By Jared Janzen
HALSTEAD—The Old Settlers Committee is full of fresh faces this year, which means new events are joining the festival’s four-day lineup.
“It’s nice to have good help with new ideas and new energy,” Spokesperson Linsey Farmer said.
Old Settlers kicks off Thursday afternoon and runs full tilt through Sunday afternoon.
One of the new events is the Biggest Little Star Talent Show organized by Claire Clifford, a new committee member. A similar event used to be held during the Brick Street Arts and Crafts Festival.
“She wanted to bring that back, so I think there’s probably not a better person to do that than a school music teacher,” Farmer said. “It’s not just singing. They can do dancing or whatever. All talents are welcome.”
This event will be at 7 p.m., Thursday, at the Kansas Learning Center for Health. There are three age groups, each with a $25 first place prize.
Another new event will be a blitzball tournament organized by new committee members Amy Bickel and John Young.
“We were looking for a fun event for younger kids, like middle school to high school aged boys in particular,” Farmer said. “Blitzball was mentioned by one of our committee member’s kids as a super fun game, so we thought we’d give it a shot.”
The tournament starts at 1 p.m., Saturday, behind the swimming pool, with onsite registration opening at 12:30.
A new burger cooking competition will take the place of the former barbecue contest, which was canceled last year due to lack of entries.
“We decided to change things up a little bit to see if it sparks any new interest,” Farmer said. “I know those cooking shows are really popular. We kind of changed it up at the last minute.”
The burger competition is sponsored by Champs Meats, with eight pounds of hamburger provided to each contestant. Check in begins at 9 a.m., Saturday, at North and Main with judging at noon. Folks can taste the burgers and vote for the people’s choice award.
Old Settlers is introducing a disc golf tournament at the Halstead Middle School course. There’s no set time for the tournament, as participants can simply play anytime Friday or Saturday that suits them.
Scorecards may be picked up Thursday evening at the festival headquarters tent at the learning center. They must be turned back in by 8 p.m., Saturday, to headquarters—, which will move to Main Street on Friday, and Saturday.
Farmer noted that with more new committee members, their kids and their friends, they have more manpower this year to run a headquarters tent, something they haven’t done consistently in the past. She said this used to go over well, as it’s an easy place for people to get their questions answered.
This 17 strong committee has grown from last year and that doesn’t even count additional sub-committee members or outside entities that run events.
“It’s nice to have a large committee, though, because then you can disperse the responsibility,” Farmer said.
Clifford has taken over as secretary and Bickel is helping handle the social media aspect. Jennifer Linton has joined as the new treasurer. Other new members include Joe McGinn, Alyssa McGinn, Shawna Will, Charilyn Litton, Holly Baalman and Katie Baxter.
Diana Schutte, Aurora Farmer, Dayna Ingalls, Brier McCloud, Becky Thompson, Brandi Rice and Alan Weber round out the committee.
The theme for Old Settlers is “Better Together,” which Farmer said was a way to honor the Halstead High School All-School Reunion happening Saturday.
“We kind of went with ’90s artwork,” she added.
She noted Old Settlers always sees bigger turnouts when the reunion happens every fifth year.
“Typically, I think it makes attendance quite a bit higher,” she said.
A long slate of traditional events will be back this year. Among the highlights will be the Little Great Race, Great Race cornhole tournament and mud volleyball all on Friday night, the parade and car show Saturday morning, the carnival on Main Street Saturday evening, fireworks Saturday night, the community picnic at Riverside Park for Sunday lunch and the kids musical presentation of “Schoolhouse Rock!” Sunday afternoon.
Farmer noted that she had about seven teams signed up so far for both the Great Race and the Little Great Race. The deadline has passed to order team shirts, but it’s not too late to sign up a squad.
“Teams can still sign up all the way down to the day of, but they’ll just have to have their own shirt and identify as a team,” she said.
The Friday night kickball tournament will return for its second year. Farmer said this went over really well in 2021.
Farmer added she was really excited for the live entertainment this year, especially the opener on Saturday night, Hillary Moore.
“She’s super sweet and I love that she’s from Halstead,” Farmer said.
There’s no excuse for going hungry at Old Settlers, this year.
“I think we’ll have more food court options than we’ve had in years previous,” she said.
Food vendors who are signed up include Cappuccino Connections, Chunky Chet’s, Face Stuffers Food Wagon, Fun Time Concessions, Halstead American Legion, Ken N Barbie’z Rolling Diner, Kona Ice, Meat Rubbers BBQ, Salted Creamery, Taco Mikes, Taters N Toppings Food Truck, Watt’s Cooking and Catering, and Wok Hei Noodle House.
For more information on what to expect this weekend, check out Old Settlers schedule printed in this week’s newspaper, visit halsteadoldsettlersks.com, or follow Halstead Old Settlers on Facebook.