Since most of my initial experience in Winfield was up on the hill, then later only among the masses at the fairgrounds, I had never taken an evening drive on 14th street, out past the joggers and dog walkers, through empty campgrounds and off across the old metal bridge over the Walnut. If I was a local, I'd know the name of that bridge, of course, and also the name of the old stone one that it replaces, whose limestone abutments still haunt that stretch of the river, and whose disruption of the flow causes the huge undercut bank just to the east. You don't have to be local to see that.
The sun had just gone down, and the earth was in that hush of cool air washing over a day of baking sun. As I headed back east through the park, I thought I caught a glimpse of a magnificent hot air balloon, glowing and transparent with the fire that gives it loft. But no, it was only the moon. But a moon worth parking the machine up on the railroad dike and watching as it clears the trees over a peaceful Kansas town. Believe me, there was still plenty of fire, and slowly, loft. The peace, however, is going to be soon interrupted, as evidenced by the land-rush behemoths lurking to my left.
So, I headed home, I had what I needed - thanks to the good folks at Memorial Library - proof that there is a predecessor to the Walnut Valley Festival, although a short-lived one. Oct. 23d, 1971, really did happen.