By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau announced Friday Hays has been selected as the site for the 50th Annual Kansas Shrine Bowl on July 15, 2023.
The Kansas Shrine Bowl is a nonprofit charity that works to raise funds and awareness for the Shriners Hospitals for Children. Since 1974 these prestigious high school football all-star games have raised over $3 million.
The event routinely brings 6,000 to 8,000 visitors to the host community. It is expected the 50th could draw even more of a crowd.
“We are excited our event will be returning to the Hays community for this very special game,” said Kansas Shrine Bowl Executive Director B.J. Harris in a news release. “Hays has proven to be a great host for us in the past, and we’re confident it will be the perfect backdrop for our 50th game.”
Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau staff prepared a bid for the 50th event, which included a lengthy application, pledges for partnerships, and, in the final selection round, an in-person pitch, which was presented by Janet Kuhn, Hays CVB convention and sales manager. Kuhn helped bring the Kansas Shrine Bowl to Hays in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
“Our community partners — from Fort Hays State University, local law enforcement, and our lodging properties, to the Ellis County Fair Board and local Shriners — all work together to make Hays a welcoming destination time and time again,” Kuhn said in a news release.
As the host community, Hays will partner to coordinate other events that accompany the Kansas Shrine Bowl, including a parade, band camp, cheerleading clinic, cross country event, golf tournament and banquet for 1,200 Shriners, participants and fans.
"I am just very, very thrilled to have the Shriners choose Hays," Hays Mayor Sandy Jacobs said during a press conference Friday morning. "We work every day to ensure we have a very good environment for activities such as this.
"We have over 1,000 hotel rooms. We have over 65 restaurants. Our facilities are second to none. We are just thrilled to have you back.
Hosting the Shrine Bowl is about the commerce it brings to Hays, but Jacobs said it is also about the money the event raises for children's hospitals.
Curtis Hammeke, FHSU athletics director, said the Shrine Bowl is a great showcase of student athletes from across the state.
"More importantly, it's a great, great contributor to the Shriner hospitals and the mission of this program is something we all think very highly of and that's taking care of the kids."
The 49th annual game will be July 23, 2022, in Pittsburg. For additional information on the Kansas Shrine Bowl, visit www.kansasshrinebowl.com.