counties on the same weekend (May 3-6, 2018). Those showcase counties will be announced at this year’s Kansas Sampler Festival and information will be available in the Kansas Explorers Club tent.
It’s recommended that the public park at the Winfield Fairgrounds at 1105 W. 9th and ride the frequent shuttles to Island Park. Hours are Saturday, May 6 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 7-12. No pets allowed on the grounds. For more information, go to kansassamplerfestival.com.
Larry Hatteberg will emcee the opening ceremonies on Saturday, May 6 at 9 a.m.