Much as the wheat grows closer to the sky each day, the Kansas Wheat Festival grows closer to taking place; festival officials are working hard to make sure this year's event is golden.
"There's definitely going to be some significant changes to this year's Wheat Festival..." said Shelley Hansel-Williams, Executive Director at the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce. One big event is moving to a new location, another is being complete transformed.
Picnic in the Park, the popular Wednesday event will not be in Melody Bowl this year. Instead, it's going to be in the bigger, Sellers Park on July 10 to kickoff the fest.
"The Heat play that night at Sellers, instead of having the picnic on one end of town, and the game on the other we thought why not capitalize on our new baseball team...and hopefully bring one big party atmosphere to that whole area of Sellers Park," Hansel-Williams said. One of the picnic events that has become a tradition is also being tweaked for 2013.
"Instead of just the lip-sync contest, we've decided to open it up to more of a talent show or variety show," Hansel-Williams said. "The show itself will be bigger just by adding those options."
Folks around this area are no stranger to wheat fields, and over the past couple wheat festivals, the Ag and Energy Luncheon/Expo has acknowledged that. That event is being revamped by Larry Steckline, owner of KWLS Radio.
"Larry Steckline was looking for a venue to start up his Ag Day event that he used to do across the state...and we were looking for someone to take on the Ag Expo," Hansel-Williams said. The event will be held at the Memorial Auditorium on Friday, July 12, filling downtown with tractors, and other farming equipment, along with ag experts and politicians.
"It's kind of like having a festival inside of a festival..." Hansel-Williams added.
Attendance for the festival could potentially be up across the board, with the two aforementioned changes, along with the National Depression Glass Museum having a convention during the Saturday and Sunday of the festival. Hansel-Williams said the population of Wellington could increase by the thousands over the course of the five days.
"I really think we have the potential to have a huge festival this year," she said.
There are still plenty of sponsorship and volunteer opportunities available for the Kansas Wheat Festival this year anyone interested in either is encouraged to contact the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce, 620-326-7466.
Look for wheat fest buttons to go on sale earlier than they ever have in the past, they are still only two dollars and will be available later this month.
This will be the second year for the event to carry the word "Kansas" in front of it, but it has been going on for 113 years in Sumner County. It is the hope of Hansel-Williams that the County can come together to make the festival even bigger and better in the years to come.
Page 2 of 2 - "This is a festival that happens in Wellington, Kansas; the County is the Wheat Capital of the World," she said. "We [the entire county] need to work together as a team...ultimately that's my dream is getting everybody on board."