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34th Jam Kicks off 43rd Smoky Hill River Festival

Todd PittengerJune 14, 2019

A large crowd of over 11,000 enjoyed a picture-perfect evening in Salina’s Oakdale Park Thursday to be a part of the official opening event of the 2019 Smoky Hill River Festival. The Festival Jam officially started the annual party in the park.

The Jam wasn’t scheduled to start until 6:00. But there were fans waiting when the gates opened at 4:00. Within a matter of minutes, many people were already claiming their favorite spots. The crowd enjoyed a mild evening. According to Salina Arts and Humanities, before all was said and done 11,063 people passed through the gates and into the park.

This year’s Festival Jam could possibly be the last one for organizer Steve Hanson. The Salina musician and music store owner organized the first Jam, 34 years ago. He told KSAL News that though the event never gets old, there will come a time when he needs to step down. Will this year will be the last one for Hanson? He told KSAL News that he would make that decision after the festival wraps up. One thing Hanson has stepped back from is performances on Stage II. He said he has retired from that.

A noticeable absence for Festival Jam fans was the Last National Band. After four decades of making music the popular oldies rock n roll band retired at the end of last year and were not a part of the lineup Thursday Night. Hanson said it’s the first time he can ever remember the band not being a part of the event.

Along with the music, many also enjoyed the food. As the jam started, all of the food booths opened.  Fans munched on things like funnel cakes, corn dogs, corn-on-the-cob on a stick, Indian Tacos, “Gater Taters” and much more.

2019 is the 43rd year of the annual celebration of the arts in Salina. The popular Festival Jam was just the first of numerous musical events.

Friday night the Big Band Dance will be held inside the Tony’s Pizza Events Center.

There will be two main acts on the Eric Stein Stage, both Friday and Saturday night. They include:

  • Lost Wax, a Kansas City dance and party band with strong vocal and instrumental talent, known for its musical mash-ups that keep audiences moving to six decades of pop, rock, hip hop and R&B. Friday, June 14, 8:30 p.m.
  • Larkin Poe, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist sisters who have created their own brand of roots rock ‘n’ roll: gritty, soulful and flavored by their Southern heritage. Rebecca and Megan Lovell are descendants of the artist and poet Edgar Allen Poe. Saturday, June 15, 8:30 p.m.

Local favorites  Joe’s Pet Project, will close out the festival on Sunday afternoon.  The hometown favorites are famous for their live shows featuring diverse originals and eclectic covers. Members Nathan Tysen, Ryan McCall, John Hobson, Jason Hammond and Lance Gilchrist are known and loved by many. The group will close the Festival, playing a special set on Sunday June 16 at 3:30 p.m.

There will be some changes, but festival food this year won’t disappoint with 36 vendors. New food for festival goers to sample will include:

  • Buffalo Burgers
  • BBQ Pork Kabobs
  • Gougeres  French Pastries
  • Pancakes on a Stick
  • Milk Shakes

As far as the art is concerned, one of the most notable additions will be “Snake Oil”, a giant snake made from oil drums which will be floating in the river.



Copyright © Meridian Media, 2022. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.





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