Party in the Park drew a crowd to Veterans Memorial Park in Great Bend on Saturday.
Morning events included the Obstacle Mud Run, Oozefest Mud Volleyball, Eagle Country Medallion Hunt, #GreatBendRocks rock painting, Wet/Dry Parade, Kiwanis Canoe/Kayak Race and lunch with vendors. The Mega Kite display was going part of the day but was hindered by low winds.
Partying was still going strong into the afternoon with the Optimist Kids Fun Zone, car show and pickle eating contest.
Saturday evening, the gates were scheduled to open at 6 for a concert with Alex Moyers band, followed by the Mountain Deer Revival. After a fireworks show at 10, the Dirty River Boys band was scheduled to perform.
The morning Wet/Dry Parade started on McKinley Street, but most of the crowd was waiting toward the end of the parade on 17th Street. Starting at the railroad tracks, the “Dry Parade” officially became the “Wet Parade.” There was a turnoff for entries such as horseback riders who chose not to be part of the huge water fight to come, but when the horses were a no-show all of the entries braved a soaking from the crowd, armed with water balloons and squirt guns.
Madison Gaddis, 10, was loading up with an armful of water balloons from a cooler. When asked how many she had, her mom answered, “Not enough!”
Barb Esfeld from the Kiwanis Club was also preparing for the water fight that was minutes away. “When the Oxford House comes through, we’ve got to soak them — and Sunflower and Rosewood,” she said. The last entries in the parade were two cement mixers and a Great Bend Fire Department vehicle, all loaded with water and ready to soak the crowd and fill the street with water.
Parade entries also featured water toys such as an inflated shark, and the winning entry was the Rosewood Aktion Club float, with participants sitting in a balloon “bubble bath” and shower. Euphoria Dance Team won second place.
Over in Veterans Memorial Park, children were painting rocks that would be hidden for others to find, although one boy was sure he wanted to keep his creation.
There were only two entries in the kayak and canoe races, prompting BJ Hamlin to joke, “there’s a good chance I’m going to come in third.” He actually won the race in his new kayak. Although Bill Zimmer came in second, he was first in the “canoe” category and they both won trophies.
Esfeld said they were expecting more entries but one kayak club that was going to come had a scheduling conflict. To generate more interest next year, she said, organizers are considering an “Anything That Floats” race on the lake.
Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes explained the rules of the afternoon pickle eating contest. "You can only use your hands to feed your partner," she said for the team competition. Montara Gaddis and her stepdad Rhett Johnson won the team competition, feeding each other a large jar of pickles. Individual competitions for youths and adults followed.