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June Jaunt huge success
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Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes is promoting the weekly Summer Street Stroll Farmers Market which takes place Thursday evenings, Thank You Thursdays where retailers stay open late every third Thursday of the month along with free outdoor movies, as well as weekly City Band Concerts. Hayes said the movie nights will each have a different theme. This week will be western with the showing the John Wayne film “McLintock.” July 18 will have a rock-and-roll theme, Aug. 15 will feature a classic or musical film, and Sept. 12 will be sports or a true story. Due to licensing requirements, Hayes said she cannot announce the name of the movie until the week it will be shown.

Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes could hardly contain herself when she addressed the Great Bend City Council Monday night about the recent June Jaunt.
“What a great success,” she said.
There were visitors from Houston, Texas, Myrtle Beach, S.C., and California, as well as Hutchinson and Wichita. “But this year’s focus was the locals and the attendance was great.”
The K-96 June Jaunt offered arts, entertainment, cuisine and culture along the 176-mile long stretch of the highway from Tribune to Ellinwood. Communities along the route include Tribune, Leoti, Scott City, Dighton, Ness City, Rush Center, Great Bend and Ellinwood, all of which have committed to hold the event for five years.
The idea of the multi-town promotion is to draw people to western Kansas to showcase what they have to offer.
“The City of Great Bend, businesses, organizations and individuals have all stepped up and produced an amazing line up,” she said. “It was wonderful for Great Bend to Collaborate and promote all the activities for the weekend which appealed to many different types of people. Instead of competing with the other events going on in the community it just pulled more people out to explore Great Bend.”
While working as a group with the other towns, Hayes said she also wanted to attract more area residents. “I wanted to bring back that community feel.”
“Overall Great Bend was extremely happy with the turnout and activities of the weekend,” Hayes said. The representatives from the communities involved met last Thursday to review and make next steps for the June Jaunt.

June Jaunt highlights
• Kansas Speedweek Cruise Night: Over 75 Vintage and Race cars joined the lineup. It was reported that some locals even had signs out to comment on the vehicles as they passed. SRCA and Vintage Wheels Club, looks forward to partnering with the June Jaunt again next year for a cruise night and car show.
• Free Movie in the Square: Around 350 participants who stayed for the showing of the “Wizard of Oz.”Many came prepared with blankets, pillows, snacks. There was free popcorn and lemonade provided. 
• Great Bend Fire Department MDA Run Because You Can: Highest number of runners and walkers ever with at total of 78 participants.
• NBC- Hap Dumont Baseball Tournament had 30 teams: One Great Bend Team even won their division: The Great Bend Bobcats took first place with the 10-and-under bracket, The Barton Bandits book second palace in the 11-and-under division. There were only three local teams in this tournament; the others came from Wichita, Pratt, Hutchinson, Dodge City, Manhattan, Hays, Salina, Holcomb, McPherson, Anthony and Larned.
• Imagination Playground: was introduced and was a hit. Will continue to be used for tournaments and shared with community events.
• Birdhouse Scavenger Hunt: The CVB reported 10 times more people participated than last year.
• Barton County Historical Society: Over 75 people went out to view the exhibits and ride the little train. Visitors were from Texas, South Carolina, Colorado, California, Missouri, Oklahoma and Nebraska, as well as across Kansas and the Great Bend area. 
• Retail store events had more participants than last year or were pleased with their turnout. All stated they are willing to be part of the third June Jaunt.  Retailers that did not have events in their stores were pleased as well. They felt that the extra exposure was good for their stores, and also they see the value in the community having a festival such as June Jaunt. Many of the south end stores saw extra visitors, the north side of the Square Stores would like to see something happen on that side of the Square.
 • Kansas Wetlands Education Center – Cheyenne Bottoms: 30-40 people and six families came out for June Jaunt and KWEC is definitely sure they want to participate again next year.
• GBRC Tennis Tournament: Had an okay turnout, wasn’t what expected, but participants had a good time they ran games until lunchtime.
• Summer Street Stroll: Had around 40 vendors, all were pleased with the turnout. Big stage and children’s stages were hits. Entertainers had a great time.
• Community Beer Garden hosted by Young Professionals: YP’s were very happy with the turnout.
• First-annual Business Olympics: LOTS of fun for both participants and spectators. Competition was not what it appeared; it brought lots of people to the square for the afternoon and also evening events.
• Jumbo Yard Games were a hit. People loved the activities and traveled to each to participate. Have had many out of town calls in regards to how to do these games and make them work for their community.
• Community barbecue: Great turnout – Central Kansas United Way made $2,250. The barbecue competition had no entries and the kites wouldn’t fly because there was no wind.
• Rhonda Klug Volleyball Tournament: 17 teams participated, excellent turnout they made around $5,000 for the American Cancer Society

The future
“Not everyone had successes,” Hayes said. Scott City had a big swim meet that took away around 1,000 people from the surrounding communities including Leoti.
However, Ellinwood was extremely pleased.
Next year, Bike across Kansas will likely ride through the communities from Tribune to Rush Center on the same weekend. This might help them.
Nonetheless, years four and five will need to be re-evaluated, she said. Several suggestions were made to make it work for all communities involved.
After the five-year commitment is up, Hayes said Great Bend and Ellinwood may look east along K-96 to find partners if the western communities don’t want to participate.
The third-annual jaunt is set for the first weekend in June for 2014.