As people begin to get back out for food and fun following a year of event cancellations, many may look to Hays for their 2021 summer entertainment.
Whether you’re a sports fanatic, music lover, art enthusiast or beer buff, events on the calendar in Hays this summer promise to excite. And Melissa Dixon, director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau, said it is good to be back.
“It feels wonderful,” she said. “It has been quiet for a long time, and since Memorial Day, we have had a steady stream of travelers. It’s been so nice to hear from people, hear what their road trips are like, direct them to places around Hays — our attractions and our restaurants. And they’re coming from all over.”
Dixon spoke with the Hays Daily News to provide a rundown of summer events, which include music and beer festivals, baseball games, a cycling tour and an art walk, among others.
In June, the Hays Arts Council will hold its Summer Art Walk downtown on June 18. Dozens of shops and galleries will stay open late, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. that day, to welcome visitors.
June also marks the start of the “Bach’s Lunch on the Bricks” series, which takes place the first, third and fifth Friday of each month through August. The lunch series features a free one-hour downtown concert that starts just after noon. Attendees may either purchase a $10 box lunch on site or bring their own food to enjoy.
In July, the Wild West Festival is expected to return for Fourth of July weekend. The event lasts July 1-4 and is expected to feature such acts as BlackHawk, Shenandoah, FireHouse and Logan Mize. Tickets for the festival are $20-150, depending on the entrance package.
“It’s a $20 ticket for three nights of concerts, so it’s the best deal around,” Dixon said. “The committee really tries to keep it family friendly. That’s why the tickets are so cheap.”
“Tour die Kapellen,” which is German for “Tour of the Chapels,” is a cycling tour on the calendar for July 10. It takes riders on a tour through Ellis County to see historic churches, listen to live music at each stop and finish with a hearty German lunch in downtown Hays.
Then, in August, Hays will host the downtown Brews On The Bricks Craft Beer Festival. The event is expected to last 12:30-5 p.m. Though VIP tickets are sold out, general admission tickets may still be purchased for $45.
Throughout the summer, the Hays Larks, a summer collegiate baseball team, will take to Larks Park, for a series of games. Their season kicked off Friday.
RPM Speedway, 1344 Fairground Road, will also be home to a number of races in coming months.
Other upcoming events may be found on the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau website, at visithays.com/calendar — though Dixon notes they aren’t the only organization helping organize summer events.
“We’re so lucky that there are a lot of different groups that put these on,” she said, including the Hays Arts Council and the Downtown Hays Development Corporation.
According to Dixon, hotel traffic in Hays is starting to pick back up after a dismal 2020. She expects summer events to accelerate that trend and contribute to the local economy.
“In 2019, our guest, overnight visitor economic impact was $43 million, and that’s only our overnight visitors,” she said. “It absolutely fuels our economy, and we notice when those visitors aren’t there.”
Dixon hopes 2021 brings a spike in economic impact, as people get back to spending time with friends and family with COVID-19 rates declining.
“People want to make up for lost time, and they’re planning those vacations,” she said. “We hope it will rebound quickly and surpass 2019. That would be great.”