Kansas Sampler Festival

Harland and I are both members of the Kansas Sampler Explorer’s club, which is part of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, a non-profit group whose mission is to “preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture” in Kansas. Every spring, the foundation holds a festival “to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas”.

A little history, bear with me: In 1990, a book signing was held for Mil and Marci Penner’s book, “Kansas Weekend Guide”, on the Penner Farm near Inman with one tent full of exhibitors. The event was such a success it was given the name, Kansas Sampler Festival. It was held for 8 years on the Penner farm until 1998 when it was decided to take the show on the road. Since then it has been held in many different towns around the state.

Harland had not been to the festival in a few years, and I’ve never been, so we drove to Leavenworth early Sunday morning to spend the day. We caught up with Marci Penner shortly after our arrival.

Harland with Marci Penner

Harland and Marci have known each other for about 10 years. Marci has been an invaluable source of information about Kansas for Harland in his photography work.

About 150 communities throughout Kansas were represented at this year’s festival to educate the public about what every corner of the state has to offer. There were many vendors on hand with products made in Kansas, from soap,

 to nuts,

from pottery,

 to pie.

 There was an amazing array of Kansas products, from hand lotion scented with Kansas grown lavender,

to jams and jellies made with KS grown produce,

from homemade candy,

to honey from industrious KS bees.

There was a lot of food to sample from the vendors, and Harland and I grazed our way through their tent. The 2 day festival also had 24 Kansas entertainers with many music styles represented, including jazz,

The Gospel of Jazz Friendship


Alferd Packer Memorial String Band

and instrumental guitar.

John Hamlin

 We especially enjoyed seeing the historic performers in period costume.

A bank robbery gone very wrong. -"Gunsmoke & Petticoats"

And we even saw a sheep shearing exhibition.

Abeldt Family Sheep Farm

There were many food vendors on hand selling ethnic or specialty foods. Harland and I had a pulled pork sandwich, potato salad and baked beans for lunch.

Big Dog's BBQ

There was also a tent for Kansas winery,

Holy-Field Vineyard & Winery

and microbrewery vendors.  

Lb. Brewing Co.

Harland and I had a great day. There was so much to see and do. We learned all kinds of things about Kansas that we didn’t know, we ate,

we listened to great music, we ate,

we met people from all over Kansas, and…oh yeah, we ate.

For anyone who wants to learn more about what Kansas has to offer, the festival is a great place to start. If you can’t attend the festival, the Kansas Sampler Foundation has a great website for learning about rural culture and products of Kansas, but also fun things to do in Kansas.  A link can be found under the links section on my site.