The 40th Smoky Hill River Festival got off to a rousing start Thursday night. KSAL’s Clarke Sanders took the stage, in front of an overflow crowd surrounding the Eric Stein Stage in Oakdale Park, and announced the first band to kickoff the official opening event. The Festival Jam officially started the annual party in the park.
Steve Hanson organized the first Jam, 31 years agao. He told KSAL News that the event never gets old. “It’s really the biggest showcase in the country, there’s nothing else like it,” he said.
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 already claiming their favorite spots.
The crowd enjoyed a hot, windy evening.
Along with the music, many also enjoyed the food. By 5:00 all of the food booths were open. All of last year’s food vendors are back. Some, though, have added to their menus. New food for festival goers to sample includes:
- Chicken and Waffles
- Fried Oyster
- Turkey Strawberry Sliders
- Fried Cheese Curds
- Grilled Pork Mac n Cheese
It is a landmark year for the arts in Salina. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Salina Arts and Humanities organization, the 40th anniversary of the organization’s premier event the Smoky Hill River Festival, and the 30th anniversary of the Smoky Hill Museum, which is where the organization is located.