In 24 years, Bob Swift has spent many hours on the Wild West Festival grounds, but he’s never actually watched one of the concerts.
Swift is the last of the original Wild West Fest committee members still active on the six-member committee.
“I guess the enjoyment is when you see people smile and have a good time,” Swift said Tuesday morning as he and two volunteers worked in Municipal Park preparing parking areas for the vendors who will fill the area by Wednesday morning.
“Once they fill it up, it will look like an event,” he said.
The park has changed for the better in part because of the annual festival, Swift said as he looked around the grounds.
“We do take great pride in what we’ve done for this park because it can be used 51 weeks out of the year by the public,” he said.
The Wild West Festival committee has paid for or helped pay for improvements such as the concrete slab for the concert stage that is also used at Oktoberfest and other community events, as well the two shelters in the park.
Swift also talked about the cooperation throughout town, such as the city mowing the park prior to the concert to coordinated events in town such as the free swim at the Hays Aquatic Park and use of Fort Hays State University land for launching the fireworks on Juy 4.
“We’re really blessed in this community to have this opportunity,” he said.
Swift said he tells people there are three reasons the festival is a success — the many corporate sponsorships, the public’s support through buying tickets and the more than 40 volunteers who help set up and run the event.
With the 25th anniversary coming in 2019, Swift said it would be nice to have a big celebration.
“We’d love to if we make money this year,” he said.
The entertainment lineup could make that possible.
“This year is pretty big with Sara Evans,” Swift said.
Hotel California is the only Eagles tribute band endorsed by the Eagles, and Cody Johnson is an up-and-coming talent, Swift said.
Swift said he’ll stay on the committee at least through next year, and hopefully beyond.
“I probably will stay until I just can’t do something. It’s fun,” he said.