On Saturday I experienced something I have never experienced before.
I attended the Kansas Sampler Festival, which is an event of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation.
This year, the festival was held in Concordia, and it was a blast.
I made the trek to Concordia, which is less than 30 minutes south of the Nebraska-Kansas border, with Cort Anderson, of Belle Plaine. Cort is a close friend, incredible photographer and Web guru.
Cort and I arrived at the festival during the noon hour.
Neither of us was incredibly hungry, so we began taking it all in rather than feeding our faces.
The grounds of the Concordia City Park were broken up into different areas of tents, each representing regions of Kansas. Within each tent were booths proclaiming the riches of the towns and communities of the given regions.
The first tent we went into was the Dickinson County booth. Though hand sanitizer was readily available, I saw no one acting like a pig, so I firmly believe Cort and I are safe from the H1N1 influenza.
After that, we went from tent to tent and learned about the incredible wealth of resources and knowledge Kansas contains.
And the food wasn’t too bad either.
I bought a soup mix even I think I can handle preparing, and Cort purchases some dip mixes, and we both enjoyed roasted ears of corn and German-sausage stuffed bierocks.
Also, there was a tent for adults that showcased the beers and wines produced in our state. I must say I was impressed. I have tried a few of them before, but I didn’t realize how tasty some of the products are.
Since I’m still not quite OK with Anheuser-Busch selling to the Belgian InBev due to the fact A-B is no longer an American company, I might start to “drink local,” as a T-shirt I purchased said.
Really, “local” is the focus of the festival and the Sampler Foundation. Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant are the leaders of the Foundation, and they push the idea that rural Kansas has as much to offer as anywhere else, so they encourage people to explore their backyards and shop locally because you don’t have to leave the state to find incredible stories or great fun.
You can get all you need locally, and I love that because I love where I grew up, which is in rural Kansas.
It was a great time, and as Cort pointed out, the Foundation does things right. That festival could have been horrible if it had been done only halfway, but that’s not how Marci and WenDee operate.
They did everything right and it resulted in an incredible time. Thank you for a good time, ladies, and thanks for giving me such a warm welcome when I ran into you both even as you were busy with keeping the festival running smoothly.
Of course, one of my favorite parts was at of the booths in one of the tents. I don’t remember which tent we were in, but Cort and I were talking to a gentleman at one of the booths when he asked me if Cort was my dad.
I just smiled and kept talking to the guy. Afterward, I told Cort what had happened. We both laughed because while attending the Kansas State Fair together, someone asked us the same thing, so it has been an on-going joke. Even Cort’s wife, Linda, has got in on the act. Now I call her “mom” just as I call Cort “dad.”
After getting our fill of Kansas fun, “dad” and I decided to leave. As we got in the car, he pointed out how close we were to Nebraska.
No discussion was needed. We got back onto the highway and headed north.
We ended up in Chester, Neb., just over the state line.
“Dad” pulled off on a side road and dug out his camera and a tripod.
Though I knew the answer, I asked if we were going to take a picture.
“Dad” said we were, so we both walked down into the ditch and prepared for a family picture.
He set the tripod up in front of the sign that welcomes everyone to Nebraska. Then he got his camera setting right and the timer ready to go.
Each of us leaned on one of the posts holding the sing up, and as cars drove by oblivious to what we were doing, we took several pictures with the sign and the discarded grill of a John Deere lawn tractor.
Then we headed home, and as we drove, “mom” called and said she could meet us for supper in McPherson.
We enjoyed a delicious meal at La Fiesta. “Mom” and I had the special, and “dad” had a pork meal just to spite H1N1.
Coming away for such an eventful Saturday made something clear to me. I need to take part in more day trips.
This state has so much to offer, even borders with other states to have fun with, so I need to start picking new places to travel to on a regular basis.
I can’t promise how regular these travels will be, but I do vow to start checking out different Kansas locales.
First on my list is the Prairie Nut Hut in Altoona. I love Mountain Oysters.