The Flint Hills of Kansas
What an exciting week-end I had. Ten years ago, an event labeled "Symphony in the Hills" wowed the people of our state, so it's become an annual event. Ken and I have always wanted to go but tickets go so fast that we'd never been successful. This year, we got smart and booked our tickets through our senior living community. We rode their bus and had reserved seating. Smartest thing we've done in a long time.
The Kansas City Symphony presents a concert smack dab in the heart of the Flint Hills, a different spot each year. This 10th Anniversary year, they returned to the initial spot near Cottonwood Falls in Chase County. The crowd was estimated at 7,000.
The weather for this outdoor event was 'iffy' all day. Rain off and on and gloomy skies, but we packed rain gear and a few other items. For some unknown reason, I tossed in my sunglasses and so did Ken. On the hour bus ride through the spectacular scenery, I kept wondering if we had been crazy to even try going. The forecast didn't look good. As we neared the destination, the skies were more clear and clouds white and fluffy, not looking like gloom and doom as they had back in Manhattan. One of those clouds opened up and poured on us as we left town.
We had a choice of riding up to the event site or walking a mile on a trail. The line for the ride was so long that we decided to walk and glad we did. Along the trail, we met riders on horseback every so often who watched over things and greeted people. We were also treated to the magnificent view no matter which way we turned. I donned my sunglasses as we set out and wore them until the sun went down later in the evening. So glad I had brought them!
When we saw the many white event tents, we knew we were there! Educational classes, art auctions, gift shop, bar and food--all these found in various tents.We strolled around and then ate, finishing in time to find our seats. We had seen many people carrying chairs as they hiked up the trail, some pulling wagons filled with chairs and food and rain gear. There were several rows for patrons of the Kansas City Symphony and then for groups like ours. We were right in the center so had a great view The rest sat on chairs or blankets they'd brought, even a few on the many hay bales provided. Huge speakers projected the sound across the prairie.
With the opening composition, I felt goosebumps rising on my arms. To listen to such a fine symphony orchestra amidst nature at its best was a thrilling experience. One piece after another continued to thrill the audience. Lyle Lovett and his accompanists presented several songs to bring the show to a stunning end. The final moments brought shivers as the entire crowd rose to their feet and joined in singing Home On The Range.
Partway through the performance, a herd of cattle and several cowboys on horses could be seen just to the left of the band shell and atop a hill. Talk about local color! This was it. Add the sight of the setting sun--which had spread its rays on us all afternoon--and I'd call it a perfect evening.
If you would like to learn more about this event go to the website for information and photos.
The sun had set when we started to walk down the well-lit trail to the parking areas. From the top of the hill as we set out, we could see what appeared to be a never-ending line of walkers leaving the symphony site. I thought that most of them had the same feelings as I'd had. The sound of music across those green hills had fed my soul and I knew the memory would stay with me for a very long time.
On Sunday, I attended a poetry presentation by three Kansas poets who have an album called View From Smoky Hill. There are poems and spoken stories on the album that are about Kansas, the prairie, and the people. It was a perfect way to end my Flint Hills Week-end.