Beef Empire Days kicks off 50th anniversary today

By SCOTT AUST, FCEDC Director of Communications

Beef Empire Days kicks off its 50th iteration with a boot-scootin’ outdoor concert tonight at the Clarion Inn parking lot featuring two up and comers in the country music scene.

Gate opens at 6 p.m. with the opening performer, Hunter Hutchinson, taking the stage at 6:30 p.m. followed by the headliner, William Michael Morgan.

Morgan is best known for his national breakout hit, “I met a Girl.” According to promotional information, Morgan began playing at age 14 in Mississippi honky-tonks that had “everything but the chicken wire.” Hutchinson, no slouch himself, released his first full-length album, “What Do You Say” in 2015, and is one of the top artists in the “Red Dirt” music scene, a genre associated with a distinctive Texas/Oklahoma sound.

Stacey Carr, Beef Empire Days executive director, said tickets are $15 and it is a family event.

“So bring your kids. It’s outside, bring your lawn chairs. It’s going to be a really fun time,” she said. “We wanted this to be a fun time for everyone.”

Ticket locations include Baker Boot; Colleen’s Trophies, Awards & Gifts; Clarion Inn; the Beef Empire Days Office; or online at www.beefempiredays.com.

Carr said Beef Empire Days is chock full of fun things to do this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary event.

“We’re not only having the traditional events and things we’ve done in the past, we’re giving away a 2018 GMC Sierra, fully loaded,” she said, as well as a Treager Grill

Beef Empire Days is partnering with J&J Autoplex on the giveaway. Carr said tickets for the pickup drawing are $20 and the ticket can also be presented at various local businesses for special discounts during Beef Empire Days. Participating businesses should have a Beef Empire Days seal on display. The drawing for the truck and the grill will be June 9 at the Beef, Beer & Boots event in Stevens Park. You do not need to be present to win.

The Beef, Beer & Boots event is one that Carr is excited about. It’s something new, and harkens back to the street dances that used to be held during Beef Empire Days more than two decades ago.

“It’s a spin off the old street dances. It’s the one thing when I’d go out talking to people that they wanted to see back,” Carr said. “They just love the street dance.”

Carr said there will be food, a beer garden and a music featuring live music by Twin Country, who is reuniting for the first time in 19 years.

“They are one of the bands that always played at Beef Empire Days and they are coming back. We’re really excited about that,” Carr said.

Beef Empire Days was started by John Dohogne, a packing plant general manager, who wanted to find a way to highlight and celebrate the area’s beef industry. The event began with just the Live Show and Carcass Show and grew from there to include a variety of public entertainment and events, food, and education about the beef industry.

Saturday, June 9 will be a “really big community day,” Carr said, with a pancake breakfast in the morning at Stevens Park, followed by the annual parade, Chuckwagons at the Zoo and finishing up with the Beef, Beer & Boots event from 4 to 11 p.m.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

This weekend is also full of events, including the Garden City Open Tennis Tournament; the Ag Women of the Heartland Conference; a Road Run; Poker Run; Softball Tournament; Praise in the Park Concert; and a volleyball tournament. See the Beef Empire Days website or follow them on Facebook for full event information.

In addition, Saturday night will feature the Ranch Rodeo, an event in which traditional working cowboys gather to compete and demonstrate skills they use every day in cattle ranching operations. While there are some similarities to a traditional rodeo, the ranch rodeo events focus on roping, horsemanship and ground work skills involved in real-life ranch work.

Carr emphasized that the Ranch Rodeo is a free event and urged the public to come out and watch. It starts at 7 p.m. at the Finney County Fairgrounds.

“Come out. Bring your family, have a good time!” Carr said.

Industry staples for the event, the live show, Pick 5 and the carcass show are going on next week, as is the cattle working contest, an event that is geared more toward competition between various feed yards than a spectator event.

“We’ve just got tons and tons and tons of stuff going on,” Carr said.

To mark the 50th anniversary, Beef Empire Days also has for sale merchandise including t-shirts and a commemorative belt buckle. See their website for more information and to order.