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Busy weekend ahead in Hays

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

For people who need a jump start on their Christmas spirit, an abundance of local events is slated for the upcoming weekend. And although it might be physically impossible to take in every offering, it could prove a worthy challenge for those willing to attempt it.

With temperatures forecast in the 50s, the 12th annual FrostFest Illuminated Parade promises to be a big draw for spectators.

According to Downtown Hays Development Corp. Executive Director Traci Konrade, the parade has 40 entrants, an increase in participation from last year.

"You get thousands of people lining the streets," Konrade said of the parade. "And it's just such a cool event.

"This is just one event that everybody looks forward to every year, and so do we. We're excited to see everybody turn out, and hopefully the weather cooperates."

Hays holiday traditions continue with Christmas Past at Historic Fort Hays from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bob Wilhelm, superintendent of Historic Fort Hays, said it is his hope parade-goers will continue their evening by joining the fort's volunteers in the historic setting.

"We'll have plenty of places for them to warm up," Wilhelm said.

The Christmas open house at the Ellis County Historical Society Museum will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday. With four musical entertainment groups, Santa and Mrs. Claus, refreshments and free admission, the event also is hoped to coincide with the Hays Arts Council Winter Gallery Walk.

The gallery walk, with 14 locations throughout Hays and the downtown area, will spotlight new exhibits and opening receptions from 7 to 9 p.m. On display at the Hays Arts Council, the 29th annual Five State Photography Competition and Exhibition features artists from surrounding states.

April M. Watson, associate curator of photography at Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, served as judge for the contest. Of the 487 works submitted, 168 were selected by Watson.

"My selection process began with the ever-important gut reaction -- when confronted with almost 500 photographs of all varieties and genres," Watson wrote in her juror's statement. "I responded to those works that avoided cliche, sparked the imagination and remained compelling beyond a first glance."

Opening night of the Five State Photography Exhibition typically brings travelers from eastern Kansas, Colorado and Oklahoma.

"People are driving two, three, four hours just for the huge celebration of photography as a creative artistic medium," said Hays Arts Council Director Brenda Meder. "I think it's going to be another amazing night."

For those looking for a musical experience, Friday evening's Fort Hays State University band concert will feature a world premiere of the original composition, "Dawn of the Argent Crusade" conducted by its composer Nathan Froebe, graduate student and native of Columbus.

Froebe described his composition as "loosely based on one of the story's presented in World of Warcraft," a popular online role-playing game.

The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center and will feature the symphonic winds, under the direction of Lane Weaver, and the wind ensemble, directed by Jeff Jordan.