No fire or stormy weather could stop this year's Great Migration Rally, held recently at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms, northeast of Great Bend.
The center's third migration rally was planned to roll through Cheyenne Bottoms and end at Barton Community College's Camp Aldrich. That was before several days of sunny weather and clear skies gave way to high winds, scattered rain and cold, and before Camp Aldrich dining hall burned to the ground.
"We were very pleased with the turnout but had a lot of adjustments to make at the last minute," said KWEC manager Curtis Wolf.
Center staff had to scramble at the last minute to plot a new migration route.
In the previous two rallies, 65 people at most attended. Wolf's goal this year was to draw more than a hundred, but Isaiah the golden eagle and his hunting partner Nate Mathews, a Wichita falconer, and the abundance of donated prizes helped draw 200 preregistered participants and 40 volunteers.
Many of the outdoor activities were modified and brought inside, along with the migration route stops, and the Hoisington Knights of Columbus Hall stood in for Camp Aldrich.
Wolf received a lot of excellent feedback from very satisfied participants even though the weather and unfortunate fire caused havoc.
"We had incredible support from sponsors and excellent volunteers," said Wolf. "We couldn't do an event this size without those volunteers."
Sponsors that made the Great Migration Rally happen are B&B Metal Arts, Barton Community College, Bauer & Pike LLC, Best Western Angus Inn, Cabela's, Carol, Long Pottery, Coleman, Community Bank of the Midwest, Dillons, Ellinwood Packing Plant, Inc., First Kansas Bank, Gander Mountain, Great Bend Convention and Visitors Bureau, JanSport, Karole Erikson, Kindscher's Mule Barn, Linda Ganstrom, Papa Murphy's Take &, Bake Pizza, Pizza Hut, Playa Azul, Robert Penner, Rodeway Inn, Sue's BBQ and Catering, Walmart, Waters True Value and Historic Wolf Hotel.
The Great Migration Rally is held every other year, the next one being in Spring 2016. The Center hopes for better weather next time.