WINFIELD, Kansas – Wednesday’s the official start of the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield. The music is on and even though much of the fairgrounds are muddy, it means many festival goers are camping at the Winfield City Lake, several miles away.
The flooding from Walnut River has caused quit a mess, forcing hundreds of campers to relocate 15 miles from Winfield Fairgrounds.
“We really love Winfield. We know it’s hard on them because of the weather, but this is something that will happen with the outdoor festival,” said camper, Thomas Trapp.
Trapp is one of thousands of Walnut Valley Festival campers setting up camp at Winfield City Lake Recreation Area. This is the second time in eight years campers needed to relocate away from the festival activities, due to flooding.
“It’s not as good for the shows at the festivals because now everybody is 15 miles away from where it’s at, but everybody makes it back up to the grand stands and stuff,”
He was here in 2008 where they had to make the same move. Walnut Valley Fest coordinator, Rex Flottman, said it’s all apart of its contingency plan, since they know the area is prone to flooding.
“It’s mostly a safety factor because the Walnut River, when they get a lot of rain in the El Dorado and above this area that runs in the Walnut River, this river can come up very fast,” Flottman said.
Officials say last week they saw the water rise 2 feet in about an hour. Flottman said they will provide four charter buses to pick up campers from campgrounds to the fairgrounds. And if parking gets full, people can park at Winfield High School for the day. Organizers know the flooding will impact attendance.
“There will be people that are concerned about the mud and being able to get around and having places to park,” Flottman said. “We’ve tried to make that as easy as possible.”
But they also know festival goers are loyal.
“Moving out here doesn’t necessarily mean the festivity is over for us. It’s really not what ground we’re on,” said Trapp. “We’d prefer to be at the festival grounds because that’s home, but we still got all the people here.”
Meaning the music will go on.
“We really, we just do the best that we can here. We all know that if it doesn’t rain, it’s not Winfield. It always rains during the festival,” said camper, Ashlyn Rozen.
If we see more rain Thursday, organizers say they’ll still go on with their full schedule, saying they have backup plans for all four stages to be covered or moved to another location.