This coming Friday will kick off three major events in Barton County. Some are calling it the Bikes, Butterflies & Bombers Weekend.
The Great Bend Airfest takes place Friday through Sunday, Sept. 18-20, at the Great Bend Municipal Airport.
The Hahn Brothers’ Supercross Shootout is Friday and Saturday at the GBMX Park, located in the Expo Complex.
Saturday is also the day that the Kansas Wetlands Education Center will hold its annual Butterfly Festival.
Here’s a quick look at each event:
• Great Bend AirFest is a fly-in, with things to see and do on the ground and in the air. A $5 donation is requested each day at the gate. Hours are 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday; 8 a.m. to midnight on Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 20. Learn more online at http://www.greatbendairfest.com/.
• Third Annual Hahn Brothers’ Supercross Shootout features amateur and professional motocross racers competing for trophies and cash prizes. A weekend pass is $10; kids age 7 and younger get in free. Pit gates open at 6 a.m. both days, and events continue into the evening. Learn more online at http://www.gbmxpark.com/.
• The Butterfly Festival takes place at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, 14 miles northeast of Great Bend on K-156. This free event runs from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Learn more online at http://wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu.
What to look for
AirFest — Each day there will be concessions and historical displays. Attendees will be able to tour aircraft and visit with the crews, and rides may be purchased on warbirds such as a T-33 Lockheed fighter jet, B-25J, Corsair F4U, Japanese Zero recreation, etc. Airport Manager Martin Miller noted that 3-4 minute rides with DWTA Helicopters will be available for $40, making them the bargain of the day for anyone hoping to fly. Airplane rides start at less than $100 but can run as high as $2,795 for 50 minutes in a P-51 Gunfighter. Fifi, the world’s only flying B-29 bomber, and several of the other featured planes are part of the Commemorative Air Force (www.commemorativeairforce.org/).
For the fly-in, much of the emphasis will be on World War II history, since Great Bend was a B-29 bomber training base. Each day, a Dwight D. Eisenhower impersonator will be on site, as well as the Ladies for Liberty (ladiesforliberty.com), a singing group dedicated to performing the Andrews Sisters’ style of music in the costumes and hairstyles of the 1940s.
On Friday, the AirFest will welcome area students and teachers.
Saturday is the big day for the festival, starting with a pancake breakfast. There will be World War I and II displays and vehicles thanks to Kevin Lockwood’s Fourth Armored Re-enactors. A 1940s hangar dance at 8:30 p.m. will feature live big band music, with the J. Bennett Band directed by Marc Webster, Great Bend, and Ladies for Liberty. There is no additional charge for the dance.
Veterans Parade (at Airfest) — Lineup is at 6 p.m. Saturday for a Parade of Veterans at 6:30 p.m. Citizens are asked to begin lining up at the entrance of the Great Bend Airport to receive a small American flag to wave.
“It is our hope to line the highway all the way to Fuller Brush,” said Great Bend Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. Recognition of veterans will continue at 7 p.m. with a Prisoner Of War/Missing In Action ceremony and a flyover.
Hahn Brothers — On Friday, practices begins at 9 a.m. Trent Mermis, co-owner of the GBMX Park, said Friday is dedicated to amateur racing, and the first of two Moto events starts at noon. “We feature racers from the age of 5 to 60 and older,” he said.
The track will be changed for Saturday, so at 8 p.m. Friday participants can take part in the Hahn Brothers track walk, meet & greet, and a watermelon crawl where contestants push a watermelon around a mud pit.
On Saturday, practices begin at 11:30 a.m. SX (supercross) qualifying races start at 4 p.m., all building to the big evening of entertainment. Side by Side (off-road utility vehicle) racing is at 7 p.m., then the Dash for Cash at 7:45 p.m. That will be followed by the main events. After the racing, there will be a DJ for a trackside party until midnight.
AMA Pro Motocross racers Tommy and Wil Hahn started motocross racing as amateurs at the Great Bend track. In 2013, Mermis, Craig Amerine and a group of volunteers joined forces with the Great Bend Chamber of commerce, City of Great Bend and local sponsors to put on the first Hahn Brothers’ Supercross Shootout.
Look for the 3rd Annual Hahn Brothers’ Supercross Shootout on Facebook or see video of last year’s Shootout at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA1X9HYuD6U.
Butterfly Festival — Although monarch butterfly numbers have decreased drastically, they seem to be rebounding locally, with many adults, caterpillars and eggs found on milkweed in Cheyenne Bottoms. Kids and adults can make milkweed seed bombs to take home to create habitat for butterflies. They can catch monarch butterflies in nets and tag them for research. They can also try their hand at silk spinning, using actual silk moth cocoons and a process that is thousands of years old.
For kids there will be crafts, games and temporary tattoos.
Weather permitting, an exhibit bee hive will be on display in the insect zoo in addition to giant walking stick insects, hissing and peppered cockroaches and butterflies, caterpillars and chrysalises. Door prizes will be presented just before noon, along with free milkweed plants and refreshments.
Another butterfly festival, Monarch Madness, will be going on at the same time (9 a.m. to noon) at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge Environmental Education Classroom at 1313A NE 140th Ave., or 7 miles north of the Refuge Headquarters.