The 119th Kansas Wheat Festival has a railroad theme, “All Aboard,” appropriate because the premier sponsor, Panhandle Credit Union, was started by a group of railroaders.

“We’re very happy and proud to be the premier sponsor this year,” Danny Crittenden, president/CEO of Panhandle Credit Union, said. “That enters our name on the buttons, our name all over everywhere. This is the first time we’ve ever been the premier sponsor so we’re very excited about it.”

Taking place over five days, the Wheat Festival is the product of a year of planning and organizing by the Wellington Area Chamber of Commerce/Convention Visitors Bureau. Kelly Ford, chamber/CVB executive director, said she is appreciative of all the businesses and organizations sponsoring festival events.

KWF buttons are required to get into events. They can be purchased at the chamber office on the second floor of Memorial Auditorium and all financial institutions.

The Wheat Festival will get underway with the Picnic in the Park, scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. at Sellers Park at 601 E. Harvey. There will be food, entertainment and family fun. People are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs. Cowley College will sponsor a salute to veterans, the main event at Picnic in the Park. 

“It’s a good way to honor our veterans and our active duty military,” Ford said.

“And a good way to kick off the Wheat Festival,” Missy Curry, chamber event coordinator said. “Our veterans are big supporters of the Wheat Festival.”

In addition, the Picnic in the Park will feature such events as D&L “train rides” for children, the Kansas coin dig in which children dig for coins hidden in a pile of sand and the announcement of the 2019 Wheat King. An old event will be revived -- the mayor’s cookie jar contest.

There will also be new events such as the live streaming of the Kansas Cosmosphere presentation, “It’s Not Rocket Science -- Oh Wait, Maybe It Is” at 10 a.m. July 13 at the Raymond Frye Complex, 320 N. Jefferson. At the same time, the Corn Hole Tournament will be going on at Sumner Community Hospital, 1323 N. A St. Proceeds will benefit Wellington youth football and cheerleading organizations.

Cowley College will bring in a gaming truck with 25 big screen TVs on which games can be played. Called the Royal Game Theater and presented by Brandon VanZandt, it will be available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Antler’s Lot. 

“We brought him in for a few hours during fall festival (last October) and the kids loved him,” Ford said.

A perennial small town Kansas festival favorite, Ottaway Carnival, will be up and running on July 10, 11, 12 and 13.

The KWF traditionally marks the end of harvest season.

“We call it the Wheat Festival not only because this is the Wheat Capital of the world, but to celebrate the end of wheat harvest and party,” Ford said.