The Wild West Fest planning committee expects this year’s Main Street parade to be one of the largest in recent history. The theme is “150 Years Out West,” in celebration of the Sesquicentennial anniversaries that occur this year for the City of Hays, Historic Fort Hays, and Ellis County. The parade will take place at 10 a.m. July 1.

Sandi Maier has been working on the Wild West Festival committee for nine years, and has served as event coordinator for two years.

“This year the City of Hays and the Hays Convention & Visitors Bureau have teamed up with the Wild West Festival to increase the prize money for the best parade entry. We would love to see many entrants this year, to make this one of the largest parades ever for our community,” Maier said.

For the 2017 parade, the first-place winner will receive $200, the second-place winner will receive $175, and the third-place winner will receive $150.

The parade will include appearances by special guests as well.

Members of the Hays Community Theatre have plans to walk the parade with a historical Wild West performance to remind citizens of Hays’ early rough and rowdy days.

The Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard from Fort Riley also plans to attend. The troopers of this unit, as well as their horses, will be outfitted in Civil War era uniforms and equipment. The unit will also perform a demonstration at the FHSU Rodeo grounds that will be free to the public.

Community organizations can register for the parade online at www.wildwestfestival.com. There is no fee for parade entries. Entries must be received on or before June 21.

The 23rd annual Wild West Festival is set for June 28 to July 4. Headline performers include Chris Janson, Mark Chestnutt, and Resurrection: A JOURNEY Tribute. The event’s grand finale is a fireworks show at 10 p.m. July 4.

For more information on the Wild West Festival or parade, email info@wildwestfestival.com or call (785) 623-4476.