Make A Splash Topeka Water Festival

Established 2000

General Information: 

School-based; approximately 1,200 participants; Shawnee, Pottawatomie, and Douglas Counties (this can change with recruitment taking place in the areas surrounding Topeka)

Next Celebration Date: 
September 19, 2013

Garfield Park
Topeka, KS
9:30 AM to 2:05 PM

VIP tour available?: 

Judy Boltman
Shawnee County Conservation District
785-267-5721 ext 3

Festival Activities: 

Exhibit Hall, Common Water, Get the Groundwater Picture, Water Crossings, The Long Haul, River Mud, Water Jeopardy, Water Quality Hopscotch, Migration Headache, The Water Challenge, Incredible Journey, H2O Olympics, The Thunderstorm, Superbowl Surge, Fashion A Fish, River to River, From Garbage to Groundwater, Just Passing Through, Water in Your World, Wetland in a Pan, Blue Beads, Safety on the River, What's in the Water?

Detailed Festival Information: 

When Project WET decided to begin the Make A Splash program with the goal to have a water festival in every state sponsored in part by Project WET and Nestle Waters, they contacted KACEE and Kansas Project WET. Because of the strong partnerships KACEE had in the Topeka area, it was determined that it would be the location for the Make A Splash with Project WET water festival. (Make A Splash Topeka Water Festival). We were lucky to receive additional funding from the Bureau of Water for the first few years to get us going. The first year we struggled to get 400 students to the water festival. The second year, we filled our 400 slots quickly and had another 400 on the waiting list! The 2006 water festival was interrupted by severe weather! Although many of our classes had decided to stay at their schools, we were going to try to have our festival. Ultimately, we decided it would be unsafe to have students out and about. Schools that could be reached were asked to stay at their schools. Still, about a dozen classes were on their way when we had to make the decision to cancel the festival. The Exhibit Hall quickly became a presentation hall and the students were able to participate in a shortened event. One thing is clear, we have FABULOUS and FLEXIBLE presenters and exhibitors! As we plan for the 2013 water festival, we have learned a lot. We are currently working on recruitment and are planning for over 1,000 students again. We are re-evaluating what we mean by "rain or shine". We are still having fun! Several of the reasons that I feel this water festival is successful is the role of the planning committee, the many stakeholders and partners we have involved, the diversity of festival programming, and the relationship we have built with our educators over the years. By utilizing the strengths of the planning committee, we have been able to accomplish so much more. This planning committee is both a working and thinking committee. They are a component of what makes other parts of our festival so strong. For example, through the committee, we are able to reach out to as many possible stakeholders and partners these individuals and organizations may build a relationship with the Topeka Water Festival as sponsors, volunteers, presenters, exhibitors, or community supporters! The committee also looks at our programming each year to determine if there are aspects of water, an extremely diverse natural resource, that we arent currently addressing in programming. While we have been so pleased with the success of the water festival, we do encounter challenges each year. One is the basic logistics of hosting an event like this. It is never easy to move 2,000 bottles of water, set up, clean up, and everything else. We utilize a lot of volunteers, but we always feel like we could use some more! Funding is another area where we have been very successful, but feel like we could do more. Funding is always an issue with events such as this; we are always working to find and keep a diverse group of funders who will continue to support the program. Beyond the logistics of an event like this, it is also a challenge to balance the growth of the festival with educators needs and programming abilities. More and more of our educators wanted to attend the festival as an all-day event; holding numbers steady while adding programming to allow for all-day participation; some years we have a waiting list / some years we dont; finding presenters and activities for our growing water festivalall components of some of our greatest challenges.

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