Despite 96 degree weather on Saturday and cold temperatures and wind on Sunday, more than five thousand people attended the 23rd annual Kansas Sampler Festival in Liberal.
One hundred thirty communities from around the state were represented in the nearly 200 different exhibits that were spread throughout Liberal's Light Park.
Festival-goers made stick horses in the Pottawatomie County tent, watched sheep shearing in the Dickinson County tent, petted kangaroos at Nickerson's Hedrick's Exotic Animal Farm booth, and rode a Mammoth Donkey from Paradise Ranch Adventures from Council Grove.
Colorful balloons imprinted with"“Fly away to Northeast Kansas" were used as an entrance and decorations in a tent filled with exhibitors from Northeast Kansas. Travel exhibits showcasing unique rocks were found in a regional tent with the theme, "North Central Rocks." Live entertainment was a constant in the Northwest Kansas tent along with Kansas games, popcorn, and information.
People tasted peppernuts from Newton and beef from Scott City. They bought children's books from Tim Raglin of Independence and metal artwork from Hugoton's Roger Lynch. Kansas questions were delivered from a Stump by Marci Penner. Lindsborg's Swedish dancers, Native American Spirit Dancer Dennis Rogers, and songs about Kansas graced the stages. In first person rhetoric, historic performers shared Kansas history. Bierocks from St. Francis, pancakes from Liberal, buffalo burgers from Wamego, and homemade ice cream from Harper were some of the festival fare.
Muscotah promoted their baseball museum in a water tower tank and Manhattan promoted their new Flint Hills Discovery Center. Hutchinson's Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Iola's Fred Funston Home, and Kansas Scenic Byways were just a few of the hundreds of day trips ideas that were shared.
A project of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation, the festival purpose is to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, and buy in Kansas.
Foundation director Marci Penner said, "The purpose of educating another part of the state about Kansas was accomplished in festive fashion. Liberal was an incredible host and we all look forward to returning next year."
Local festival organizer Sally Fuller commented, "Our goal was to provide a great backdrop for this Kansas celebration. I am so proud of my city and the many volunteers that made that happen."
The festival, the only one of its kind in the nation, will be held in Liberal again in 2013 on May 4-5. It moves around the state every two years.