If you take K-177 south from Manhattan for about 70 miles, you will eventually find yourself in Chase County – the heart of Kansas’ Flint Hills. It’s home to sprawling prairie landscapes, wide open skies and as of last Saturday, the 11th annual Symphony in the Flint Hills.
This year’s concert, located at South Clements Pasture, was “a one-of-a-kind event in a one-of-a-kind setting,” according to the symphony’s board of directors chair Virginia Moxely. Thousands of patrons showed up for the Signature Event with the Kansas City Symphony, to see what would be conductor Aram Demirjian’s final performance with this orchestra.
Carrie Lindeman, the symphony’s public relations coordinator, said that about five thousand tickets were sold, but that the number of people in attendance was higher.
“About 7,000 is our number,” Lindeman said.
When the gates opened at noon, people started flooding into the pasture’s makeshift parking lot to start their walk or ride up to the main site. There were wagon rides, barbecue from Cox Bros, guided prairie walks, a “petting zoo” of instruments to play, plenty of educational lectures and stargazing that lasted late into the night.
Once the sun started to set, people began to set up their folding chairs and tents by the main stage so they could enjoy the evening’s performance. While the Kansas City Symphony filled the thick summer air with music, cowboys began a cattle drive behind the venue. To end the night, the K-State Summer Choral Institute led the audience in a singalong to “Home on the Range.”
“I think it was a great way to tie in with a lot of generations here,” Lindeman said.
As the light faded, the activities continued into the night with cowboy poetry, stories and music in a story circle, a dance and stargazing under the endless Kansas sky.
Next year, the event will be hosted in Geary County at the Deer Horn Ranch on June 10, 2017. More information is available at symphonyintheflinthills.org.