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June Jaunt meets with success
Third-annual event draws thousands to downtown Great Bend
new deh june jaunt file photo
Officials said the third-annual K-96 June Jaunt the weekend of June 8 was a big success. Pictured on that Saturday are Brandon Suppes, on left, joining friends Trevor DeLong and Connor DeLong in stacking blocks at the band shell in downtown Great Bend. - photo by TRIBUNE FILE PHOTO BY KAREN LA PIERRE

Party in the Park plans progressing

Coming on the heels of the successful June Jaunt, city officials are shoring up plans for the second-annual Party in the Park. This year’s event is set for Aug. 16 at Veterans Memorial Park.
Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina and City Administrator Howard Partington have been putting in several additional offers for another headlining act after the previous became too expensive. They are waiting to hear back.
The report on the event was part of Partington’s update on departmental activities. Other highlights included:

• The first of two City Youth Academies was held last Friday. The second one will be this coming Friday. Many city staff members hosted the young people and showed them behind the scenes looks at the city organization. Great Bend Police officer Jefferson Davis coordinated the event.
• PBA Architects continues to work on the Band Shell Master Plan. The funding for the master plan came from the Thelma Faye Harms Charitable Trust.
• The annual tour of facilities was held last Friday. Mayor Mike Allison and members of the City Council attended, along with other city officials. The tour is part of the budget planning process.

There were some huge expectations going into the third-annual June Jaunt the weekend before last in Great Bend and, despite a few minor hiccups, the celebration of all things local lived up to the billing.
“Over all, it was a huge success,” said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She presented a wrap-up of the festival to the City Council Monday night.
The K-96 June Jaunt offers 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 originally 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.
One of the factors hindering the event was the timing, Hayes said. It fell two weeks after Memorial Day so many folks were back on the road traveling.
There were also fewer garage sale vendors in the north part of the Barton County Courthouse Square than she had hoped for so there was less traffic. The businesses at the north end of the square had requested something take place in the area to lure customers to their shops.
Also, the NexTech Zoo Fest at Brit Spaugh Zoo had its best year ever, drawing 2,000 people. But, that siphoned people from the downtown activities, Hayes said.
And, the free movie downtown was rained out Friday.
But, these setbacks really didn’t overshadow the highlights, Hayes said.
The car show, City Band concert and other activities on Thursday brought in 1,000 people. “This event was absolutely awesome,” She said.
The crowd swelled to 3,000 on Saturday for the vendors, entertainment and other activities. Champion Service again won the Business Olympics and will represent Great Bend in the county-wide competition later in the year.
On Sunday, the community barbecue and sand volleyball tournament met with success and the Great Bend Beautification Committee’s Gardens Galore tour set a participation record.
Hayes said representatives of the June Jaunt communities all met Monday. Most said this year was better, noting that people are finally starting to understand what it is all about.
“Seven of the eight are willing to hang in there,” Hayes said. Ness City is unsure due to a conflict with another community-wide event the same weekend.