Dress up and join the week-long celebration in Independence

Newspapers in Independence, Kan., reported that pranksters committed more vandalism during Halloween 1918 than the citizens found tolerable. As a result, city leaders decided a healthy diversion from mean-spirited Halloween antics might be a solution. So they created festivities for "Neewollah" - Halloween spelled backward - as an outlet for young people's autumn energies. What began as a one-day county fair, parade and rodeo has grown into southeastern Kansas' largest celebration the last full week of October.Event:           Neewollah FestivalDates:            Oct. 21-29, 2011Location:      Independence, Kan.Activities during the annual extravaganza include: an artists' alley, a carnival, musical stage production, parade, queen coronation, street acts and top-pick performers. This year, the Real Southern Comedy Tour comes to Neewollah with Southern comedians Vic Henley, Jerry Carroll and Larry Weaver. The festivities typically swell Independence's population from 11,000 to more than 80,000!Tickets for special events, such as the musical production and Comedy Tour, may be purchased in advance online. However, Neewollah organizers encourage families to enjoy the many free events and activities, including the Great Pumpkin Contest, Kiddie Parade and such bandstand performers as ventriloquist Vern Wirka. See the full calendar of events and ticket information.While you're in Independence for Neewollah, check out:
  • This year's annual musical production: "Willy Wonka"
  • Food vendors offering everything from apple fritters and deep-fried Oreos to funnel cakes and turkey legs
  • Elaborately decorated pumpkins on display for the Great Pumpkin Contest
  • More than 30 booths with ample arts and crafts for Christmas shopping
  • The Neewollah Grand Parade, "the largest parade in Kansas," followed by free street acts and a high school marching band competition
  • Samples of contestants' chili at the Chili Cook-off and Fun Day.
Becky Blake is the Director of Tourism Division of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, and has been involved in the Kansas tourism industry for the past 30 years. The TravelKS Blog provides a brief update from Becky each week, featuring communities, events and attractions throughout the state.