Classical Music & Dance

Symphony in the Flint Hills cancels this year’s event due to weather

The Symphony in the Flint Hills has canceled this year’s event, announcing Saturday that weather damage was too great for the show to go on.

And there won’t be any refunds or exchanges for the $50 to $95 tickets, according to a statement by the event’s organizers.

Each year, the nonprofit organization Symphony in the Flint Hills, Inc., organizes a day of celebration somewhere in the Flint Hills that culminates with a performance by the Kansas City Symphony on the wide-open prairie. Its mission is to educate and preserve the tallgrass prairie that’s native to Kansas.

The symphony started unofficially in 1994, when Jane Koger threw a birthday party in the middle of a pasture in the Flint Hills and convinced the Kansas City Symphony to perform. What started as a small group of Koger’s friends has blossomed into an annual event that draws more than 7,000 people to rural Kansas.

It has more than 700 volunteers and includes cowboy poetry, star gazing, educational tents, prairie flower tours, a dance and a stunning view of the Kansas sunset. The event is the subject of a journalism class at Wichita State University, the Flint Hills Media Project.

This year the event was scheduled for Saturday at Irma’s Pasture near Bazaar in Chase County. But a late-night storm Friday caused the organization to postpone the show until Sunday.

Late Saturday afternoon, the organization announced that the damage and severe weather in Sunday’s forecast would be too dangerous. This is the first time the symphony has been canceled.

“Unfortunately, we cannot safely host the event,” the organization said in a statement. “We also don’t want to put any lives in danger due to the storms in the forecast.”

“The undaunting year-round work to plan, set-up and manage a site of this magnitude with 700 volunteers, our small staff team, site leaders, vendors and you — our audience and supporters — makes the necessity of cancelling the Signature Event truly heartbreaking,” the statement says.

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A tent is turned on its side at the planned site of the Symphony in the Flint Hills (photo by Brogan Gillmore, Flint Hills Media Project).

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A tent has collapsed at the planned site of the Symphony in the Flint Hills (photo by Brogan Gillmore, Flint Hills Media Project).


Here is the entire statement from the Symphony in the Flint Hills:

“On June 15, 2019 the Symphony in the Flint Hills Signature Event site sustained severe damage. Tents were destroyed and due to predictions of incoming severe weather tonight, the board has made the difficult decision to cancel the Signature Event tomorrow. Our mission is to heighten appreciation and knowledge of the tallgrass prairie – and it is also our duty to protect it. Unfortunately, we cannot safely host the event. We also don’t want to put any lives in danger due to the storms in the forecast.

“The undaunting year-round work to plan, set-up and manage a site of this magnitude with 700 volunteers, our small staff team, site leaders, vendors and you — our audience and supporters — makes the necessity of cancelling the Signature Event truly heartbreaking.

“Thank you for your support and understanding. While there are no refunds or exchanges for event tickets, Symphony In the Flint Hills appreciates your support of our mission. Symphony In the Flint Hills would not exist without your support.”

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Chance Swaim won the Betty Gage Holland Award in 2018 for distinguished service to honor and protect the integrity of public dialogue on America’s college campuses. He has been a news reporter for The Wichita Eagle since 2018. You can contact him at 316-269-6752 and cswaim@wichitaeagle.com.
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