Ottawa will play host to the 2000 Kansas Sampler Festival Saturday and Oct. 8, an event that will showcase all the sights, sounds and tastes the state's rural communities have to offer.
This will be the 11th annual festival, which began in 1990 on the Penner family farm near Inman and attracted about 1,000 people. It was held there until 1997, then took place in Pratt for the last two years.
Organizers of the this year's festival said they're expecting the event to attract 10,000 to 15,000 people.
The event will feature exhibition booths representing 155 Kansas cities and towns, said Marci Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
The foundation selects sites to hold the festival. Once chosen, a town will have the event for two years.
"The purpose is to provide the public a sample of what there is to see and do in Kansas. Ottawa did a really good job to be picked (as the location). They showed a great understanding of the festival's purpose and have been able to organize and market it well," Penner said.
Five large tents will be filled with booths from across the state, touting the local points of interest of all the communities everything from museums to bed and breakfasts.
There will also be tents featuring products made in Kansas, including different foods and hand-crafted items.
"We want every part of the festival, including the food and entertainment, to help tell the Kansas story. This is the only event of the year I know of where we get communities of every size together," she said.
Just a few of the attractions are: a display of antique engines, sheep-shearing de-monstrations, lessons in scarecrow making for children, miniature horses from a farm near Wellsville and a working stagecoach from Olathe.
Two entertainment stages will be going all weekend, featuring storytellers, gospel singers, barbershop quartets, cowboy poets and balladeers, a harpist and country music.
The selection of Kansas foods will include buffalo and ostrich meat raised in Franklin County, as well as soy bratwurst made near Ottawa.
"(The festival is) a real eye opener. People are amazed to see and realize what the state has to offer. You tend to take for granted what you have in your own back yard," said Murray McGee, tourism director for the Franklin County Convention & Visitor's Bureau.
"Some people bring boxes and wagons to pick up brochures from booths, and then they can plan their next year's travel."