By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — The sun shone its bright rays upon the Newkirk community Oct. 12, and with a temperature in the upper 60s and a light wind, it was a perfect day to be outdoors enjoying the community. For many residents, that is exactly what they did, converging on the Kay County Courthouse parking lot to enjoy the fall afternoon and raise money for the Kay County Amphitheater project, planned for the southeast corner of the Courthouse Square.
The amphitheater project began in 2016 when a committee was formed to bring such a project to Newkirk. After a number of meetings with Kay County commissioners, it was formally approved and the fundraising of the project began.
The intent of the project has been to create a gathering place to downtown Newkirk that could be used by the whole community.
“We want a place for Kay County citizens to have a concert, have a private wedding, a promenade, if they want it,” said committee member Kim Shanks. “The possibilities for the amphitheater are endless.”
A portion of the funding has already been raised, but there still is a way to go, which led to the fall festival at the Courthouse, to generate more of those funds and bring more awareness of and interest to the project.
While the event officially began about 3 p.m., preparations actually began that morning, starting about 9 a.m. when committee members began selling pumpkins, including large carving pumpkins, pie pumpkins and small decorative pumpkins and squash.
“The early part of the day we had sold some pumpkins. Apple Market helped us out with that,” said committee member Brady Barnes. “All the proceeds went to the amphitheater. We had over 100 pumpkins, and sold all but five.”
Apple Market was not alone in their support, either. The Newirk co-ed cheer team provided face painting, while Newkirk Main Street helped the children paint their pumpkins. Equity Bank had several booths set up for children’s games in the grass.
There was also plenty of food, inducing from Dapper Dogs Gourmet Hotdogs, Navajo Tacos and Country Road Barbecue, which also provided barbecue at Charlie Adams day Sept. 14.
Gator Wrap made the committee a “future home” banner, and they were also able to award several contest winners: Braxton Huster, who won a fall sign, and Blayz McGaha, who won $50.
The temperature dropped as the sun set, leading to a sellout of hot chocolate, but that didn’t stop the crowd from flooding to the Courthouse, and the crowd swelled as the Arkansas City Parks and Recreation Department provided a special showing of Halloween movie “Hocus Pocus.”
“Despite the cold, we had a good turnout,” Shanks said.
The event was a success, and about $825 was raised, bringing the total to $39,824, with $75,176 left to reach the needed $115,000 for construction of the project. While that number may seem high, organizers are happy with the event, and look forward to more events with the public to continue to increase support for the project.
“I think the event served its purpose, to raise awareness that were trying to put the amphitheater downtown,” Barnes said. “I think this is a very important for our community to have that.”
Donations can be made to the project through Newkirk Main Street, 116 N. Main, with Amphitheater in the memo section of checks.
“It was great to see all the people out on a Saturday. The kids really had a good time,” Shanks said.