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  • Last modified 155 days ago (June 19, 2019)

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Storm cancels Symphony in Flint Hills

Staff writer

All of the year-round work to plan, set up, and manage the site of the 2019 Symphony in the Flint Hills south of Cottonwood Falls Saturday came to naught early that morning, when a wind storm destroyed four large tents and scattered poles, chairs, and other equipment in every direction.

Executive director Leslie VonHolten said the storm hit at about 3 a.m. Support cords were snapped and poles bent, leaving large tents mangled and shredded on the ground. A food and beverage tent large enough to accommodate 1,000 people was destroyed, as was a patron tent with room for 900 people.

The food tent was set up with chairs and tables and was stocked with food ready to be prepared, all of which was destroyed.

VonHolten said organizers were happy the artwork that was going to be on display was safe in a trailer and untouched by the storm.

The canopy and stage for the Kansas City Symphony performance was on a lower level and was undamaged.

The parking area was about three-fourths of a mile from the event site.

“It was so muddy that cars would have been stuck,” VonHolten said.

Organizers moved the event to Sunday, but after a more thorough investigation and continued threats of bed weather, they canceled it late Saturday afternoon.

More rain at the site Sunday evening bolstered the decision.

VonHolten said the executive board was “heart-broken” over the cancellation. It was the first in the 14-year history of the symphony.

More than 6,000 people had been expected, including 5,000 ticket holders and at least another 1,000 including 700 volunteers, staff, and vendors.

Tickets costing $50 to $95 were sold with the caveat that weather conditions might cause cancellation of the event, in which case, no refunds would be made.

VonHolten said the event insurance did not provide ticket reimbursements.

She acknowledged there is some concern about how the cancellation will influence ticket sales for next year’s event.

“I think it’s a risk,” she said. “A $100 ticket is a sacrifice. However, a surprising number of people have expressed support for the mission and for the Flint Hills. We’re going to work very hard to win people back.”

In comments on social media, most people seemed to support her optimistic outlook. Many understood there would be no refund and hoped the event would continue in future years.

A woman from southern Florida remarked that she and her husband had driven almost 4,000 miles.

“We’ll be the first on the list to buy tickets next year,” she said.

“The Flint Hills isn’t flyover country.”

Representatives with Symphony in the Flint Hills, Inc. had a media briefing at 10 a.m. today at its art gallery in Cottonwood Falls to discuss the damage assessment from the site, the financial impact of the canceled event, and the next steps.

Last modified June 19, 2019

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