Debunking the Old Myth “There’s Nothing to do in Emporia”

Posted on Jan 21, 2020

CVB Staff
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Emporia is committed to providing quality memorable experiences for our visitors. We believe if we achieve that goal people will want to keep coming back. There are lots of good reasons to visit emporia including world class events, a brewery, winery and soon to open distillery, national acts at the historic Granada Theatre, over two dozen local restaurants authentic to our community and a thriving  live music scene. If you’ve never been to Emporia or haven’t been here in years, we invite you come and visit. If you’ve been here and already love us, please come visit again and tell your friends. 

Just to give you an idea of some of the events that happen in Emporia, here’s a brief overview for the year 2020. For dates and times of events and to learn about live music events, go to Emporia’s community calendar.


It may seem like March Madness, but it’s only January with basketball galore. Join in the excitement of ESU Men’s and Women’s basketball plus three high school tournaments:

Starts Jan 20th  Flint Hills League
Starts January 27th  Lyon County League
Starts January 30  Glaciers Edge.


9th  Kick off February with Sunday at White Library, a celebration of the 152nd birthday of “The Sage of Emporia” William Allen White. This year’s program is Sallie White and the Woman Suffrage Movement in Kansas at White Memorial Library.

15th The Sunflower Winter Invitational, a USAG sanctioned trampoline and tumbling competition hosted by Sunflower Gymnastics brings in youth and their families from four states. The event is held in WL White arena in the Civic Auditorium.

15th  Emporia is fortunate to have law enforcement agencies who not only work well together, but are very involved in the community. The 14th Annual Emporia Polar Plunge is presented by the Emporia Police Department and the Lyon Count Sheriff’s Office. The event raises money for Special Olympics Kansas.


1st  Enjoy one of the oldest continuous celebrations of the Patron Saint of Wales. The St. David’s Day Concert is held at the Emporia Presbyterian Church West Campus. This orchestral event has been celebrated since 1888.

7th  The second annual Kansas Miss Amazing pageant will take place at Emporia High School. Emporia hosted the inaugural Kansas Miss Amazing which provides opportunities for girls and women with disabilities to build confidence and self-esteem in a supportive environment. Emporia’s own Brionna Calhoun was name 2019 Pre-Teen representative.

11th – 14th  Join in the excitement of the KSHSAA State Basketball Championship – Class 5A. Both boys and girls teams will shoot it out for the championship.

14th  St. Patrick’s festivities in Emporia are pretty much an all afternoon affair. A lively group of mischief makers in town are responsible for bringing out the green and filling a pot of gold to benefit children of Emporia and Lyon County. Start the day off with the 26th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. At 1:00 pm floats will begin streaming up Commercial from 4th Avenue to 12th Avenue. Stick around for fun and green beer after the parade.

21st & 22nd  The best part about March is the official start of disc golf season. Not that disc golf ever stops in “Disc Golf Disneyland.”  Monkey Island Open is a B-Tier PDGA sanctioned singles disc golf tournament at scenic Peter Pan Park.


Sunday at the Site Series held the second and fourth Sundays, April through October at Red Rocks, the home of famous author, publisher and Pulitzer Prize winner, William Allen White.

2nd – 5th  Excitement for all things Dirty Kanza starts ramping with Dirty Kanza Training Camp. This is a four day training camp for gravel enthusiasts. The focus is on preparing athlete’s mind, body, and machine for the rigors of the Dirty Kanza. There will be educational seminars, plenty of riding in the Flint Hills and great locally sourced food to keep the athletes fueled.

4th  Emporia Main Street’s The Taste is a popular event that allows you to sample from wineries, breweries and distilleries from across Kansas as well as enjoying fares from local restauranteurs and specialty shops.

25th – May 3rd  Bring on the disc golf! Emporia welcomes players with open arms for the Glass Blown Open. GBO is the largest disc golf tournament in the world with 1,700 players participating in all events. Glass Blown Open is hosted by Dynamic Discs and is a PDGA National Tour tournament. Tournament play is April 29 – May 2, and concludes with a downtown block party.

