Shawnee County is planning their biggest event of the year – the “Spirit of Kansas Festival” at Lake Shawnee on July 4th. In its 23rd year, the event has grown significantly from its original form.
“It all began with the fireworks,” said Communications and Public Information Supervisor for Shawnee County Parks + Recreation Mike McLaughlin. “They were once a part of an event called ‘Go Fourth’ which started out at Washburn University and outgrew that venue and it moved over to the lake and, as the Blues Festival got involved, it took it to a day-long event.”
The event this year starts with a golf tournament, followed by a car show at 9 a.m.
“We start off with a golf tournament – the first shotgun start is at 8:00 in the morning and, then, there’s another one at 130 p.m. at Lake Shawnee Golf Course,” said McLaughlin. “At 9:00 is the car show with all kinds of classic cars at Shelter Houses 4 and 5, off to the side of Tin Man Circle, by Reynolds’ Lodge.”
One of the biggest highlights of the Festival is the “Spirit of Kansas Blues Festival”, sponsored by the Topeka Blues Society.
“It’s our 10th-year anniversary, so we kind of wanted to blow it out,” said Topeka Blues Society President Suki Willison-Blakely. “We’re going to try something new this year. We have a spirit dancer coming and he’s going to bless the area and then, we’ll have our National Anthem and Color Guard. Then, to start the show, we’ll have the ‘Dust Devil Choir’, whose out of Kansas City, and they were the ones that won our International Blues Challenge and we took them to Memphis last year. They are the first ones ‘out of the hatch’ and they are the ones that get everybody going.”
In addition to musical entertainment, the “Spirit of Kansas Festival” will have a water ski show to delight the crowd.
“At 6:30 to 7:45 p.m., we’ll have the water ski show put on by the Shawnee County Boat and Ski Club,” said McLaughlin. “It starts off with the little kids doing pyramids on skis and then they’ll get the adults with kids on top of their shoulders doing skis. They’ll go at least ‘three-high’, if not more on one of the runs.”
The Festival concludes with a fireworks show sponsored by Capitol Federal Savings Bank.
“At 10 p.m. is the Capitol Federal Fireworks Display which is about twenty minutes,” said McLaughlin.
To get the full schedule of events, go to http://parks.snco.us/DocumentCenter/View/2510.
Image courtesy of Mike McLaughlin