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May 09th, 2021

ok kids day corn swimChildren enjoy the corn dig activity at a past OK Kids Day at Meade Lake State Park. Courtesy photoROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times

 

Started in 2001, the Kansas Wildscape Foundation’s Outdoor Kansas for Kids, or OK Kids, Day, offers children the opportunity to experience the outdoor beauty of Kansas and to learn a little about the natural resources and wildlife through games and activities.

After a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, OK Kids Day is back for this year, and this Saturday, Meade Lake State Park is hosting its annual event at Southwest Kansas’ only state park.

As usual, there will be plenty of fun for children to take part in. Activities will include, archery, shooting sports, fishing, a massive water sponge fight, carnival games, a sand castle competition, a water balloon launcher, arts and crafts, a corn dig and disc golf.

Meade Lake State Park Administrative Specialist Tiffany Turley added some area first responders will be helping out as well.

“We will have Meade Fire, Meade County EMS, Meade County Sheriff’s Department out here doing activities, along with the Liberal Boy Scouts,” she said.

Meade Co-Op is donating the corn for the corn dig, and unlike previous OK Kids Days, Turley said this year’s event will feature younger children.

“OK Kids Day was originally aimed for the kids who were about 10 and older,” she said. “We don’t see as many of the 10 and older kids. We see a lot of the younger kids.”

With the cancelation of last year’s OK Kids Day, Turley said she heard much in the way of disappointment from both participants and park employees.

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“It’s our biggest event financially, and it’s time consuming, ,” she said. “It’s just a big event trying to find volunteers. We have kids who have come back every year since they were able to walk.”

While it was nice to get a break from the event, Turley said had she had the option, she would rather have had OK Kids Day last year.

“It’s really nice to see all the kids out here and parents,” she said. “They have a reason to put down their phones and just have fun, get away from the TV, video games and just be a kid. That’s a lot of the reason why we do what we do. We want kids to be kids.”

Turley said anticipation is already building for this year’s OK Kids Day.

“So far, we’ve had 73 kids pre-register, so we’re thinking it’s going to be a pretty good size year,” she said. “Two years ago, we had about 560 adults and kids register. This year, we’re almost at 100 already, including adults. I’m hoping it’s going to be a really good year.”

Turley said she and other Meade Lake employees are excited as they finish organizing everything for Saturday’s event.

“This year, we’re aiming for about 30 volunteers total, and it’s been interesting trying to find them,” she said. “I’ve found about 20. It’s exciting. It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it’s worth it to see the kids have fun and families being families.”

Turley added it is nice to once again be able to plan the event.

“The possibilities are endless on what the kids will do and trying to find new activities that would keep the kids interested,” she said. “I enjoy all of that. It’s stressful planning OK Kids Day. As a perfectionist, I want it to be perfect and flawless, but at the end of the day, the kids don’t care if it’s perfect. It still causes me a lot of stress trying to make sure it’s a perfect day for the kids. It’s all worth it in the end seeing the kids and all the pictures that come out of OK Kids Day and all the memories.”

And memories, Turley said, is what OK Kids Day is all about, as parents and grandparents bring their children and grandchildren to Meade Lake to enjoy the day.

“I even have volunteers whose kids are all grown up,” she said. “They just come out here to volunteer to see the kids and have fun and help out.”

Turley has been the main organizer for Meade Lake’s OK Kids Day for three years, and in that short time, she has strived to get the event back to the level it was with previous organizers.

“I think it’s getting there. It’s just a matter of time,” she said. “Of course, there’s been generation changes. Just keeping the kids interested has its challenges.”

As of last Friday, OK Kids Day had about 70 sponsors between volunteers, food donations, monetary donations and prizes, and Turley said sponsors provide much in the way of help. 

“As of right now, we have about 70 sponsors between volunteers, food donations, monetary donations and prizes,” she said.

“We’ve had people donate $20, and we’ve had people donate up to $500,” she said. “Even the $20 helps buy prizes, pens. We go through a lot of pens on OK Kids Day because of registration, and every dollar helps. Our food sponsors are just as wonderful. ADM in Plains, they buy all of our buns every year. We just tell them how many. We show up and pick them up. We’ve got wonderful sponsors, and I love working with every single one of them.”

Turley said sponsors are not just from Meade County, but also from Liberal, Oklahoma and Dodge City.

“It’s nice to see people still do things for the kids,” she said. “Kids are important, and we do what we can as a park. They’re there to help support us in all of that.”

Sponsors and volunteers for the 2021 OK Kids Day at Meade Lake include the Kansas Wildscape Foundation, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Friends of Meade State Park, Bartel Bake Shop, Meade Co-op, Lone Tree Retirement Center, Jim Hush Auctioneer, Meade Chamber of Commerce, Meade District Hospital, National Beef – Dodge City, Plains State Bank, Teeter Irrigation, United Wireless, Alliance Ag & Grain, Pride Ag Resources, Boy Scouts, Mid-Kansas Cooperative, Thornton Crop Service, Keating Tractor, Cottrell Crop Insurance, Meade County Conservation District, CMS Electric, Meade State Bank, Dalton’s Bedpost Motel, Southwest Medical Center, Meade County EMS, Dr. Chalker, ADM, Meade County Sheriff’s office, Minneola High School, Meade High School, Thriftway Plains Tavern, J & R Sand, T and T Processing, City of Meade, J & J Services, Meade Love’s, Chuckwagon, Meade Pizza Hut, Coats Irrigation, Bachman Drug, Crazy House, General Pest Control, Dodge City Veterinary Clinic, Leigh Ann Vermillion LLC, Lana Miller CPA, Meade County Title, Minneola Healthcare, Southwest Community Foundation, Lainey Jones, Brian Headrick, Beaver County Stock Yards, Liberal Youth Hangout, Western Kansas Irrigation, BKM Electric, Triple K Firearms, Meade Fire Department, Terry and Roberta Webb, Black Hills Energy, City of Fowler, JCAPS, Steve and Mary Heath, David and Danja Gorden, Sarah and Justin Volden, Michael and Maria Volden, Ashley Martin, Sharon Stockton, Irlana Meyers, Latonya Kraus, Craig Potts, Macaela Goossen, Mark Chance, Kurt Caldwell, L & L Engine Services, Carmelita Goossen, Victor Gomez, Celena Kuns, Jim Garcia, Liberal High School, Equity Bank, Fowler Equity Exchange and AWF Construction.

OK Kids Day starts at 10 a.m. Saturday and runs through 3 p.m. at Meade Lake, with registration taking place at the park office.

“It’s general information, parents names, phone numbers, kids names, ages,” Turley said.

Early forecasts are calling for temperatures in the 70s for Saturday, and with the warmer weather, Turley said now is the perfect time for OK Kids Day.

“We have some of the state parks who don’t do theirs until July or August when it’s 100 degrees outside, and their events usually aren’t as big as ours,” she said. “We used to have the biggest one in the state. Now, I think we’re down to second or third biggest. Having as many people as we do out here, having the weather not blistering hot or freezing cold is wonderful.”

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