Farewell, Country Stampede. Hope you’ll come back someday.
The country music festival, which has operated at Tuttle Creek State Park just north of Manhattan for 23 years, announced Thursday that it’s moving to Topeka. The new home will be at a racetrack in the capital city.
That’s a major blow to Manhattan. The event drew tens of thousands of fans to our region every year, filling hotel rooms and giving certain aspects of the local economy a much-needed shot in the arm during the slow times of summer. The Topeka location means that the business will shift to that community, meaning the loss of millions of dollars over time here.
We’re sure that Stampede has solid reasons of its own for moving. This year, it had to switch locations temporarily because of flooding at Tuttle Creek, and that obviously became the impetus for moving for good. At the moment, we don’t know all the terms of the deal with Topeka, but Stampede is a private business and gets to make decisions on the basis of its bottom line.
Business is business. No hard feelings, at least not toward Stampede itself.
In fact, we’re grateful for the 23-year run. It was beneficial to our community, and we have to assume that fans, performers and the Stampede itself benefited. Otherwise the whole thing would have dried up and blown away years ago. We know that some people who never would have known of Manhattan became regular visitors, and that has ripple effects that we can’t even calculate.
There are pluses and minuses to everything, and of course hosting Stampede had its costs, too. The festival meant a spike in some crime and shenanigans, and so forth. There’s always a tradeoff; some people will enjoy the quiet now that it’s gone, we suppose.
But on balance, let’s be serious: Losing Stampede is a big loss.
Topeka is a nice enough place, and we’re also glad that the festival will remain in Kansas. That benefits us economically, too.
And while we wish everybody success, we also can’t help but say this: If it doesn’t work out down the road, Manhattan’s still happy to play host.