Strike up the band: Festival returns to Athletic Park

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Keith Woolery directed the Newton Mid Kansas Symphony Orchestra to start the orchestra's concert at the Sand Creek Summer Daze in Athletic Park July 8.

A few dozen people gathered in Athletic Park on July 8 for a ceremony to honor a hero, heat the Newton Mid-Kansas Orchestra play and take in a 1980's movie after dark fell. 

It was the opening night of Sand Creek Summer Daze in Athletic Park — an occasion with a meaning not lost on Richard Stinett, mayor of Newton. 

"Oooh! This is wonderful, just wonderful," Stinnett said. "There are people here. This is worth [all the work put in by festival organizers]. It is going to take a while to get back to completely normal, but this is completely worth. it It is pretty cool."

He went on to honor a local hero before Keith Woolery started  up the orchestra for a concert. 

The night marked, according to local leaders and emergency management officials, the first festival to happen in Newton in the wake of pandemic COVID-19. The pandemic led to the cancellation of the festival last year — along with a number of other large events. 

The festival continued on Friday. 

Saturday a full plate of activities awaits, from a golf chipping compeition; low rider parade; lawn games including   Giant Jenga, Corn Hole, Ladder Golf, Washers, Lawn Bocce, Putt-Skee, Wall Ball, Giant Connect 4, Bean Bag Pipes, Giant Dominoes, Kerplunk, Tic Tac Toe and Lawn Twister; a food court, a special area for children and a car show are included in a full list activities. 

Members of the Kansas National Guard Armory in Newton presented the colors to start the Sand Creek Summer Daze July 8.

Music begins at 10 a.m. with Mariachi Los Reyes will be on the Farm Bureau Stage. At 11:30 a.m., magician Eric Vaughn will perform. Vaughn was named “Magician of the Year by the Kansas City ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in 2001.

At 12:30 p.m. with local favorites The Sassanachs will perform on the Koehn Painting Barbecue Stage. This high-energy band has a heavy Irish influence with other international influences.

Hypnotist Heather Jay blends comedy and hypnosis in an interactive 3 p.m. performance on the Farm Bureau Stage.

The evening concert on July 10 will feature The Astronauts at 7 p.m. in the bandshell at Athletic Park. The Astronauts is a high-energy dance band that covers songs by artists including Duran Duran, Madonna, Van Halen, The Go-Gos and more. Their performance will be followed by Wichita-based fire performing group Phlox Fire, which uses props to enhance their craft called Flow Art.

The festival will wrap up on July 11 with Rising Above the Creek in Athletic Park, a Christian concert featuring Accrostic at 2 p.m., The Gathering Collaborative at 3 p.m. and Evidence of Journey at 4:30 p.m

Festival buttons are $5. For a full list of activities and events, visit

Several dozen festival goers made their way to Athletic Park for the first night of festival activities in the park July 8.