MANHATTAN, Kan. —The much anticipated Grand Opening of the Flint Hills Discovery Center has arrived! As one of Kansas’ most anticipated new attractions, the Flint Hills Discovery Center will open Saturday, April 14, 2012. The Grand Opening will be a free public event for the community, so everyone can take part in this once in a lifetime celebration. “We are planning a very special day to mark the public opening. It is a great honor for all involved to now share this great new attraction and resource about our glorious Flint Hills with everyone,” said Bob Workman, Director of the Flint Hills Discovery Center.
The Grand Opening ceremony will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. in the heart of Blue Earth Plaza, near 3rd and Colorado Streets. The Ceremony will include remarks by Governor Sam Brownback, City Manager Ron Fehr, Mayor James E. Sherow, Former Mayor and Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation President Bruce Snead and Former Flint Hills Tourism Coalition President Suzan Barnes. In addition, Curtis Kekahbah, Kaw Nation member, will conduct a blessing of Blue Earth Plaza and members of the Kaw Nation will perform a dance to honor this new addition to the Flint Hills’ regional community. Also included in the ceremony will be three live music performances. Special guest musician Kelley Hunt will perform, local vocalist group, In A Chord will sing The Star-Spangled Banner and the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association will perform Home on the Range. The Grand Opening ceremony will conclude with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Thanks to ESB Financial, the proud sponsor of Grand Opening day, free admission to the exhibits will be provided for all visitors and family-friendly activities for all ages will be held both outside and inside the Discovery Center. ESB Financial will be leading kite-flying for kids, fossil-rubbing and will even feature an award-winning Lasso professional to demonstrate how roping is done in the Flint Hills. The Manhattan Convention & Visitors Bureau has also donated a Grand Prize Package to be raffled off on Grand Opening day. Other festivities throughout the day will include: activities led by K-State Athletics such as photo opportunities with player cut outs, coloring pages of Willie the Wildcat, face painting by the K-State Cheerleaders and a raffle for K-State memorabilia. In addition, there will be a meet and greet with Miss K-State Wildcat/Miss Manhattan, horse and carriage rides by 3C Carriages, and a variety of live music and entertainment. Concessions for food and drinks will also be available, as well as outdoor restrooms, and trash/recycling receptacles. Volunteers will be on hand in Flint Hills Discovery Center t-shirts to answer questions and be of any assistance.
To ensure a positive experience for all, timed tickets will be available outside of the Flint Hills Discovery Center starting at 9 a.m. Although the Discovery Center will officially be open at 11:30 a.m. with extended hours until 7 p.m., with an estimated of 1,000 expected visitors, timed tickets have been organized to assure that all individuals truly enjoy their experience. Upon arrival, visitors can select which time they would like to enter the Discovery Center. Approximately 225 tickets will be available for each hour from, 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After 5:30 p.m., doors will be open to the public without timed ticket entry.
A complimentary shuttle will run every 10 minutes and pick up visitors at several local parking lots, near the Manhattan Town Center Mall parking lot and other nearby locations. For directions to the Flint Hills Discovery Center and/or to print a map of the parking shuttle route, please visit the City of Manhattan website. There, you can also view a map of placement for the day’s entertainment.
“With over 3,000 youth scheduled to visit the Flint Hills Discovery Center between April and June, the Flint Hills Discovery Center is bound to be a wonderful resource for you and your family. Grand Opening will serve as a great day to get in free and enjoy the free activities,” stated Travis Young, History and Culture Education Specialist.
And for those who already have something planned for April 14, the Flint Hills Discovery Center will be open for Members-Only Day on April 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and during extended hours on Sunday, April 15 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. “With over 500 members prior to Grand Opening, you don’t want to miss out on the fantastic early-bird specials,” said Richard Dean Prudenti, Membership Coordinator. Memberships may be purchased over the phone at 785.587.2726 and at the Flint Hills Discovery Center starting April 13. For those who have already purchased memberships, membership cards will be available for pick-up on April 13 as well. Volunteer applications are also now available on the Flint Hills Discovery Center website at flinthillsdiscovery.org.