Symphony in the Flint Hills still may be months away but Marion County Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman has been busy for many months in preparation of the event.
“This is an opportunity that doesn’t come around often for our county to promote itself,” she said.
So, what’s the big deal?
This year’s Symphony in the Flint Hills will be in a pasture near Cedar Point, which actually is in Chase County, but Florence will serve as the “host” community for visitors prior to the main event.
Called “Prelude to the Symphony,” there could be as many as 30,000 people, descending on the county and converging in Florence June 12-13, looking for items to buy and food to eat.
Some visitors will return to Marion County after the symphony, Huffman said, just like in other host communities.
Council Grove was the host community for the prelude in 2008, and organizers have shared their experiences with Huffman.
“The visitors will want to shop, eat, and be entertained,” Huffman said.
Visitors primarily will be from larger communities such as Kansas City, Wichita, and other states.
Not everyone will be fortunate enough to be able to purchase a symphony ticket with only 6,000 “seats” available. In past years, the tickets sold out in a matter of a few hours. But thousands of people may come that weekend, just to be a part of the event — even if only from a distance.
The symphony itself, the evening of June 13, is the responsibility of the organization that sponsors the event. Marion County is only responsible for the prelude or events leading up to the symphony.
Downtown Florence will be lined with vendors, entertainers, and visitors when June 12 and 13 is here.
“This is a great opportunity for local civic organizations, church and youth groups, and 4-H Clubs who want to have food booths or area businesses who want to sell antiques, crafts, or other unique items,” Huffman said.
Family-oriented entertainment also is on tap with area favorites already committed to performing including The Greenhorns and The Brothers & Sisters.
Huffman said she anticipates commitments from entertainers and some vendors by March 15.
As one can imagine, it will take a large number of volunteers to pull off the prelude.
“I have been so pleased with people who have called to help,” Huffman said.
She continued that Neva Robinson of Florence wanted to promote the Harvey House, which is located in Florence, but needed volunteers.
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“Volunteers stepped-up from Peabody and Marion,” Huffman said. “It’s been amazing.”
Various committees have been established including logistics, food vendors, arts and crafts vendors, and entertainment.
“Volunteers have been diverse — from all over the county,” Huffman said.
The committees are meeting about every two weeks right now.
And more volunteers are needed.
Corporate and individual sponsorships will be solicited to offset expenses associated with this large tourism promotion.
Those businesses who give a sizeable donation will have the opportunity to display their banners with their business logos or promotions at the prelude festivities.
Sponsors also will be listed on brochures which will be distributed to symphony ticket-holders and available to tourists.
Want to be a volunteer, vendor, entertainer, or donate money?
Call Huffman at (620) 382-8830 or firstname.lastname@example.org.