For my MIL’s birthday we flew into town to spend about a week hanging out in the town where Sarah grew up, spending some time with family and friends.
For her birthday, MIL’s SIL got her six tickets to the Symphony in the Flint Hills — that meant we got to come along.
This year, the event was graciously hosted on the grounds of historic Fort Riley, a place of great significance to the region, the native populations of the 19th century Midwest USA, and the nation as a whole, due to the army’s establishment of its cavalry school and the legendary Buffalo Soldiers based there. Later it became the home of The Big Red One.
It took longer than I expected to arrive there from KC, but that was partly due to some traffic problems on the way. Fort Riley is near Junction City, Kansas, and we all had to show ID at the entrance gate. That was not such a big surprise, considering it is an active military base, but the guard merely glanced at the driver licenses (and passports) before handing them back to us and wishing us a pleasant day on post. This made me think that either they were looking for someone specifically by name, or else making snap judgements about the vehicle’s passengers based on their names and faces (and cars). Something bugs me about that, but I can’t put my finger on it exactly. I suppose that is exactly what happens at airports around the world thousands of time per day.
Anyway, we rolled in, parked, and applied sunscreen and bug spray liberally. We scouted out a row to set up our collapsible chairs. I was a bit surprised the plan was to set them up and walk away for most of the day. Wouldn’t they be at risk of being bogarted? “People just don’t do that here!” was the answer I got. And they didn’t — upon our return many hours later, before the concert finally started, our chairs and a knapsack of Sarah’s uncle’s were all waiting intact for us.
We spent the day wandering around the barracks and parade grounds and fields and museums on the post. We
- watched equestrian performances,
- attended lectures from professors and other subject-matter experts about the historical and cultural significance of the local native population
- scarfed down beef brisket and barbecue baked beans in a giant chow hall tent
- checked out the prairie art scene
- listened to live folk music performed in costume — and even a tribute to German immigrants to the prairie
…and most of all crossed our fingers that the weather would hold out. In the end, it did — we never got more than about four drops of rain.
Here’s that German prairie immigrant tribute:
Wrapping up the concert was the big finale, a sing-along to Home on the Range, the Kansas State Song:
Here are some snapshots from throughout the day: