LEBANON, Kan. — Two events near the middle of the contiguous 48 states will be brought together here on Saturday.

Running enthusiasts will have the opportunity to run the Race to the Center Half Marathon. Following the race, fun for all ages is planned at the Lebanon Bash.

Kaden Roush, a board member of the U.S. Center Foundation which helped organize the events, said it is the first time the two events have been held on the same weekend.

Organizers hope the two events will increase participation in each other. They put together welcome packets for each of the runners in the half marathon with tickets for a meal and concert.

Roush said the 5k run that had been associated with the Lebanon Bash was discontinued as to not draw away from the half marathon.

“I think it’s going to be complimentary,” he said.

Starting at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, runners will gather north of Smith Center, Kansas, for the Race to the Center Half Marathon.

The entire 13.1-mile course will be on unpaved country roads through the Kansas prairie from Smith Center to the monument for the geographical center of the contiguous United States near Lebanon. The race is certified by the USA Track and Field Association, and bicyclists also may participate.

Events for the Lebanon Bash begin at 11 a.m. with a newly added car show and food vendors.

Through the afternoon, there will be free inflatables for children and trips through the Semisaurus Museum, a fishing tournament, Miss U.S. Center Beauty Pageant, trap shoot and archery course, harmonica class, kids movie, corn hole tournament, kids tractor pull and a parade at 5 p.m.

“It will be a full day of fun activities and we welcome the whole family to come and and enjoy it,” Roush said. “Then they can come cap the day with live music during the street dance.”

There are seven hours of live music planned for the concert, which opens its gates at 6 p.m.

Opening acts will include Brady James from the Loup City area and the Shiela Greenland Band. Roush said Greenland grew up near Arcadia.

The headliner is Jason Boland and the Stragglers, a red dirt country band from Oklahoma.

Following Boland will be Lucas Maddy & the Kansas Cartel, hailing from the Norton, Kansas, area and Grant Lambert from Smith Center.

Roush said moving the town’s celebration away from August helped prevent conflicts with neighboring communities’ events trying to fit festivals in before summer break from school was over.

“We don’t want to compete with other towns,” he said. “We like the option to go to town celebrations around us.”

So two years ago, they moved the Lebanon Bash to September and only have to compete with weddings and Husker football games. He said they lost some students who had to return to school, but gained more participation from surrounding towns.

He said the weather was also a bonus as the month generally offers cooler temperatures.

The event had been known as the Lebanon Celebration, but ended when Roush was young. The three-day event was reinvigorated as a single-day event in 2014, with plenty of donations from local businesses.

“Since then, the whole community has been behind it and want to get this thing back to where it used to be,” he said.

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