ATCHISON — Each July, thousands of people flock to Atchison for the Amelia Earhart Festival, named in honor of the legendary aviatrix and Atchison native.
And while the festival, set for its 23rd year July 19 and 20, includes music, food, crafts, children’s activities, a carnival, fireworks and more to appeal to every member of the family, the primary mission continues to be to honor the memory of Earhart, who was born July 24, 1897, in Atchison.
“We are constantly trying to make things better and now, as we look at new and different things, we’re trying to focus more on what we can do that would add to the awareness and education in the spirit of Amelia,’’ festival coordinator Jacque Pregont said. “How can we inspire kids? How can we encourage them to think outside the box and follow the dream, whatever those dreams are? That’s what she did, and it wasn’t always easy for her.’’
Those attending the festival can get an up-close look at Muriel (named for Earhart’s younger sister), a 1935 Lockheed Electra L-10-E aircraft that is the last plane in existence that is just like the one Earhart disappeared in on July 2, 1937, in the Pacific Ocean while en route to Howland Island from New Guinea.
Fans can also tour the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum, which will be open on both days of the festival, while there will also be aerobatic performances in the spirit of Earhart.
This year’s Festival kicks off Friday, July 19, when country artists Kip Moore, Kylie Morgan and Devin Dawson take the stage at beautiful Warnock Lake, which is three miles southwest of Atchison.
A carnival will operate from Wednesday through Saturday the week of the festival while a wide variety of events are on tap Friday and Saturday.
“We do try very hard to make sure there’s something for everybody,’’ said Pregont, who has involved with the festival for 16 years.
Pregont said that while some events, including LakeFest and the carnival, do charge admission, many others are free.
“We’re very blessed in this community to have people who are very generous and sponsor so much of the festival that so much of it is free,’’ Pregont said. “There are so many things that people can come and see and do that don’t cost any money.
“That’s what we want because we want everybody that wants to be here to be able to be here. It’s a huge thing for our community, but also for people that come to visit, that there are opportunities to learn about Amelia, to experience her spirit in several different ways. There’s so many things to come and see and do and learn.’’