Every year the largest remaining stand of tallgrass prairie hosts a pilgrimage of nearly 7,000 visitors partaking in the Symphony in the Flint Hills. What started in 1994 near the small town of Matfield Green, Kansas, as a birthday celebration that drew an astounding crowd of more than 3,000 people has evolved into a 501c3 organization that supports a small staff year round and is assisted by over 700 volunteers. After the original concert in 1994, leaders in Chase, Lyon, Morris, and Wabaunsee County founded the Symphony in the Flint Hills, Inc. and hosted the first signature event in 2006. The group is guided by a 15-member Board of Directors and has added additional programs and educational series.
When attending the annual event, to ensure that guests make the most of their time, arrive early in the afternoon and allow plenty of time for parking. The concert rotates to new sites throughout the Flint Hills, and parking typically is not easy – but that is part of the charm: To enjoy the Flint Hills properly one has to venture far off the beaten path, and with 7,000 people attending, traffic can be slow.
After parking, a ticketing tent greets guests before revealing a winding walking trail that meanders through tallgrass prairie and wildflowers. Instead of a direct line to the event site, the trail takes a more scenic route so that guests can truly appreciate the setting. White tents dot the horizon as the only structures within miles.
Informational tents offer guidance throughout the site; educational tents host informative talks and presentations about a range of topics covering the Flint Hills and the tallgrass prairie. An art gallery and giftshop offers a phone charging station, books, art, and a plethora of other items. A food tent offers the best of Midwestern favorites, and a beverage tent sells beer and wine for those of age. At the end of the site is a patron tent that hosts attendees who help sponsor the event.
Be sure to stay hydrated throughout the day as Kansas summers can be hot and humid. Medical aid tents are available should something arise, but sunscreen, sun shading hats, and water are all necessities to enjoy the day to its fullest.
At sunset, the day culminates with the signature concert played by the award-winning Kansas City Symphony that is brought in from Kansas City, which is about 200 miles to the east. Special guests are announced every year that add to the already amazing music selection for the evening. The music, summer breeze, and the picturesque setting will take you away to a truly unique experience that few have enjoyed.
Tickets are available every spring and typically sell out online in a matter of minutes, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly. While this year's event is over, be sure to sign up for their email list or like their page on Facebook to stay informed about how to purchase tickets for next year's event.
Other programs are scheduled throughout the year. For additional information, please visit the Symphony in the Flint Hills website.