Off We Go: Azwell samples Kansas – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Off We Go: Azwell samples Kansas

By Dave Azwell


Dave Azwell samples some barbecue at the Kansas Sampler Festival.

Off we go … and away we went on a whirlwind weekend to Wamego. This time it wasn’t a sightseeing adventure, but presenting Osage City to thousands of people at the Kansas Sampler Festival, May 3-4, 2014. The wife (Tara) and I, along with J.D. and Gail Lohmeyer and Vida Lewis, were hosts at the Osage City booth in the northeast Kansas tent. It was an Osage County endeavor, also, as Burlingame, Melvern, Lyndon, Carbondale and Osage City occupied about half the space in the tent. It was a great and enthusiastic 25th anniversary for the KSF.

The Osage City Chamber of Commerce spearheaded the Osage City activities for the weekend. The members of the Chamber graciously donated various “freebies”, flyers, posters, labor and materials to help make this venture a success. Chamber executive director Cathryn Houghton, Osage City County Economic Development’s Stephanie Watson, and I visited various towns in the county to get them to attend the festival. As a result, Osage County dominated the northeast Kansas tent.

Who do you thank for helping out with such an endeavor ? The wife reached out to Osage City Elementary School Principal Dena Paul about creating a video to display during the weekend. She reached out to Kyleigh and Andy Lohmeyer for technical assistance and they reached out to the fifth-graders, who created an absolutely wonderful video on Osage City. (See video here.)

Casey Mussatto and Herald-Chronicle editor Jeremy Gaston updated the Osage City brochure and Jeremy provided additional publicity. (See related story on Osage County News.) Theel’s improved the flagpole on which the “Osage’s Got It!” flag hung. An opening flag parade featuring flags from many of the towns kicked off the festival. They were then displayed during the weekend along the main walkway for everyone to see.

Osage County Senior Center’s Byron Jordan set up bus transportation. Smoke in the Spring organizer Corey Linton provided some contest T-shirts for display. Cathryn Houghton asked and the city responded by providing funding for some really neat Osage City tote bags printed up by the INK girls. The totes were the best looking bags there. People were impressed with the sample of Osage City branded coffee that we were serving, which led to us selling out of the supply we had on hand by Saturday afternoon.

There were posters hung along the back wall of the booth thanks to Rick Totman and Flint Hills Beverage. The posters showed information about Osage City’s events such as the upcoming airport improvements, Smoke in the Spring BBQ contest, the car show, the vintage plane fly-in, the Beerfest next September, the Mud Run in June, last year’s BBQ Pitmasters show, and KTWU’s Sunflower Journeys show next fall that will feature Osage City and Smoke in the Spring. When we ran out of flyers and other information on these events, we were writing notes on anything we could get our hands on for people to take with them.

And we hung our hat on Skydive Kansas! Our greeting to most people was asking them if they wanted to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. It got their attention! We often blocked the walkway in the tent as we talked with curious folks about Skydive Kansas. The last remaining copies of the Osage County guide with the picture of skydivers on the front cover were a popular item as people took them to read about Skydive Kansas. Many were amazed that we had such a business in Osage City and that we had an airport for them to operate out of. They were impressed with the level of experience and professionalism of Jen Sharp and her crew. Having J.D. around made it even more interesting as he told about his skydiving experience last year.

Needless to say, it was a good experience. By 2 p.m. Sunday, we had handed out nearly everything we had. We talked about next year, which will be in Wamego again May 2-3. Existing ideas were tweaked and several new thoughts tossed around. Close to 12,000 people attended the festival and a number of them were from Osage City and Osage County. We met several folks originally from Osage City, but living elsewhere now, and one 1977 graduate of Osage City High School. It was also a pleasure visiting and sharing information with the other four Osage County participants.

I apologize if I’ve left anyone out. There were so many who contributed. Osage City was very visible and was represented very well and, hopefully, we’re looking forward to next year.

See photos of Osage County at the Kansas Sampler Festival.

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