Cris Collier at the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau views this time of year as a harvest time.
Week after week, in March, April and May, groups hold their state and regional conventions, often choosing Great Bend. Groups as diverse as Kansas Certified Public Accounts, Kiwanis clubs, the League of Kansas Municipalities or the Mid-America Tire Dealers Association come here.
This week, 98 of the state’s 105 counties are represented at the 74th annual Kansas Weed Conference, going on at the Great Bend Convention Center and Highland Hotel. Conference goers are here to learn about new herbicides, applications and equipment, to be recertified as spray applicators and to meet with venders, said Dale Phillips. Along with his job as director of Barton County’s Road and Bridge Department, Phillips is the county weed director.
In their home counties, weed directors determine the extent of infestation of weeds such as musk thistle, which grows to 6 feet tall. A single plant can produce 120,000 seeds that can remain viable for 10 years. Noxious weed control is a state-mandated program that controls and eradicates noxious weeds under the supervision of the state Board of Agriculture. Directors devise methods of eradication on both public and private lands.
Phillips said Barton County is a regular host for the annual conference. "They really like coming to Great Bend," he said.
Speakers are giving presentations on such subjects as chemical technology, pollutant discharge elimination and herbicide-resistant weeds in various settings. On Tuesday, spouses could visit the Kansas Wetlands Education Center for a tour of Cheyenne Bottoms. Today they’ll visit attractions in Wilson, and on Thursday local artist Bob Button will present a wood carving demonstration at the Highland Hotel.
Collier, president of the Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her office maintains contact with over 400 state associations that hold regular conventions. Great Bend has several selling points. "We’re centrally located; we’re affordable, and Great Bend has a reputation of being a nice, safe place."
For those planning a convention over multiple days, the visitors bureau provides a variety of services. For example, GB-CVB staff printed and alphabetized all of the name tags for the Kansas Weed Conference at no charge. The bureau also offers a convention activities planner, which can be found on its website, to help visitors plan educational programs, tours and group activities, catering, lodging, entertainment, transportation, shopping and recreational activities/facilities.