Recovering Devastated Community To Honor

Heroes help make recovery from disaster possible.

Harveyville, Kansas, was stricken by tragedy when a February 28, 2012, tornado destructed the rural Wabaunsee County community, leaving one citizen dead.

But, within seconds of devastation, assistance arrived from unbeknownst and has continued coming until much of the town’s damage has been restored.

There is no shortage of appreciation from the townspeople, and they’re doing their small part to say thanks during the 75th annual Harveyville Fair with the theme “Heroes Near & Far” this weekend, September 28-29.

“We can’t begin to name everyone who came out to help after the tornado, so we have planned our annual Harveyville Fair to pay just a small token of appreciation for all that everyone has done for our community,” said Jana Phillips of the fair’s promotion committee.

“The challenge is narrowing down who you call a hero. We were, and continue to be, so blessed here in Harveyville,” evaluated Dustin Kuntz, a leading citizen of the community.

“It is almost impossible for me to rank in my mind the relevance of the sacrifices that were made and given here. The ones that stick out to me change by the week, day and sometimes minute,” added Kuntz, who with his dad, Chuck, operates Harveyville Seed Company.

“Today, one that brings me a smile is a young expecting mother of two who took refuge in the bathroom of her apartment. She literally threw herself on top of her children in the bathtub to save them. She is scheduled for delivery of her new baby next week,” Kuntz continued.

“It really sticks out in my mind about the mass of people who arrived on the scene in the early days to do anything that needed done. More than 1,600 people showed up to volunteer over four days, not including local people and paid emergency personnel,” Kuntz credited.

“A great story is the Methodist Church as they are continuing to serve the community with a food pantry and ministry without a building. I find it inspiring that despite not having enough money to rebuild, they are still giving to others first.  It really touches my heart, obviously,” Kuntz added.

“That’s why we want to recognize everybody this weekend as well as all of the other heroes including those in the military serving our country, so we can have our precious freedom, and the opportunity to help others when they are in need,” Phillips pointed out.

Of the many activities scheduled at Harveyville Friday and Saturday, the most significant one would have to be the 12:45, Saturday afternoon, Harveyville Memorial Dedication Ceremony in memory of Rick Slade, who lost his life during the tornado.

Almost impossible to list everything planned for the Harveyville Fair, but there’ll be a variety of fun activities for all, including a marathon softball tournament starting Friday evening through Sunday.

On Friday evening, strong person competitions are scheduled, and the Topeka High Drumline is to entertain before an outdoor movie.

Inflatable rides, a petting zoo, frog and turtle races, an operating train, Peaches the Clown and a scavenger hunt are among the Saturday youth fun times.

There’ll be an alpaca display, veterinarian tips for pet owners, nail driving contest, spray paint artist, foot races, wheelbarrow races, photo booth, skillet toss, hayrack rides, Whiplash Pro Wrestling, renegade mower pull, water balloon throw, egg toss, bubblegum blowing contest, hayrack rides and “Zumba” instruction.

The kiddie and pet parade at 1 o’clock Saturday precedes the main parade at 2 p.m., which is expected to draw entries from throughout the Midwest.

A 7 o’clock ice cream social kicks off Saturday evening entertainment by “Close Enough.”

“We want to recognize all of the heroes in our lives during the fair weekend, so please be sure to invite your heroes to come out and join in the celebration,” Phillips welcomed.