The primary focus of the event is to help the public plan day trips around the state. The North Central tent that normally has 22 exhibitors has swelled this year to more than 60.
Every part of the state is represented from the Flint Hills to Hiawatha in the northeast to Liberal and Goodland in western Kansas to Columbus and Harper County in the southern part of the state.
Kansas musicians and historic performers showcase themselves for hire, food vendors either promote a restaurant or serve a food product made in Kansas or an ethnic recipe. Kansas wineries and one of the microbreweries serve small samples.
In addition, exhibitors in the Kansas Mercantile tent will sell everything from books by Kansas authors to mustard, salsa, jellies, candles, pork, art and more, all made in Kansas.
The biggest Kansas-made products will include a Cobalt boat from Neodesha and fifth-wheel rigs from Smith Center and Chanute.
Pamela Young from Haven is bringing her alpacas to entice people to come see more of the friendly animals at her farm. The Abeldt Family Sheep Farm of Hope will feature sheep shearing. Others will show how to spin wool. Mike Cargill of Great Bend’s Kansas Raptor Center returns with his popular bird show.
The Kansas Explorers Club tent will instruct people on the basics of exploring the state and will be the place to vote for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Architecture.
Marci Penner will ask Kansas questions on the Stump.
Attractions outside the festival grounds will also vie for attention as the Nazareth Motherhouse and Brownstone Hall are open for tours.
The Cloud County Historical Museum, the National Orphan Train Complex, and the famed Brown Grand Theatre are among local features that will also be open.
The festival is a project of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation but the main organizing was done by festival co-chairs Susie Haver and Barbara Henry of the Cloud County Tourism office.
WenDee LaPlant, foundation assistant director said, “The park will be chock full of Kansas. Barns, churches, art, scenic drives, specialty shops, local cafes, events, are all promoted here. It’s a guarantee that no one will leave this park without being amazed at all that Kansas has to offer.”
Festival organizers ask food vendors to buy all their festival menu items from a Kansas source, meat locker, or from a locally owned store.
For instance, vendors are asked to use Grannie’s Mustard (Hillsboro), Art’s and Mary’s Potato Chips (Cheney), and to buy bottled water from a Kansas bottler.
Typically hot dogs are not allowed at the festival but they will be this year because they come from 100 percent organic beef grown by Nancy Vogelsberg-Bush from Home City.
She will be serving up her Bossie’s Best franks-on-a-stick so ask her about her family farm that has used organic farming methods since 1878—and ask where you can buy her beef year-round.
The festival also loves to support local restaurants and this year, Jude’s from Jamestown will have a booth. The idea is to give exhibitor-goers a taste of Jude’s food so you’ll want to go to her restaurant. She’ll be serving her famous cheese steak sandwiches, cinnamon rolls and chop salad.
The Concordia City Park is located at 11th and Washington. Festival admission is $5 for adults; $3 for children 7-14. For more information call 785-243-4303 or go to kansassamplerfestival.com.