• Special to the Daily Leader
ELKHART — A nationally–touring singing family from Nashville and Branson, Mo., an up and coming teen sensation, professional historical and hysterical storytellers and a host of local talent are among the entertainment on the schedule for the 10th Annual Grassland Heritage Festival Saturday through June 12 in Elkhart.
The festival is named for the Cimarron National Grassland, the area near Elkhart, and the entire Saturday–to–Saturday event is dedicated to the theme of “a festival with a purpose” and supporting the Morton County Historical Society’s efforts to increase cultural awareness and tourism in southwest Kansas.
“From the family group Redhead Express to the historical re–enactments of Morton County Theatre Group, the entertainment is a wonderful variety for audiences of all ages,” said Myrna Barnes, festival co–chair. “Some events can be experienced for free and some for a small purchase of $10 for a souvenir collector’s pin that gives the wearer admission to most events all week long. That is the best entertainment value anywhere.”
Redhead Express is the festival grand finale that begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Elkhart High School Auditorium on June 12. Originally from Alaska, Redhead Express now calls Nashville home. They were featured performers in Branson for the past three years and also are in demand on tour traveling the “lower 48.” The family group is made up of mom and dad, Bret and Apryl Walker, and four daughters, ages 14 to 20, and three sons, ages 7 to 11. All sing and play instruments presenting a variety of catchy original songs as well as all types of music.
Teen singing sensation Lindee Link will provide the entertainment on June 6 during the noontime homemade chicken and noodle dinner served at Elkhart City Hall. Many will know Link from her performances with Disney, Veggie Tales, Delta, Kohl’s and Build–a–Bear.
Professional musician, songwriter, storyteller and teaching artist from Salina, Thad Beach is the guest performer on June 9 at kids’ day at Morton County Historical Museum. A Kansas Arts Commission “Arts on Tour” artist, Beach will present “Catfish County” at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Beach also plays the ukulele, guitar, harmonica, jaw harp and kazoo and tells leg–pullin’ truth–stretchin’ tales.
Popular storyteller and Kansas native Jeff Davidson will present stories and songs about the Santa Fe Trail and other Kansas events at the Morton County Civic Center on June 10, Santa Fe Trail Day. Davidson is also a Kansas Arts Commission “Arts on Tour” artist. He plays and the guitar and mixes factual stories and humor to highlight the trials, events and life as the pioneers traveled west in the 19th Century. Stories include the Santa Fe Trail, the farming settler, the Pony Express and the building of the railroads.
Cowgirl Poet Penny Forbes and Fiddler Robin Koonce will provide entertainment for the international luncheon on June 11 at the Morton County Civic Center and be joined by local favorite Kyle Johnson as the entertainment for the Cowboy Camp Out Welcome for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “Saddle Up Trail Ride” participants at the 81 Corrals on the Cimarron National Grassland that evening.
A highlight on June 12 is the living history re–enactments performed by the Morton County Theatre Group along the Cimarron National Grassland bus tour and Santa Fe Trail trail ride routes.
“We invite everyone to come out and enjoy the many events and help celebrate the culture of the Santa Fe Trail’s historic travelers and to learn in a fun way about the need to preserve the Cimarron National Grassland and the high plains prairie,” Barnes said.
The week’s schedule follows:
Saturday – 8:30 a.m. – free fishing derby hosted by the USDA Forest Service at the Cimarron National Grassland recreation area. For “kids” ages 0 to 16 and 55 years and older, awards will be presented for winning fish caught. A free lunch will be served and prizes will be given away. Call (620) 697-4621 for more information.
Sunday – noon – homemade chicken and noodle dinner at Elkhart City Hall. No cost with this year’s collector pin. Entertainment: Lindee Link.
Sunday – 7 p.m. – old fashioned church service and ice cream social hosted by Elkhart churches with a circuit riding preacher in Cunningham Park on Main St. in Elkhart.
Wednesday – free children’s day with pioneer–style hands on activities by Morton County Library staff, special visitors, and Morton County Historical Museum (MCHM) volunteers. Hot dogs and trimmings will be served at noon. Entertainment: Thad Beach.
Thursday – 6 p.m. – Santa Fe Trail Day begins with a chuck wagon meal. Entertainment: Jeff Davidson. Admission is no cost with pin.
June 11 – 11:30 a.m. – international luncheon at the Morton County Civic Center. Lunch may be purchased at a variety of food booths. Entertainment: Penny Forbes and Robin Koonce.
June 11 – 6 p.m. – Cowboy Camp Out Welcome for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “Saddle Up Trail Ride” participants at the 81 Corrals on the Cimarron National Grassland. Hamburgers and trimmings will be served. Bring lawn chairs to enjoy the sunset and entertainment. Admission is no cost with the collector pin. Rain location is the Morton County Civic Center in Elkhart. Entertainment: Forbes, Koonce and Kyle Johnson.
June 12 – 7 a.m. – cowboy breakfast for the Annual St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital “Saddle Up” Trail Ride riders at 81 Corrals before the riders mount up for their ride.
June 12 – 10 a.m. – bus tour of the Cimarron National Grassland leaves the MCHM. Entertainment: along the Santa Fe Trail and bus route living history re–enactments by the Morton County Theatre Group. The tour group will meet with the St. Jude Trail Riders for lunch at the group site at the Cimarron Recreation Area. Call the museum at (620) 697-2833 for lunch and bus reservations. Cost is $10.
June 12 – 7:30 p.m. – grand finale at the Elkhart High School Auditorium with Redhead Express. Reception follows at Fowler Field House. Admission is no cost with the collector pin.
For more information on how to purchase the collector’s pin ($10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 13, 5 and under free), contact Barnes or Becky Ellis at the Morton County Historical Society Museum at (620) 697-2833 or go to the website, www.ghf.mtcoks.com. The pins will go on sale soon not only at the MCHM, but also the Epic PCS retail stores in Guymon, Okla., and Liberal and Elkhart.
For more information about the St. Jude fund raiser call Vienna Lee at (620) 697-2275 for entry forms and information on how to win prizes including a saddle pad.