It was busy weekend and it was a successful weekend, Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes told the City Council Monday night.
She was referring to what was billed as Bikes, Bombers and Butterflies that involved motorcross racing, monarch butterflies and high-flying vintage warbirds. “What a crazy, awesome, fun weekend.”
First, she talked about the Mad About Monarchs event at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center where participants helped tag monarch butterflies Saturday morning. This drew 358 participants to the center, compared to 150 last year.
Hayes said KWEC officials indicated that being linked to the hectic weekend boosted attendance.
Next, she addressed the Hans Brothers Motorcross Shootout where riders of all ages were on the track racing and jumping on their motorbikes. This took place Friday and Saturday and saw 1,500 spectators pass through the gate.
Then, there was the Great Bend Airfest Friday through Sunday at the Great Bend Municipal Airport. There were over 20 vintage warbirds, displays, tours, simulators, historical re-enactors and so much more.
“It was a living museum,” Hayes said. It was also went over very well.
They had over 350 school children come out Friday just for Kids’ Day. Overall, there were more than 6,000 visitors.
“We filled six parking lots,” Hayes said. In 2012, the year of the last airfest, they filled only three.
The weather was perfect as well, she said.
As part of the show, there was also a parade honoring veterans. Although she had hoped for more participation, she said the event went well and the vets were very appreciative of the support.
This led into the emotionally charged Prisoner of War-Missing in Action Ceremony. “It was pretty touching,” Hayes said.
“We had a regional draw,” airport Manager Martin Miller said. The fest brought in spectators and pilots from a large area, and many said it was one of the best collections of warbirds they’d seen in a long time.
Those attending also enjoyed the aerobatics and fly-overs, Miller said. He had gotten special permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to close the airspace above the airport for the show.