The 28th and final Kansas Sampler Festival will take place in Winfield's Island Park on May 6 and 7 and Rhett and I will be there in the Northeast Kansas tent. 

The festival, designed to provide the public a sample of what there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy, and learn in Kansas, will end its successful run as the state's largest outdoor travel show.

Started on the Penner Farm near Inman in 1990 as a book signing party for Milferd Penner and Marci Penner's first Kansas Weekend Guide, the event led to the formation of the non-profit Kansas Sampler Foundation and its most visible project, the Kansas Sampler Festival.

Tourism exhibitors, musicians, entrepreneurs, cultural heritage demonstrators, historic performers, and food vendors will represent more than 130 Kansas communities in Winfield this year.  The purpose of the Kansas Sampler Festival is to grow the exploring audience for Kansas towns.

We’re excited to be one of the largest Kansas communities involved in the festival and we know that if you take the time to attend and visit with us, you’ll learn something new about Topeka.

Rhett and I are prepared to lose our voices. Last year, Visit Topeka chatted up more than 6,000 people, giving away thousands of items, hundreds of visitor guides and nearly 200 Vacation Value Cards to likely visitors. We also took some time to enjoy the festival.

As described by Sarah Werner, local festival director in Winfield: "Where else can you see a live reindeer and a blacksmith demonstration, listen to music on three stages and in an intimate coffeehouse bistro setting, and plan day trips to every region of the state?  You'll also find children's activities, lovable Pack goats and two mammoth donkeys, some farm animals, a disc golf demonstration, quilting demonstrations, antique tractors, and much more.  You can go shopping for Kansas products in three tents and make your food choices from 20 Kansas food vendors. If you want to get to know Kansas better, this is the place for you."

Marci Penner will debut her latest book at the festival. The new Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers will be available in the Kansas Explorers Club tent. After the festival, that book will be available at Wolfe’s Camera Shop in downtown Topeka.

In 2018, the Kansas Sampler Foundation will start a new event called the Big Kansas Road Trip. The public will be encouraged to explore three designated counties on the same weekend (May 3-6, 2018). Those showcase counties will be announced at this year's Kansas Sampler Festival and information will be available in the Kansas Explorers Club tent.

It's recommended that the public park at the Winfield Fairgrounds, 1105 W. 9th, and ride the frequent shuttles to Island Park.  Hours are Saturday, May 6 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, May 7 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children 7-12.  No pets allowed on the grounds. For more information, visit kansassamplerfestival.com.