In 1994, after attending the Walnut Valley Festival for several years, a group of acoustic music enthusiasts in Colby decided to have a "mini festival" at Bourquin's Campground, just north of I-70 on the frontage road. Enthusiasm from the approximately 50 people in attendance at that first "Pickin' Picnic" (with performers Larry Booth, Wayne and Millie Lauritsen and the Echo Creek Bluegrass Band) prompted Larry Booth, Susan McLemore and Leilani Thomas (of the Colby Convention and Visitors Bureau) to agree before the night was over that an official bluegrass festival would be held the following year. Leilani suggested the name "Pickin' on the Plains" and plans for the first festival, which was to be patterned after the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS, began.
Original "bluegrass committee" members included Jo and Larry Booth, Wayne and Millie Lauritsen, John and Merry Lee Lewis, J. D. and Donna Bennett, and Bob and Susan McLemore--with Leilani Thomas facilitating the meetings. For 9 years, the festival was held at Bourquin's Campground. In 2003, the festival was moved to the Thomas County Fairgrounds. Each year, improvements were made, including the addition of youth activites, horse and oxen-drawn wagon rides, a youth contest, the construction of the festival stage with covering, an arch-type canopy (that has grown to 4,000 square feet) and water misters to shade the audience. A pre-festival potluck was added in 2003 and workshops were added in 2008. Each year, the committee strives to enhance the entertainment lineup with top-notch bands, many of which are nationally and internationally known. The festival is funded largely by community contributions, and in turn, contributors receive advertising at the festival and on our website during the year. In addition, the committee hosts various fundraisers, including pancake feeds and concerts.
In 2011, the Colby Convention and Visitors Bureau, which has been a big part of the festival since its inception, became the main supporter. We truly appreciate all of our sponsors and ask you to visit the "Partnership" pages to view the list of all our partners. We hope your experience at Pickin' on the Plains is truly enjoyable and memorable, and that like so many others, you will be "hooked" and make us a part of your annual "gotta' be there" activities! This site is dedicated to our late webmaster, Don Shorock, who lived in Great Bend, Kansas. Don found his nitche in the acoustic music circle, hosting websites for many musicians, bands and festivals world-wide. For several years, Don took pictures and the last couple of years, video, which he posted immediately from his motel room. In December of 2010, Don passed away suddenly at his home. If you would like to make a contribution in Don's name, please make your check to Pickin' on the Plains, 350 S. Range, Suite 10, Colby, KS and note that it is for the Don Shorock Memorial Fund. Don will be sadly missed by his many friends at Pickin' on the Plains.