LARNED — There were 29 celebrations that came before, but they will be talking about the weekend’s 30th annual Santa Fe Trail Days celebration for a while to come.
With more than 470 extra people in town for the Larned High School reunion, not only were there plenty of things to do, but plenty of folks to see them.
For Larned Area Chamber Director Alex Filbert and her program coordinator Chelsie Miller, it was a scramble just to make all the events.
“I’m getting a lot of exercise today,” Filbert noted as she sprinted from the parade staging area to the office at 502 Broadway to make the 2 p.m. start time. “It’s been a busy couple of days.”
Saturday’s event roster kept people busy from 8 a.m. with a full breakfast of biscuits and gravy at the J.A. Haas building. Not only was there an all-you-can eat option for the main fare, but there were also jams and jellies and Santa Fe Trail Center commemorative plates to take home.
Eating options continued through the day, especially at the Burger Battle over the extended noon hour. Seth Filbert and his team swept the prize money by winning both the $250 judges’ choice and $250 people’s choice awards for his “O’Queso Burger” entry. In second place was Jason and Kara Rath for their healthy-choice "Mediterranean Turkey Burger" entry and Chance Noble’s team placed third with their “Classic Burger” option.
Next, it was off to the Pawnee County Courthouse for dessert, with a choice of chocolate-dipped ice cream bars and flavored icy pops.
‘There’s No Place Like Home’
On Saturday, there was plenty of LHS orange and black, but also a tinge of Emerald City green for the 30th annual Santa Fe Trail Days parade. Upwards of 60 entries followed co-Grand Marshals Kyle and Tamara Beckwith, who opted for a vintage red pickup instead of a balloon for their trip down Broadway in costume as the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy.
A slew of antique iron that had previously “Dragged the Gut” and appeared at the Santa Fe Trail Auto Club’s car show earlier in the morning filled out the roster that also included the traditional tractorcade and first-responder vehicles. There were trailers packed with LHS graduates; horse riders and Jake Gill’s traveling RV with the band walking out front.
Other traditional elements included Kevin Holt’s narration of the parade; rodeo queens on horseback; and a contingent of Salina Shriners and ATVs.
After the parade, the remainder of the afternoon stretched into the late evening at the Fairgrounds, with a second day of rodeo and concert on the schedule.
As a footnote to the weekend, the State Theatre played to a capacity crowd with its showing of “Top Gun: Maverick” Sunday evening. As the 7 p.m. showtime neared, the line of ticket-seekers stretched down the block and the concession stand volunteers kept busy until after the opening credits started to roll.
Gail Tournear had the fastest duck for Friday’s Duck Race event. All three place-winners were present for the prize announcement, which doubled their money. Tournear took home the top prize of $1,000; second place was the PVCH Auxiliary ($600) and George Elmore placed third ($400).