27th  What better way to kick off a world renowned event like the Glass Blown Open than with GBO Beer Fest! Beer Fest is presented by Radius Brewing Company. The 2019 event boasted 30+ different breweries featuring Kansas brewed beer. Like Radius Brewing on Facebook to find out when tickets for Beer Fest go on sale, live music dates, and to see their daily specials and weekly chef’s menu.


May 2nd  Emporia boasts a thriving Hispanic population that is engaged in the community and enjoys sharing and educating others about their culture. The Hispanics of Today and Tomorrow will be hosting a Cinco de Mayo celebration downtown and everyone’s invited. Learn about the Hispanic culture, see the colorful folkloric dancers and enjoy live music and authentic cuisine.

May 2nd – 3rd  Camp Wood is the new starting location for La Grind this year. La Grind is a two day gravel stage race in the Flinthills of Kansas that supports the mission of Handlebars of Hope. There are distance options to choose from including 150 miles – 90 miles Saturday and 60 miles on Sunday. There are also one day options including 60, 40 and 23 miles. Follow LaGrind on Facebook to learn more.

May 16th  Plenty of muscle being shown at the 27th Annual Flatland Cruisers Car Show. Over 100 muscle cars, hot rods, trucks and motorcycles will be on display in downtown Emporia along with some rock & roll music and door prizes for all to enjoy.

May 28th-30th  The Oldest consecutive rodeo in the state of Kansas is just down the road in Strong City. Top professional rodeo contestants compete in traditional rodeo events such as Bareback Riding, Tie-down Roping, Barrel Racing, Steer Wrestling, Saddle Bronc riding, Team roping and Bull Riding at the Flint Hills PRCA Rodeo. A parade, dances and other community activities make this a fun and exciting three day event.

May 29th  Cyclists taking the extreme challenge of the DKXL will begin their adventure on Friday at 3:00 pm. Roll out will be on Mechanic Street on the East side of the DK Expo. Cheer on these brave men and women who will be giving their all and then some to ride 350 miles and cross the finish line in downtown Emporia before the 3:00 am Sunday cut off.

May 30th  Thousand of gravel riders will race through the Flint Hills of Kansas trying to beat the sun during the 15th Annual Dirty Kanza. The signature race, the DK200, is a 200 mile ultra-endurance bicycling challenge. The event starts in front of the historic Granada Theatre at 807 Commercial Street. Riders will roll across the start line under police escort at 6:00 am. Additional races include the DK100, DK50, DK25, and the High School race. Join in the huge finish line party on Commercial Street and cheer riders across the finish line.


Summer is a time of music in Emporia. Enjoy a concert in a Norman Rockwell setting Thursdays in June & July, as the Emporia Municipal Band plays at Fremont Park. Don’t forget your lawn chair or blanket. For family fun, bring your lunch and enjoy a different performance each Wednesday in June at the Kids’ Koncerts at the Emporia Public Library. Enjoy local artists, food and refreshments at Live in the Lot, an outdoor music series Friday evenings in June.

Date to TBA  Artists and Authors in the Garden of Red Rocks Show and Sale

13th  The 2020 signature event for Symphony in the Flint Hills will take place in Wabaunsee County. This event offers a symphonic music experience unlike any other. Relax in the scenic Flint Hills and listen to the Kansas City Symphony under the setting prairie sun.

25th-28th  The United States Amateur Match Play Championships (Singles) hosted by Dynamic Discs will take place in June. Players who win their state bracket are eligible to compete in the Emporia championship.


2nd – 5th  Emporia State University will host the USATF Region 9 Track and Field events at Welch Stadium.

7th – 11th  For the third year in a row, Emporia and Dynamic Discs will host the PDGA Junior Disc Golf World Championships. Junior disc golfers from around the world come to Emporia to compete for titles in their respective classes. Emporia is proud to be the home of 2018 PDGA Junior World Champion Isaiah Esquivel.

