The Wellington Chamber of Commerce upped its game this year in organizing the 119th Kansas Wheat Festival, chamber executive director Kelly Ford said.
The big draw this year was the headlining concert act, the semi-famous Jason Boland Band. Ford said she knew of a couple from Indiana that paid $300 to see the band last week and came to Wellington to see them for the simple cost of a $4 KWF button.
“This is way beyond Sumner County,” Ford said. “We have to figure out a way to get them to come and hopefully the money will trickle when they stay in our hotels, shop in our stores and eat in our restaurants.”
There are fans who follow the Jason Boland Band from concert to concert and many of them knew and could sing the lyrics to the songs the recording band performed, she said.
“People thanked us,” Ford said. “They know it’s a different ball game, that this was big for Wellington and the Chamber.”
The Thursday night bands, Soul Injection and Annie Up, alone brought a lot of praise from the public, Ford said. Usually, Thursday night is slow, but this year it was a lot busier, she added.
People were saying, “If this is what you have Thursday, what are you bringing in Saturday,” Ford said. “They realized we upped our game and are bringing in powerhouse bands.”
Businesses and partnerships with the city, county, economic development council, the Wellington Rec Commission all the way to the Mayfield grocery helped the chamber and its volunteers put on a successful wheat festival, Ford said.
The chamber has started working with a Wichita company to help market the KWF and it led to publicity on KSN and KAKE TV. Next year, the chamber will pursue more sponsors -- not just from Wellington, but in Wichita and surrounding communities.
“It’s the Kansas Wheat Festival,” she said.
“I think we’re finding our niche with the chamber,” she said.