I think we can safely say that the very first event of the very first Winfield festival was the lecture given by Kansas State University professor of folklore, William Koch, who passed away in 1984. The title was "The Folk Music Breakthrough", and it was delivered in Richardson Auditorium on Friday, April 29th, 1967.
I know it appears that I am sitting at a computer typing, but I am actually actively looking for a copy of this lecture, or any of the materials from which it drew. Somehow, I expect to find some magical text that proves to us that it would be a far better world if we would all just get together and play guitars and sing songs to each other for days and weeks at a time. And that we should just call it "Winfield".
We've all dreamed crazier things, for sure. This one just happens to have happened on a pretty big scale.
A long-time associate of Mr. Koch's, Dr. Jean Sloop, has been very helpful in beginning this search, and with helping me understand what kind of fellow dedicates his life to this elusive thing called Folklore. She traveled the state with him, presenting programs of folk songs and stories, most with Kansas origins or connections. He was a co-founder of the Kansas State Historical Society, and is the author of several books on the subject.
Yes, I would like to start with Professor Koch's lecture and then move forward, to bring us up somehow to the time and place this whole blog started - on that afternoon drive back in August, out fourteenth street and through the Winfield Fairgrounds. However, it looks like some time digging through the State Historical Society archives and maybe even the KU archives will be required to accomplish that end, or I should say, that beginning.
I would like to have Bill's words in front of me, so I can more effectively put myself in those students positions, to try to see some stuff the way they saw it, to try to go forward from there one more time, maybe without getting tripped up this time.
Fortunately, an amazing cache of photographs has just surfaced that, hopefully, will hold our interest while the excavation is taking place. I'm just going to add a few at a time, to keep our appetites whetted - and to buy me some time on the business end of a pick and a shovel.