Frontenac Homecoming to return this weekend as ‘Mining Days’

Jonathan Riley
Morning Sun

FRONTENAC, Kan. — After being cancelled last year due to COVID-19, Frontenac Homecoming returns this week — with a few post-pandemic changes to the annual event, including its name. 

The decision to change Frontenac Homecoming’s name to Mining Days, in recognition of the mining heritage of the broader Southeast Kansas area, was made earlier this year in an effort to draw visitors from outside of Frontenac, City Administrator John Zafuta and Homecoming Committee President Seth Nutt said Tuesday. This year’s Mining Days event will be Thursday, June 3, through Sunday, June 6. 

Planning for Mining Days this year was also affected by the pandemic. Organizers would usually start planning the event in January but weren’t able to meet until late March this year. 

“It was definitely challenging,” Nutt said Tuesday. “We weren’t really sure what the county and state would allow us to do, but planning still had to go forward. Luckily it all worked out.” 

For the most part, despite the name change, organizers are aiming to maintain the same Frontenac Homecoming experience that residents have come to expect. The full schedule of Mining Days events, available at facebook.com/frontenachomecoming/, still features “The Godfather”-style artwork. “It’s only business,” the schedule notes. 

“We’ve pretty much kept the schedule as it has been in the past few years,” Nutt said at a recent Frontenac City Council meeting. “We took off a couple of events, just because honestly we’re short-handed. And it was things like the 5K, and who really wants to run anyways?” 

Besides the 5K, other features of past Homecomings including pool games and the pancake feed sponsored by the Frontenac Fire Department will also not be happening this year. Despite the challenges that came with COVID-19, however, there was a silver lining for Mining Days organizers.  

“We have Evans Midland Empire Shows coming in for the carnival this year,” Nutt said. “They’re going to be a much nicer show than what we’ve had in the past. They’re coming out of the Kansas City area. We kind of lucked out. Normally they don’t leave the Kansas City area, but with covid restrictions being much more stringent up there, they haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to play, so they’re going on the road a little bit more this summer.” 

Other events featured as part of Mining Days this year include a silent auction that opens at 6 p.m. Thursday; an ice cream social, a cake walk, and a martial arts demonstration on Friday; a parade, a turtle race, an arm-wrestling contest and a shuffleboard tournament on Saturday; and a fishing derby from 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday. 

Nutt noted that the dog races scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday are not a celebration of Frontenac’s heritage in the form of the kind of dog races that once took place at the city’s long-disused Camptown Greyhound Park

“There’s everything from Chihuahuas and Yorkies to bigger dogs,” Nutt said, adding that besides the races, prizes will be awarded for best talker, best butt wiggle, and best kisser. “The kids love it,” he said. 

Starting at the same time as the dog races and continuing to 1 p.m. Saturday, the SEK Humane Society will host an adoption event as part of Mining Days.