February 13, 2016

Festival on the Trails returns to town next weekend

Corbin H. Crable

Music, food, fun and community pride will all be on display when the fourth annual Festival on the Trails takes place in downtown Gardner on Saturday, June 11.
The daylong event, first organized in 2007 for the city’s sesquicentennial celebration, will feature the combined efforts of community volunteers from local businesses.

It’s the culmination of months of planning, said Cherlyn White-Conklin of Central National Bank, one of the festival’s sponsors.

“We work year round to get ready,” White-Conklin said. “One of the biggest changes (in the offerings of this year’s festival) is in the kids area. We’ve added eight more activity stations there, and a second tent. The biggest thing is, everything (in the kids area) is free.”

Children will be able to get their hands dirty with a variety of arts and crafts activities, including making jewelry, a hair-coloring station and having their faces painted by a professional face painter. Kids also can participate in hula hoop races, fly high in a bounce castle and strike a pose in a photo booth. Demonstrations by Gardner Martial Arts students and the ‘Blazerette dance team will round out the fun in the kids area.

The festival’s kids activities not only tout fun, but safety as well, White-Conklin said.

Gardner police and Johnson County law enforcement officials will offer a kit for the state’s Child Identification Program, which parents can organize to help aid in the identity and recovery of missing children. The kit allows parents to file a DNA swab, digital still photo and fingerprints of their children to local police. The local Masons chapter will sponsor the program at the festival.

“The kits are a $50 value, and parents can get them for their children for free,” White-Conklin said, adding that it will take place in the parking lot of the First Presbyterian Church.

But the festival isn’t just for kids, she said – there’s plenty for adults, too, such as a car and truck show, arts and crafts show, and food vendors.

A returning event at this year’s festival will be a sanctioned chili cook-off, sponsored by the Chili Appreciation Society International. According to the event schedule, the competition is open to all, and judges will sample chili in two divisions: CASI chili and homestyle chili. Check-in for contest entrants begins at 7:30 on Shawnee Street in front of Gardner Elementary School, and judging will begin at noon. The cost to enter is $20.

Those wandering the festival grounds gazing at vintage cars or enjoying fried Twinkies will also be entertained by a variety of musical groups performing on the main stage, such as the country and bluegrass stylings of Redhead Express and the bluesy sounds of Gardner’s very own Brandon Miller Band.

Finally, distinguished Gardner residents will once again have the chance to get together and share their memories at the second annual Chatfest on the Trails, said former Gardner Mayor Phyllis Thomen, one of the event’s organizers.

Distinguished Gardner citizens who are at least 70 years of age and who have lived in Gardner Township or the USD 231 area for at least 45 years are invited to come to the Kramer Hall of the First Baptist Church between 2 and 4 p.m. to reminisce about their lives in the area and learn about Gardner history.

“It’s an opportunity to get together, renew friendships and chat,” Thomen said. “It’s just very informal.”

The Gamma Xi chapter of Beta Sigma Phi will supply refreshments, and the Gardner Historical Museum will be on hand to show video and images related to the city’s history.
White-Conklin said none of the festival’s fun would be possible without the generosity of donations from local businesses and residents, too.

“This festival is 100 percent funded by businesses and donations,” she said. “Businesses are generous with opening their wallets and giving their time and money (to sponsor the festival). We have to watch our pennies and make it stretch further than you think.”

Both time and monetary donations from local residents are appreciated as well, White-Conklin said.

For more information on next weekend’s Festival on the Trails, including a schedule and full list of sponsors, visit www.festivalonthetrails.com.


  1. How about encouraging citizens to bring canned goods or other non-perishables for the needy – containers could be placed throughout the festival for the convenience of citizens – in fact, perhaps a drive-thru location could be set up. Many, many of our people are suffering and need this extra help. Nothing better than a hand to help you up instead of a hand out………

  2. Good idea.

  3. finally says:

    Judith – i think that is the best idea you have ever had.

  4. I am and have always been ready to help the needy, disabled, mentally ill, illiterate people, the sick, elderly, etc. and have volunteered time and time again to help them throughout my life plus financial support. It is the thieves, the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, the connivers and manipulators and hypocrites in the world that get me going…………

  5. Judith:
    Great idea! This late in the game, I know we cannot pull together something of this magnitude. I will certainly suggest this to the Board of Directors for next year.
    If the Board decided to approve this task for the next year, would you be willing to head this up? Most of our resources are completely tapped out.
    Thanks so much.

  6. Sorry, can’t help you out Cherlyn. As I have mentioned time and time again and which I am sure you are aware, serious health issues preclude me at this time to be involved in projects of this nature. I am doing good to keep myself clean and get my food prepared but that is not your problem as you and others have made apparent on more than one occasion and just like you did right now by your snide comments.

  7. Judith:
    I think you should run for Gardner City Council! You seem just like the people we already have on council, lots of ideas with no clue or ability to get anything done.
    One question for you Judith, what do you think the term of power to the people means? You seem to talk about it a lot but you never consider majority vs. minority. It seems to me that when people disagree with you. You always assume they are the minority. I hate to have to say it but Judith sometimes you can just be wrong.
    Thanks and I look forward to the response!

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