There's a reason I've been absent from the blog the past few days...we've made the trek to Kansas again. And while family and friends are definitely a draw, the this visit was timed to coincide with the Symphony in the Flint Hills. We joined Wayne's brother Maurice and wife Marsha last year at this annual festival and had such a great time we wanted to do it again.
When you think of symphonies, you think of ornate concert halls and fancy dress clothes but this one is different. A seemingly-endless blue sky and miles and miles of wide-open tall grass prairie are the setting and folks come dressed in shorts and blue jeans.
And the ushers work on horseback too. It's definitely unique.
We spent the pre-concert hours going from tent to tent, checking out the various activities that were available to us, and we went on a nature walk with an archeologist. He was really interesting, telling us about what life would have been like for the Indians who called these prairies home long before the first white settlers arrived. We were on the hunt for Indian turnips but didn't find any; Spring came earlier than usual to the plains this year and they were gone already. But he did point out a number of other plants and flowers as well as tell us about the geology of the area.
And we rode in the covered wagon. Our short ride was enough to make us appreciate the fact that we didn't have to spend weeks crossing the prairie to find a new home like our forefathers did. This page on the event's webpage has more of the activities that were available to fill our pre-concert hours. The second picture will give you an idea of just how large of an area this venue encompasses.
The biggest challenge this year was holding on to our hats. Oklahoma isn't the only place where the winds come sweeping across the plains and yesterday those winds were 25-35 mph with higher gusts. The pre-concert entertainment was watching people chase down the head-gear that tried to escape.
And as the sun began to sink in the west, the music started. It was a mixture that ranged from classical to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and the conductor even donned a Western hat during The Cowboy Overture. During that particular piece, a group of wranglers on horseback drove a herd of cattle across the ridge behind the band shell tent. I had to chuckle at all the people who jumped up to take photos. You'd think they'd never seen a cow.
The final piece of the concert? Home on the Range. It's the Kansas state song and everyone joined in in singing it. Sitting there on the open range, it was a fitting end to a unique event.