Archive for Sunday, June 30, 2002

Frog-racing, parade add to the fun at Lecompton Territorial Day festival

June 30, 2002


When Brad Sled, 13, found a bullfrog Thursday, he thought the large, slimy amphibian had what it took to win the frog race at Lecompton's Territorial Day festival Saturday.

But the frog almost didn't make it to the starting line.

"I'm too afraid to touch it," said Brad of Lecompton, struggling to hold onto the Styrofoam container as the frog caused it to lurch from his grasp.

Finally the bullfrog made its way to the starting line, but it didn't hop on to glory. Instead it took three big leaps sideways, leaving Brad short of the $20 prize.

But he wasn't too disappointed.

"It's still the most exciting day in Lecompton," Brad said.

About 2,000 people came out to enjoy the festival, which celebrates the historical importance of Lecompton to the state and nation during the territorial period of Kansas. The event kicked off early in the morning with a pancake feed, softball tournament, and turtle and frog races  all of which began before 9 a.m. The turtle and frog races had their largest turnout ever. About 150 turtles and frogs were entered.

The parade was under way at 11 a.m. Twenty-eight entries, which included covered wagons, fire trucks, horses, tractors, clowns and even a boat, made their way from Lecompton Elementary School to Lecompton United Methodist Church.

The parade's theme  "Bald Eagle Pride"  inspired the grandchildren of Bob and Mary Sue Christman, Lecompton, to decorate their float as a covered wagon. They each dressed up as a different character from history. The Christman children won first prize in the children's division of the float decorating contest.

Other events included tours of Constitution Hall and Territorial Capital Museum, a street dance, bike races, pioneer life demonstrations and an ice cream social.

The festival dates back before the turn of the century, said Paul Bahnmaier, Territorial Day committee member. It was known as the Harvest Home Picnic until 1975, when Constitution Hall was recognized as a national landmark.

"At that point we began to realize how important our history was to our nation and country," Bahnmaier said.

Allyson Christman, Lecompton, has served as announcer for the festival for three years. She describes the small-town event as a festival with a "Norman-Rockwellian feel." Recent additions include a carnival.

"Every year they're wanting to add something new," she said. "There's something for everybody. Whether it's a grandma or a little toddler. Everyone has something to do."

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