WINFIELD, Kan. (KSNW) — The KSN Summer Road Trip stopped in Winfield Sunday afternoon. The KSN News team met many people who braved the triple-digit heat at Island Park.

Winfield, about 40 miles southeast of Wichita, is between the Walnut River and Timber Creek and is part of the Flint Hills. The town has 11,777 residents and is the county seat of Cowley County. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income is $48,027.

According to, the land was purchased from Chetopah, Chief of the Osage, in 1870. Colonel E.C. Manning chose the area for its beauty, water, fertile soil, and wildlife. Just a short walk from downtown Winfield, there is a trail first used by Native Americans, then settlers. It was the Old California Trail.

The town really started to grow in the 1870s, and it blossomed with the arrival of the railroad in 1879. Oil exploration and the discovery of helium near Dexter added to Winfield’s economy after World War I.

The town survived the Great Depression, and World War II brought another opportunity. The War Department took over the airport and built Strother Field. The area became home to aviation cadets and their families. The field closed at the end of the war.

After the war, Winfield expanded with new businesses. People also began to recognize the town as a music city. The community hosts the Walnut Valley Festival National Flat-Picking Championships. The event draws bluegrass and flat-pick guitar musicians and fans from across the country. The festival got its start in 1972.

“Back in the 70s, when they first came, people brought their children, and now their children are,” Larry Junker, Walnut Valley Festival Newsletter writer, said. “They’re the grandparents now, and they’re bringing their children.”

The festival draws in about 15,000 people each year. This year, it gets started on Sept. 14.

Another popular concert event is Duck Jam in the Park. Winfield is the home to one of the nation’s oldest municipal bands, which plays music throughout the summer at Island Park.

“The city band started in September 1895, and we are the oldest ongoing band in Kansas,” said Chance Alquest, band director. “With the exception of December, May, and August, we rehearse year round.”

Here are other things to do around Winfield:

Community & Government: