Each week we’ll take a step back into the history of Great Bend through the eyes of reporters past. We’ll reacquaint you with what went into creating the Great Bend of today, and do our best to update you on what “the rest of the story” turned out to be
This week, as we prepare to celebrate the 242nd anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, we thought it would be okay to step away from politics for a little bit, and dwell on the fun of summers past.
This week in 1978, according to OnThisDay.com, and several other websites, the band Kansas was UNICEF’s choice for its ambassadors of goodwill. According to the Kansas Biography on the blog site PopRockBands.com, “Kansas became a major headlining act and sold out the largest venues available to rock bands at the time, including New York’s Madison Square Garden. The band documented this era in 1978 with ‘Two for the Show’, a double live album of recordings from various performances from its 1977 and 1978 tours. The band gained a solid reputation for faithful live reproduction of their studio recordings. In 1978, the band was named UNICEF Deputy Ambassadors of Goodwill as well.”
According to UNICEF’s website, “UNICEF Ambassadors are leaders in the entertainment industry, representing the fields of film, television, music, sports and beyond. They demonstrate leadership in their professions and serve as positive role models through their work.”
Well, we didn’t need further convincing that Kansas was a darned good band. Today, according to the band’s Wikipedia page, “In 2018 the group decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Point of Know Return by playing that album in its entirety at the shows on a tour, set to begin in September.”
In Great Bend, fireworks went on sale this week. The Great Bend Tribune and McDonald’s were sponsors of the fourth annual Mayor’s Cup Races to be held at Veteran’s Lake the afternoon of July 4, with several area companies donating trophies to winners of the boat race. A fireworks display was planned at Veterans Park that night. Over the past few years, city fireworks displays have been held either at Veterans Park, or at the Great Bend Expo Complex. Last year, there was no Independence Day display, but a larger display was held at Party in the Park. This year, Great Bend’s city display is back, and will be held at the Great Bend Expo Complex on July 3 at 9:30 p.m.
At the Village Cinema, a movie playing there was destined to become a classic. “Grease,” starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John was being held over for a third week. It went on to win an Oscar for Best Music. Travolta and Newton-John won Best Actor and Best Actress in the category for musical and comedy, Barry Gibb won an Oscar for Best Original Song for the title song, “Grease,” and John Farrar also won and Oscar for Best Original Song for the finale song “You’re the One that I want.”
The movie also went on to become part of millions of American’s VCR tape and DVD disk collections, and, well, girls-night-out wouldn’t be the same without the soundtrack to that movie.
After Harvest activities
Neighboring Ellinwood was gearing up for its annual After Harvest Festival, and this year, a 50-person cast of locals would present the hit Broadway musical “Brigadoon” on the stage of the Wolf Park Bandshell. It was also the year that a new event, the Black Powder Shoot, was planned. According to the precede in the June 28 Tribune, a number of local hobbyists who built reconstructions of weapons like the Kentucky Long Rifle were sponsoring the event.
150 contestants were also expected to compete in the Fourth Annual Kansas State Wristwrestling Championships to be held at the Ellinwood High School Gymnasium. Winners would receive expense paid trips to the World Wristwrestling Championships in Petaluma, Calif., for themselves and one other person, thanks to sponsorship by the Budweiser Distributors of Kansas.
The Ellinwood After Harvest Festival is still going strong, and is always held on the third weekend of July, starting on Thursday, and ending on Sunday. Saturday morning, the Ellinwood Rotary Club sponsors the After Harvest Festival Parade.
In 1978, the Tribune interviewed Great Bend Recreation Director Carl Soden about how the summer recreation program in the city had changed over the past 10 years. Gone were the kite flying contests and the jacks and marbles tournaments. In were tennis, swimming, and slow-pitch softball.
Of the old games, “Kids don’t play those things any more,” Soden said. “Things have gone from real simple to real organized.”
“Soden said the only activities that have survived through the years have been swimming and tennis. There has been an upsurge in physical activity within the past 15 years, he added.
“Once you couldn’t get enough people to play volleyball,” Sodden said. “But now you can’t accommodate everyone who wants to play.”
About 16 ball games were played each day, Monday through Friday, Sodden said. That was also the year that crafts began to be offered as part of the summer recreation program.
Some kids belonged to the Great Bend Track Club, and competed in Junior Olympic track meets in Kansas and neighboring states. Other kids simply enjoyed unorganized activities and all the fun summer could afford them.