Leaders of Symphony in the Flint Hills, an organization whose main event is an annual outdoor concert by the Kansas City Symphony that draws as many as 7,000 people, canceled the event this weekend after storms damaged the site of the performance.
“As all of us know who live in the Midwest, the environment determines the terms of our culture, and boy did that happen today,” said Leslie VonHolten, executive director of the Symphony in the Flint Hills, in a short video posted to Facebook on Saturday.
“For the safety of our musicians, our visitors and for the prairie itself, we have made the unfortunate decision to cancel.”
The outdoor performance by the Kansas City Symphony has been an annual event since it began in 2006, with performances at different locations in the Flint Hills. This year's concert was originally scheduled for Saturday, then rescheduled for Sunday before organizers canceled it.
"Tents were destroyed and due to predictions of incoming severe weather tonight, the board has made the difficult decision to cancel the Signature Event tomorrow," the organization announced in a news release on Saturday.
"Our mission is to heighten appreciation and knowledge of the tallgrass prairie — and it is also our duty to protect it. Unfortunately, we cannot safely host the event. We also don't want to put any lives in danger due to the storms in the forecast," the release said.
Noting that the concert was the result of year-round planning involving 700 volunteers, the organization said the decision to cancel the event was "truly heartbreaking."
“Crews worked all day today to try and fix the site for tomorrow, but it's just not possible. Too much damage,” the Kansas City Symphony wrote on its Facebook page Saturday.
Most of the comments on the event’s Facebook page were supportive, though some ticket holders expressed disappointment about not getting a refund.
Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.