18th  Experience the Flint Hills under the light of the full moon. Lunar Kanza is a fun, leisure night-time bike ride conducted under a full moon on the gravel roads surrounding Emporia. Hang out behind Gravel City Adventure and Supply afterward and join the Lunar Kanza Celebration!


6th – 15th The Lyon County Fair brings young and old, city and country, and thrill seekers and observers together for a weeks worth of fun and competition. From carnival rides, livestock shows, concerts, demolition derby to funnel cakes, you will find tons of stuff to do at the fair.

15th  Dynamic Discs hosts the Emporia 4 by 9 Relay Disc Golf Tournament. New!

21st – 23rd  Celebrate the grass cattle industry for which the Flint Hills region is well known at Flint Hills Beef Fest. Activities include a cattle contest, Ranch Feed, Ranch Rodeo, steak dinner and entertainment.


5th  On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, head to Emporia for the wildly popular Halfway to Everywhere Music Festival. Last year 30 bands appeared on four stages in the downtown area. All new acts will be appearing this year, so get in on the good times! H2E is presented by Kansas Free for Arts. Oh, did we mention the concerts are FREE?! Yes indeed!

11th – 12th  If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a fun family event, look in the parking lot of Bluestem Farm & Ranch Supply. Wildlife Appreciation & Conservation Days takes place Friday and Saturday with local conservation groups, manufacturers reps, vendor booths, demos, activities and drawings.

12th  Buy and sell collectibles, antiques, artwork, crafts, food & everything else – including the kitchen sink! Great American Market, presented by Emporia Main Street, is is an all day event with food, refreshments and music. Fun for everyone!

17th – 20th  Dynamic Discs is hosting the United States Amateur Match Play Championships (Doubles) in September. Players who win their state bracket are eligible to compete in the Emporia championship.


3rd – 4th  Be a participator or be a spectator at the second annual Emporia Ladies Open in Peter Pan Park. Presented by Dynamic Discs.

3rd  The 2nd Annual No Coast Film festival will take place at the historic Emporia Granada Theatre. No Coast is a FREE short film festival whose mission is to connect people through great films, lively conversation and a shared cultural experience.

10th  Radius Open disc golf Tournament at Peter Pan Park

11th Dynamic Discs Open at Jones West & Jones East

21st – 24th  ESU Homecoming Celebration is an annual tradition that includes Hornet football, a parade, musical, golf tournament, bonfire, the Black and Gold Gala and much more.

30th  Emporia will be hosting the KSHSAA Volleyball State Championship, 1A Div 2, at White Auditorium.

31st  Join us downtown for the annual Dias de los Muertos celebration. Day of the Dead is a time when families gather to honor and remember deceased loved ones. Activities include a parade, face painting, street vendors, food vendors, games, and a movie.

Every October, things get spooky with Eek Town Haunted Historic Tours. Visitors can take a self-guided behind the scenes tour of historic downtown buildings and learn about the city’s colorful history. Click her for Haunted Historic Tour ticket information.


2nd – 11th As the founding city of Veterans Day, Emporia hosts a multi-day celebration, the All Veterans Tribute, recognizing and honoring veterans. Events include a parade, memorial service, veteran artist exhibit, and banner walk, Freedom Fest with options for a  40-mile or 16-mile gravel bike ride, 5K walk/run, Spur Ride, and a disc golf tournament and much more.

28th  We invite everyone to come shop Emporia on Small Business Saturday. There’s always something fun happening that day such as merchant discounts, an elf hunt and chestnuts roasting on an open fire, to mention a few.


1st  Head to Commercial Street on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and kick off the holiday season with the 43rd Annual Emporia Community Christmas Parade hosted by the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce & Convention and Visitors Bureau. A dedication and lighting ceremony and music begins at 6:15 pm and the parade starts at 7:00 pm. Plenty of beautiful lights and floats to see, plus a visit from Santa all the way from the North Pole!

Enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations in downtown Emporia with Holiday Carriage Rides on Thursdays in December.

Go to the community calendar for information on these events, live music opportunities and more.

CVB Staff
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