The last time the Historic Delano District held a Fall Fair was 2003, when the neighborhood west of the river in downtown Wichita, Kansas, celebrated the completion of its streetscaping project and new clock tower.
The 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail was cause for another celebration, said Delano volunteers Nancy Lawrence and Mary Lou Rivers. “Wichita was the largest cattle town on the Chisholm Trail,” Lawrence said. “About 60,000 head of cattle came through,” Rivers said of the drives that started in Fort Worth and steered cattle north to market during the 1860s through 1880s.
“This event is a celebration of the Delano area’s role on the Chisholm Trail,” Lawrence continued. “East of the river was known as the genteel side of Wichita and west of the river was Delano, the rowdy area where the cowboys would blow off steam after two months of being on the trail.”
The two are among a group of volunteers and business owners planning to celebrate that rowdy legacy with the Delano Fall Fair - A Chisholm Trail Celebration on Oct. 6-8, 2017. It’s a free, family event where you can step back in time and stroll down the streets of Delano among cowboys and saloon girls, eat a chuckwagon meal and watch a Western parade. There will be a wide array of things to interest young and old alike: a horse parade, old-fashioned games, horseless carriages, an 1880s Baseball game, a Civil War encampment, stage entertainment and a variety of foods.
There will be nods to Delano’s disorderly past – brothel tokens will be sold as souvenirs and there will be a reenactment of the Running of the Doves, a form of entertainment on Sunday afternoons in which saloon girls would strip down, and at the sound of a pistol, race from the river back to the saloons, accompanied by the whooping and hollering cowboys. Because the fair will be family-friendly, the saloon girls will be wearing bloomers during the event’s race from the river.
If you haven’t visited Wichita or Delano in a while, the Delano Fall Fair is a great time to explore this revitalized neighborhood. Shops, restaurants and bars will be welcoming fair-goers, and in addition to the great restaurants that line Douglas in Delano, there will be fair-style food vendors selling items like turkey legs and roasted ears of corn.
Free parking is available at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium and on residential streets south of Douglas.
Schedule of events:
Friday, Oct. 6
6-9 p.m. - Campfire ghost stories: Truth is stranger than fiction! Sit around the campfire and hear the stories of real Chisholm Trail cowboys and early Wichita settlers and their lives on the frontier of the Old West. Hot dogs, s’mores, hot chocolate and apple cider available. “If you’ve been to our ghost stories in historic Delano, you’ll want to come to this,” Lawrence said. “Instead of touring buildings like we’ve been doing for the past 11 years with our ghost story tours, we’re going to have this event on the stage where people will be portraying characters from our history.”
Saturday, Oct. 7:
10 a.m.-6 p.m. - All-day entertainment: Vendors, cowboy food, Mexican fiesta, old-fashioned games, storytellers, horses and longhorns.
Noon - Western parade: A western parade of horses and horse-drawn vehicles from the clock tower east to McLean Boulevard and south to Maple Street.
6-9 p.m. - Concert: Del Shields & Suzy Bogguss on the main stage
Sunday, Oct. 8:
11 a.m.-noon - Cowboy church service
Noon-5 p.m. - All-day entertainment: Vendors, cowboy food, Mexican fiesta, old-fashioned games, storytellers, horses and longhorns.
1 p.m. - Running of the Doves: Watch as the saloon girls are carried down McLean from Douglas, part way to Maple where they will strip down to their bloomers and race back to Douglas. Cowboys will hoop and holler for the ladies and the race winner receives a prize.
2 p.m. - Ice cream social: Enjoy old-fashioned ice cream while being entertained by a Jesse Chisholm look-a-like contest and beard & mustache contest.
3:30-5 p.m. - Concert: Prairie Rose Rangers on the main stage.
About Visit Wichita
Visit Wichita markets the greater Wichita area as a major convention and tourism destination, thereby enhancing the economic development of the city, county, region and state. Visit Wichita is led by president and CEO Susie Santo, and in 2016 travel and tourism contributed more than $1 billion in economic impact to the greater Wichita area.