WINFIELD, Kan. (KSNW) – The 51st annual Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield has kicked off. It runs through Sunday, Sept. 17.

Everything you need to know is listed on the Walnut Valley Festival website.

There are four stages with music all day long from over 30 performers, some new and some old.

There are all sorts of food vendors and arts and crafts vendors with everything from tie-dye shirts to art pieces.

“It’s kind of a city in itself,” Larry Junker said. “You don’t really have to go outside.”

Larry Junker started writing the WVA (Walnut Valley Association) Daily in the 90s after starting to interview contest winners.

“In 1998, we started a daily newsletter, 8.5×14, filled with a schedule, filled with little stories about what’s happening in the campgrounds etc. So, all total, I probably have been working for the festival for, I don’t know, maybe 30 years or so. And yeah, it’s a fun job,” Junker said.

Junker says over the years, he has seen people shift more from using tents to campers.

Typically, Junker says they bring in 10,000-13,000 people.

“Almost doubles the size of Winfield because Winfield is running around 12,000 people,” Junker said. “So it’s like another city out here at the county fairgrounds.”

Junker said his favorite part is getting to know people at the campgrounds.

“If you come once, I guarantee you you’re going to come back again,” Junker said. “It all of a sudden becomes a part of you. And you look forward to it. There’s a gal out in the campground and says when the festival is here, she says I now live in the moment, and how true that is.”  

One group traveled to Winfield from Iceland and has been coming to the festival for years after an American friend told them about it who has gone to Winfield for 38 years.

“We love the music,” Thorunn Kvaran, a visitor from Iceland, said. “Yeah, we love the music, and we love the people. Everybody was so nice and welcoming. The people and the music. Yeah, that’s what we love about Winfield. Everybody is so friendly, and when you walk around the fairground, you hear all these different types of music. It’s wonderful.”

Leo Eilts first came to the WVF in 1976 as a fan, then became one of the performers.

Eilts says he has met some of his best friends at the festival.

“Friends from all over the country, they only get to see me once a year here,” Eilts said. “And in fact, I met three of my best friends all on the same night out in the Pecan Grove in 1978. And we’re all still very much in touch with each other. But it’s more than that. It’s also the music, but there’s in some ways it’s changed in a lot of ways it’s stayed the same.”