Festive trifecta


FallFest, Art in the Park, Oktoberfest entertain the masses.

FallFest, Art in the Park, Oktoberfest entertain the masses.



Twelve-year-old Gage Nelson didn't hesitate when asked what his favorite part of FallFest was Saturday morning.

"I love the chili cheese nachos," Nelson said.

Thousands flocked to downtown Garden City on Saturday for FallFest, Art in the Park and Knights of Columbus' Oktoberfest. It was the fourth year all three events came together on the same weekend.

Nelson, of Sublette, said his hometown doesn't normally have such big events.

"I love it so far," he said.

Gage's grandmother, Glenda Nelson of Garden City, confessed that she had to indulge in a funnel cake.

"I normally don't do that," she said.

Nelson said she and her grandson were enjoying watching people, looking at what vendors were offering in Stevens Park. She hadn't bought anything yet, but said she wouldn't be surprised if she did later.

"They do such beautiful work. I'm surprised, things are not as expensive as they usually are," Nelson said.

Downtown on Saturday featured a variety of games for children and adults, entertainment and downtown merchants offered specials all day. About 60 vendors showed their wares, including arts, crafts, foods from around the world, woodworking, home furnishings, accessories, face painting, glitter hair weaving, farmers' market items, and various demonstrations.

Jean Henderson, Garden City, stopped by Art in the Park and picked up a yard ornament with a solar light.

Henderson said she has been coming to FallFest and Art in the Park for many years and enjoys it every time.

"They used to be a lot bigger. But I enjoy coming to look at crafts to get some ideas," she said. "If I don't find something I want, I might get an idea of how to make it myself. I just come out and roam, until either I find something or just look around."

Future player Justin Verlanders, and a few old timers, got the chance to test their arm speed using the Red Hawk Baseball & Softball Academy's radar gun, a new activity this year at FallFest.

Reynaldo Mesa, president of Red Hawk Academy, said the group hoped to raise some money for its future baseball and softball camps and also help renew interest among youth in the game.

"Baseball's been neglected for so long, and that's terrible," Mesa said. "We want the academy to be both for baseball and for girls fast pitch. We're looking to grow."

Bruce Bitter, artist and co-owner of B&B Metal Arts of Hoisington, brought his steel, hand-crafted pieces to Art in the Park instead of the Hillsboro Craft Show because of Garden City's supportive atmosphere for public art.

Bitter has been crafting steel art since 1995 and goes to about 50 craft shows per year. Garden City was one of his first craft fairs many years ago. Two years ago, he made a 9-11 memorial piece that's at Garden City Regional Airport.

Western Kansas has been very good for his business. Bitter said that in 1997 or 1998, he was one of the first artists to get licensed to sell metal collegiate art with Kansas State University. During that time frame, Bitter sold a lot of wind vanes at a K-State-Nebraska football game, but then doubled his sales after coming to a craft show in western Kansas.

"What do I like about Garden City? It's western Kansas," he said.

People wandered up and down Main Street between the duck races and Stevens Park, browsing merchandise and chowing down on bierocks, gyros and other tasty treats.

Jennifer Stevens of Holcomb took a break in the shade of a building to attend to her two children, 17-month-old Wyatt and 5-week-old Elizabeth.

It was the family's first time at FallFest, and Stevens said they were having a good time, starting with the duck races. Their duck didn't win, but it was close, she said.

"We've mostly just been walking around. We took a look at Art in the Park and all the crafts, and later we're going to go over to the Knights of Columbus," she said. "We're enjoying it so far. We're going to go ride the train after we eat."

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