Great Bend celebrated its centennial in 1972 and in 2022 we will celebrate its 150th anniversary. The Great Bend Tribune published a history after the first 100 years and now we’re looking specifically at the last 50 years, asking readers what they remember as the biggest events or lasting memories of the last five decades.
So far, the flood of 1981 has been high on the list, along with the flood control project that followed. Others have mentioned Streetscape and revitalizing downtown, the development of the Great Bend Events Center and the Sports Complex.
Annual traditions such as the Barton County Fair and the Trail of Lights decorations at Christmas time come to mind.
There were things we took for granted years ago, like a drive-in movie theater and several grocery stores and retail stores that were all handy to anyone who lived in town. Looking back, it’s interesting to see that while some of our favorite things have come and gone, others have stayed the same. There have even been some exciting improvements over the years.
Even today, our readers have mentioned how much they enjoy one relatively new event, Final Fridays on Forest. In case you haven’t experienced that yet, this event occurs on the last Friday of each month from April to November. The 2000 block of Forest Avenue – that’s the block west of the courthouse where the Great Bend Tribune is located – is transformed into the Great Bend Alive Plaza and the street closes to vehicular traffic at 1 p.m. The Great Bend Alive crew sets up tables and chairs, and vendors also arrive so the public can enjoy free outdoor entertainment from 5-9 p.m. It’s happening again this Friday evening and the Tribune staff will be in front of our business handing out free, flavored frozen ice sticks.
Fifty years from now, when Great Bend celebrates its bicentennial, some people who attend these events today may have fond memories of them. We always hope what we do today makes things a little better, for now and for the future.