The Ellis County Democratic Party will honor the 60th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s campaign trip to Hays with a day full of activities. Many of Kennedy’s activities in Hays for a fundraiser on Nov. 20, 1959, will be recreated. The highlight will be a banquet at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, at the former Kennedy Middle School, known as Jefferson West in 1959.
History enthusiasts will not want to miss a planned panel discussion on the impact of Kennedy’s visit and campaign strategy, as well as Democratic strategist Norbert Dreiling’s influence in bringing the Massachusetts senator to Hays. Also planned is a Kennedy exhibit at Forsyth Library. Further details, including sale of banquet tickets and the guest speaker, will be announced at a later date.
Presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy toured five cities in a Kansas tour Nov. 19-20 of 1959. Prior to arriving in Hays, Kennedy stopped in Kansas City, Wichita, Dodge City and Salina. Instead of relying on party leaders to choose a candidate at the national convention, Kennedy ushered in a new era, traveling from state to state to win delegates.
While in Hays, Kennedy gave an interview to the local television station, held a press conference in the Memorial Union on the campus of Fort Hays Kansas State College (now Fort Hays State University), rode in a parade down Main Street, and was the keynote speaker at the banquet. There was an overflow crowd at the fundraiser in the school’s gym, with 645 in attendance. Ticket price was $10, which would be $88 today.
The Ellis County Democratic Party recognizes the importance of remembering this moment in history and wants to commemorate it on this special occasion. Reserve this day on your calendar to learn more about the future 35th president’s trip to Hays.
“It is important to recognize important historical events in our county’s history, and John F. Kennedy’s stop in Hays 60 years ago should be remembered,” said Henry Schwaller IV, chairman of the Ellis County Democratic Party and mayor of the city of Hays. “We would like to invite the people of Ellis County and all Kansans in joining us for this special event.”
Additional details will be announced at a later date. For updates, check the Facebook page for the Ellis County Kansas Democratic Party.