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The Salt City Welcomes Return of Hutch Fest in October 2023


By Brenna Eller


HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Hutch Fest is coming back in full swing this October and is sure to greet the community of Hutchinson with loads of nostalgia since there hasn’t been a full celebration since 2016.

For many Hutchinson natives, Hutch Fest has been a staple in the community for decades. For that very reason, the Hutch Rec wants this year to be chalk full of festival traditions, bringing back community favorites such as the Ad Astra Radio Talent Show, Rod Run and Street Concerts in Downtown Hutchinson.

Slippin’ Sideways performing at Hutch Fest in 2012. Photo by Bob Hunter

From the Movie in the Park event on Friday night to the Salt City 5K/10K races Saturday morning, there are activities lined up for everyone to enjoy the weekend of Oct. 6 and Oct. 7.

Hutch Rec Assistant Executive Director Amy Conkling said, “I think people will be most excited about the street concerts, Talent Show, and family-friendly activity area that is making a comeback to Hutch Fest. I’m most excited about our street concerts and generally the entire community uniting for one large celebration, all weekend long. There’s entertainment for every demographic, most of all of the events and activities being free as we celebrate Hutchinson.”

Conkling was born and raised in Hutchinson and enjoyed Hutch Fest in the early 90s.

“I remember my dad playing with fellow K-State alum in the KU—K-State basketball game in front of Sport Shack,” Conkling said. “I also remember the sidewalk sales, the 3v3 basketball tournament, and the street concerts, which almost always included King Midas.”

This year’s weekend-long-event will have a combination of former Hutch Fall Fest activities and traditional Hutch Fest events.

“It’s a mix of new and traditional and a collection of what the community is telling us they want out of their celebration,” Conkling said.

Rod Run 2012 Hutch Fest
Rod Run at the 2012 Hutch Fest. Photo Credit: Hutchinson Festivals Inc.

Hutch Fest was the event of the summer in its prime, normally surrounding the Fourth of July holiday. Although many traditional activities are coming back this year, there will also be some new elements added to the event.

“After time away, people are ready for a celebration of the Salt City, and we want to celebrate that. Doing it, though, comes with great preparation and recognition that we live in 2023, not the 1980s or 1990s when Hutch Fest was in its glory days,” Conkling said. “So, we adapt and take into consideration what residents want now versus what they still want from back then.”

Conkling shared that Hutchinson is in need of a community celebration like Hutch Fest and referenced the success of the 150th Celebration of Hutchinson in August of 2022.

“It’s a time where we as a community can unite and celebrate where we are, where we came from, but also move forward in what we want as city residents in the future,” Conkling said. “We owe it to our residents to have a top-notch quality-of-life celebration that isn’t cost-prohibitive, and everyone feels celebrated.”

Hutch Rec Marketing Manager Loribeth Reynolds has many fond memories of Hutch Fest and is excited to celebrate along with her community once again.

Hutch Fest Throwback Photo
Hutch Rec throwback photo of the Ice Cream Social. Photo Credit: Loribeth Reynolds

“As I reflect on the nostalgia of Hutch Fest it becomes clear to me that it was not just an annual event; it was a bridge connecting my family and to the wonderful tapestry that is my hometown,” Reynolds said. “One of the most enchanting aspects of Hutch Fest for me was seeing familiar faces everywhere you turned. Whether that be the guiding forces of education in our town who traded their formal demeanor for smiles and hugs, to the backbone of our local economy, the business owners, who’d take a break from their usual roles to celebrate and engage the community. Even as a child, this made a huge impression on me, giving me a sense of belonging and pride.”

Reynolds said this year she is also looking forward to having the stages back in Downtown Hutchinson.

“Our streets will once again sway to the rhythm of both local and renowned artists, creating shared experiences, inspiring conversations, and connecting our community in that special way that open air concerts do,” Reynolds said.

For those attending the street concerts, Reynolds gave a friendly reminder to BYOC — Bring Your Own Chair.

Reynolds believes the event is important to the Hutchinson community because it celebrates the community’s spirit, diversity and aspirations.

“This event holds the power to forge lasting memories, create connections, and remind everyone WHY they choose Hutch,” Reynolds said.

To find more information about Hutch Fest 2023, visit the Hutch Rec website and for updates on events, follow the Hutch Rec’s social media pages as Hutch Fest approaches.