Friday and Saturday served up a feast for the senses at Jack Kilby Square and across Great Bend as June Jaunt returned to Great Bend for its 10th edition. A delectable buffet of vibrant sights, sounds, tastes, smells tastes and hands-on fun greeted all comers, and brought out the joyful kid in attendees of all ages.
It was an ideal way to kick off summer in the Golden Belt, said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes, and she was pleased with turnout to the come-and-go event.
“I think it’s been really great,” Hayes said. “it’s (been) really successful.”
Hayes said the warm, sunny summer weather provided the ideal setting for the summer celebration, and said she felt like attendees were eager for a return to more normal summer activities, events and gatherings, which June Jaunt provided.
Several stage and street performers entertained the gathered crowds Saturday. Bands representing several different musical genres took the stage in the band shell throughout Friday and Saturday, while Matthew the Magician put a sparkle in the eyes of children with his interactive magic show.
One highlight of the afternoon, Hayes said, was street performer Wacky Chad, who wowed the crowd with high-flying pogo, unicycle and skateboard stunts mixed with a heavy dose of humorous antics.
Variety performers Madam Sprinkles, the Great Bend Unicorn and stilt-walker Claire Up There, mingled with the crowd throughout the afternoon, with dazzled youngsters looking up to see the stilt-walking street performer.
Saturday also saw the return of several jumbo yard games, including life-sized billiards and foosball, as well as jumbo versions of family favorites such as checkers, tic tac toe, Jenga, Twister and GBKS Guess Who?, which featured some well-known faces from the City of Great Bend.
The inflatable zone for kids also returned to June Jaunt, while Jack Kilby Square’s splash pad offered a place to cool off from the heat for young visitors.
Hayes felt were both the games and inflatables were extremely successful in their returns to June Jaunt Saturday.
As the bands played, the smell of tasty summer treats both hot and cold filled the air, with attendees having the chance to snack on everything from colorful shaved ice to barbecue, and countless options in between.
Vendors from all over Kansas and beyond also lined Jack Kilby Square, sharing a variety of offerings to June Jaunt visitors.
Jack Kilby Square was not the only locale hopping in Great Bend over the weekend.
As festivities kicked off Friday, long-time Independence, Mo. storyteller Jim Two Crows Wallen visited Brit Spaugh Zoo, spinning tales for youngsters in front of the zoo’s bison exhibit to help the Great Bend Public Library kick off its “Tails and Tales” summer reading program as well as help mark the 200th anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail. For several of his stories, Wallen enlisted the help of some of the gathered kids to play various parts in old Native American stories, including an old Navajo story from which the Wil E. Coyote cartoons draw their inspiration.
The Great Bend Bat Cats welcomed eager crowds to Al Burns Field Friday and Saturday night as they took on the Sunflower Seeds from Cheney, scoring a sweep in a Friday night doubleheader with the visitors.
The city also marked two milestones over the weekend, with city officials issuing proclamations recognizing the 100th anniversary of Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, as well as the 200th anniversary of the historic Santa Fe Trail which helped provide the foundation for many towns along the modern Golden Belt.
Model airplanes took to the skies at Roger Brining Model Airport, while engines roared with cruises down Main Street and drag races at the SRCA Drag Strip.
A tribute to late Barton County Historical Society Director Karen Neuforth was held at the Crest Theater Saturday, as well. More information regarding the tribute to Neuforth can be found in this Wednesday’s Great Bend Tribune.
The celebration will wrap up today with: with: Free fishing at Veterans Lake and Stone Lake; racing at the SRCA Drag Strip; the completion of the Hap Dumont Baseball Tournament at the Great Bend Sports Complex, Veterans Park, and Harris Complex; the celebration of the one year anniversary of the return of the bison exhibit at Brit Spaugh Zoo; and a Eucharistic Procession hosted by Prince of Peace Parish beginning at 3 p.m.