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Getting your “fix” on K-96
Annual June Jaunt celebrates 10 years in Great Bend
Matthew the Magician
Matthew the Magician, shown in this file photo from the 2012 June Jaunt, will return to Great Bend on Saturday for the 2021 June Jaunt. - TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO

For a decade now, people have been getting their “fix” on K-96. 

This year, after a one-year hiatus, the annual June Jaunt celebration is back in Great Bend, and Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever. This year’s event will run from June 4-6, and will take place in five communities along the Kansas highway - Great Bend, Ness City, Scott City, Leoti and Tribune.

Hayes, who is the regional chairperson for June Jaunt, is excited for this year’s offerings and is looking forward to a return to a more standard event. And this year’s celebration in Great Bend, she said, will feature some returning events along with several new events, have a little something for everyone, taking visitors to all corners of Great Bend and beyond.

“Not only is the lineup fun, but every event has something special,” Hayes said. “We’re going to jump in full force, that’s for sure.”

As events in Great Bend return to more pre-COVID formats, Hayes said she hopes people turn out in force to have a good time.

“Really, we just want people to get out and have fun, and kick off their summer,” she said.

Returning events with new twists

The fire and police chief’s badge hunt will return this year. Explore Great Bend will post clues as to the locations of the badges at 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m. all three days of the event. Participants will have a chance to win a $50 gift card to any Great Bend store.

Another weekend-long event that will have participants traversing the streets of Great Bend is the Bird House Scavenger Hunt. Letters and clues will be placed near decorative bird houses in front of various businesses to spell out a phrase. Participants correctly guessing the phrase will have a chance to win a gift card in this event as well, Hayes said.

Jumbo yard games will also be returning to Jack Kilby Square this year with some new additions. Joining the lineup of 10 jumbo yard games on Saturday will be Great Bend “Guess Who,” where players will have the opportunity to guess some well-known faces in Great Bend. The game will be unveiled in the week leading up to the event as part of the annual Media Challenge, pitting staff of Eagle Radio against staff from the Great Bend Tribune.

Along with the games will also be an inflatable zone for kids, which will feature some new inflatables this year, operated by volunteers from Central Baptist Church in Great Bend.

The annual classic car show and open cruise will also return Friday night, but Hayes noted this year’s car show will have a new touch. This year’s show will feature live music throughout the evening from Jake Gill, who will be performing from 5-8:30 p.m. in Jack Kilby Square.

The beer garden, outdoor food and vendor fair, and free fishing at Veterans Lake and Stone Lake will also make their returns this year.

Santa Fe Trail 200th Anniversary

As a stop along the historic Santa Fe Trail, the trail’s 200th anniversary will be a theme which runs throughout the weekend. Each of the three days will feature events tied to the trail’s 200th anniversary celebration.

The celebration will kick off Friday afternoon as Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo and the Great Bend Public Library partner to kick off the library’s “Tails, Tales and Trails” Summer Reading Program. Storyteller Jim Two Crows Wallen will be at the zoo sharing stories from the Santa Fe Trail, and the zoo will offer a host of family-friendly activities as well as a chance to learn about animals that called the Santa Fe Trail home. The zoo will also be hosting events connected with the trail from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, officials with the City of Great Bend will be on hand to issue an official proclamation commemorating the trail’s 200th anniversary in Barton County.

History will also be celebrated as the Crest Theater memorializes local artist, historian, and late director of the Barton County Historical Society, Karen Neuforth. Her art will be on display at the theatre as friends remember her life and contributions to the community from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

More live entertainment

In addition to Gill, this year’s live entertainment docket will feature both new and returning performers at Jack Kilby Square throughout the day Saturday.

Hayes said this year’s Saturday lineup will rotate between musical acts on stage in the band shell and variety performers on a smaller stage in the center of Jack Kilby Square. This year’s musical acts will cover a variety of styles and genres with performances throughout the day and night Saturday.

Among this year’s performers will be returning performer Matthew the Magician, who Hayes said has been a part of every June Jaunt celebration. He has something new to offer each year, she said, and is happy to have him return. 

Pogo stick performer Wacky Chad is also returning this year. Hayes said he is known for stunts which include being able to pogo over the length of a full-size car.

The business/family Olympics competition, Betty the Butterfly, and fire performers will also be part of this year’s entertainment lineup.

Other happenings

Friday night, the city will show “The Wizard of Oz” at the band shell in Jack Kilby Square with free popcorn provided.

America’s pastime will also play a large part in the weekend celebration. The Great Bend Bat Cats will kick off their home schedule at Al Burns Memorial Field against Cheney Friday and Saturday, and the city will also host a Hap Dumont baseball tournament with more than 40 teams playing at locations throughout the city.

Saturday morning, Yoga Central will host a morning yoga session in Jack Kilby Square from 7:30-9 a.m.

Also Saturday, the Barton County Health Department will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Jack Kilby Square.

Sunday, June 6, the Prince of Peace Catholic Parish will host a walking Eucharistic Procession beginning at St. Patrick Catholic Church at 4100 Broadway Ave. and finishing at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church at 1428 Baker Ave.

For more information and a complete event schedule, visit Explore Great Bend on Facebook or contact Hayes at the City Office, 620-793-4111. For June Jaunt activities in other cities, visited or the K-96 June Jaunt Facebook page.