By Benjamin Whitener
Staff reporter

Funnel cakes, rides, music, parades and beer. Arkalalah, in its 78th year, will be bigger than ever.

Arkalalah celebrates the heritage of Arkansas City and Cowley County. The first festival was in 1928 and the term Arkalalah was used because it was a combination of Ark for Arkansas City and alalah which is a Native American term for good time.

The festivities begin on Oct. 24 with the first clue for the medallion hunt published in the Arkansas City Traveler.  Each day a new clue about the medallion’s location will be released until someone finds it. The individual who discovers it can take the medallion to Grave’s Drug Store in Arkansas City and claim the $500 prize.

Food booths will open at 11 a.m. Oct. 28-31. They serve everything ranging from funnel cakes to fried green tomatoes and fried Twinkies.  There will also be a refreshment garden located at 108 S. Summit next to the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce. It will be open from 12 noon to 8 p.m. Oct. 30 and 12 noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 31. The Kiwanis pancake feed takes place on Oct. 31 from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking garage to the west of Union State Bank on Fifth Avenue. Angie Turney, co-secretary of the Arkalalah Committee, said, “It’s all about the food.”

This year’s theme is Celebrate 78, Bring on the Bands. This theme marks the special occasion of the Kansas State University Marching Band joining the festivities. The Kansas State Marching Band will march down Summit Street at 2 p.m. in the “Big Parade” on Oct. 31 and in the night show at Curry Field later that evening. They will be performing “Wildcat Victory” and “Wildcat March” for the parade, and selections from Journey and Chicago for the night show.

The Arkansas City High School Marching Bulldog Band and the community of Cowley County have been raising money to bring the Kansas State Marching Band to the festival. The goal was to raise between $16,000 and $20,000. Hans Judd, director of bands for Arkansas City Middle School, said that they wanted to raise enough money to pay for transportation and meals for the Kansas State Marching Band and to give them a little extra on top of that. Judd is in charge of the fundraising and logistical work of bringing the Kansas State Marching Band to Arkansas City.

Chris VanGilder, director of bands for Arkansas City High School, is glad that the Kansas State Marching Band is coming to the festival. He said, “It’s been something we wanted to do for years.”

VanGilder said that it will be a good educational experience not only for band students, but for the community as a whole to be able to see a world class group like the Kansas State Marching Band.

Other activities include a carnival with all you can ride night on Oct. 28 from 6 to 10 p.m. The all you can ride pass cost $15 at the carnival. The pass cost $12 if purchased at a ticket outlet before 12 noon on Oct. 28. Ticket outlets include the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce, Home National Bank, Corner Bank and Union State Bank, all of Arkansas City.  Tickets can be purchased in Winfield at the Winfield Chamber of Commerce, but must be picked up by 5 p.m. Oct. 27.

U.S. Cellular is hosting two free movie nights. On Oct. 29 Monsters vs. Aliens will be shown. On Oct. 30 Coraline will be shown. The movies are scheduled to start at dusk at the southeast corner of Washington Avenue and Summit Street.

Benjamin Whitener is a junior majoring in digital art. You may e-mail him at benjamin.whitener@sckans.edu.