Country Stampede’s relocation to Topeka spells revenue loss for Manhattan businesses

Ahead of Kicker Country Stampede, McMillin's Liquor on Tuttle Creek Boulevard encourages locals to "stock up now" on beer before embarking on the trip to Topeka. (Rachel Hogan | Collegian Media Group)

Beyond the traffic and the country music, Manhattan expects to lose about $8 million as a result of the 24th Kicker Country Stampede’s relocation to Topeka.

The decision to move the music festival to the Heartland Motorsports Park came amid safety concerns and potential flooding at Tuttle Creek State Park.

As such, Manhattan will miss out on millions of dollars in economic impact, said Karen Hibbard, vice president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and director of Visit Manhattan. This specifically affects grocery stores, gas stations, hotels and retail stores.

Teresa McMillin, owner of the McMillin’s Liquor and Hop-N-Skip on Tuttle Creek Boulevard, said she suspected Stampede wouldn’t be held at Tuttle Creek State Park, but didn’t think it would be held so far from Manhattan.

“I couldn’t believe it,” McMillin said. “I was floored. I didn’t think they would move it to Topeka.”

In typical week leading up to the music festival, McMillin said the store would be stocking up on beer and receiving a whole trailer of ice in preparation for the stampede of Stampede-goers.

“We lost a lot of revenue,” McMillin said.

Instead, McMillin’s is holding beer specials for people to “stock up now and buy local” before heading to Topeka this weekend.

Besides the direct monetary impact, Stampede’s relocation is a missed opportunity to showcase Manhattan as a tourist destination.

“I think it is important that many people make Manhattan their destination for country music in June,” Hibbard said. “It’s an opportunity for visitors to see Manhattan in a different way, and there’s many things that Manhattan has to offer. … It’s an opportunity to plan your own getaway, just not with 30,000 fans that are here for country music, but certainly there are other opportunities that would cause someone to come to Manhattan.”

Hey, hi, hello! I’m Rachel Hogan, the copy chief for The Collegian. I’m a senior in journalism from Olathe, Kansas. When I’m not at work in the newsroom, I like to spend my time cuddling with my dog, working as a barista and laughing with my friends.