That’s what Christina Hayes, Great Bend Community Director had to say about the second annual June Jaunt in Great Bend last weekend.
Last year, most of the events were focused on Saturday. This year, Hayes and the city worked to provide a beefed up experience with three big days of activity which resulted in a hands down win for the city, residents and vendors, she said.
“A big job well done goes out to all of the people and businesses who made the recent June Jaunt a huge success,” said Great Bend City Administrator Howard Partington. His comment was made during his regular update on city activities at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
“This event is really turning into a great regional event,” he said. “I want to thank Christina for stepping forward on the event and providing the guidance and vision to make it better and better each year. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”
On a related note, he said he went to Veterans Memorial Park Sunday. “I could not help but think that this could turn into something like the old days when we had parking problems to worry about around Vets Park on the Fourth of July. Bring on that fun again.”
Hayes addressed each day of the event individually.
The SRCA cruise night saw over 70 cars participate in the cruise of downtown streets, with a large turnout of spectators. It also marked the opening night of the Golden Belt 6 Cinema at the corner of Kansas and Lakin streets. That night, the city also hosted a movie in the park.
“Not only was the theater packed, we had nearly 350 who attended the presentation of The Wizard of Oz,” Hayes said. “It was really neat, because it wasn’t a competition. City and cinema complemented one another, with some attending both.”
The movie was sponsored by Waters True Value and the City of Great Bend. It started at 9:30, with free popcorn, lemonade and tea being given away from 8:30 to 11 p.m. Feedback from the public was positive.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Derek Fredrick, manager of Waters True Value. “We will continue to co-sponsor with the city to present movies on the square the third Thursday of each month through the summer.”
Movie titles will be released at a later date, Hayes said. The next will be shown on June 20, then again on July 18, Aug. 15 and possible Sept. 12. Hayes said each movie will be themed, and the city band expressed interest collaborating with themed music to start off the evenings. The band performs Thursdays through the summer in the band shell at the courthouse square.
On Saturday there were food and craft vendors, live music, inflatables for the kids, musicians and pirate show for entertainment on the Courthouse Square. Everything was free. The Great Bend Fire Department held their 11th Annual Run For MDA Because You Can 5K and 10 K run and 1.8 mile fun walk, recording the highest number of participants ever. All proceeds went to support the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
“It was a big win, especially considering Ellinwood held their Color Run the same weekend,” Hayes said.
The first annual Business Olympics brought lots of traffic downtown Saturday afternoon. This pleased vendors. Last year, attendance sagged at that time, so this was a big win, Hayes said.
The games included an adult tricycle race, balloon toss, three legged races, and other classic games. Fourteen four-person teams from local businesses competed, along with a team made up of Mayor Mike Allison and City Council members and a group from the Kansas Wetlands Education Center.
“It was fun to watch Mayor Allison compete in the adult tricycle race,” Fredrick said.
The team from Champion Pest Control won, and Mayor Mike Allison posed for photos on a giant trike with the team.
Later, the beer garden opened, and lent a relaxed and social atmosphere to the square.
“One of my big goals for the weekend was to get people dancing,” Hayes said. And it happened. Music provided by live musicians brought a group from Fuller Brush out who got the dancing started.
Clear skies and an absence of wind caused the kite flying event at Vets Park field to fizzle, but not before Waters True Value handed out 100 free kites and United Way went running for more hot dogs to serve more than double the number they anticipated that day, Hayes said.
Club One Fitness sponsored a fitness event that saw a good turnout, and 17 teams turned out for a memorial volleyball tournament that raised money for the new Heartland Cancer Center in Great Bend (see accompanying story).
“A big factor in making the weekend a success was all the hard work put in by the City of Great Bend Parks Department,” Fredrick said. “Not only did they get everything mowed and trash picked up, they moved tables and were really a joy to work with. Scott Keillor and his crew did an outstanding job.”
More information will be available when Hayes reports at an upcoming Great Bend City Council meeting about vendor comments and geocaching results.
“I love the support and participation by Great Bend residents,” Hayes said. “That’s what it’s all about. We aimed to provide fun and entertaining events for everyone regardless of age or ability.”
This marked the second year for June Jaunt arts which featured entertainment, cuisine and culture along a 176-mile long stretch of the K-96. Communities along the route include Tribune, Leoti, Scott City, Dighton, Ness City, Rush Center, Great Bend and Ellinwood. Organizers from each community will meet for feedback on June 13.
The towns signed on to hold the event for five years.