In the 15 years she has been with Symphony in the Flint Hills, Kelly Tastove has worn a lot of hats or—in the case of this year’s Signature Event—a glittery, purple visor. Currently the operations manager & donor relations manager, one of Kelly’s main responsibilities at the organization is to ensure that it always meets or exceeds the expectations of the numerous patrons and sponsors whose generosity makes the Signature Event possible.
With the 2021 event now behind her, Kelly took some time to reflect on what it took to make it happen and the people who were there by her side.
What did you enjoy most about the 2021 Signature Event?
This year it was just the fact that we pulled it off after two difficult years with the microburst in 2019 and the pandemic in 2020. Not only did everyone work together to make it happen, from the feedback we’ve gotten, it sounds like everybody really enjoyed the day and the weather was perfect!
What’s your favorite part of the Signature Event?
I spend most of the day at the ticket gate greeting the patrons and sponsors that I’ve been communicating with for most of the year and to finally get to see everyone face to face…well it’s a good feeling. It’s almost like a family reunion. There’s just a camaraderie and we’re all there to enjoy the prairie and have a great day.
Beyond that, the cattle drive is always a highlight for me. I work with the outriders, and we come up with a plan for the cattle drive including the direction we want the cattle to go and the timing with a particular piece of music. However, rarely does it go the way we plan it, as the cattle sometimes make their own decisions when they see the crowd and hear the music. So, when it’s over and the cattle didn’t break out and go everywhere, it’s a relief. The outriders are experienced Flint Hills cowboys and cowgirls, I don’t worry about them getting the job done, I worry about the crowd understanding they need to stay a safe distance back.
What’s your favorite memory from your career at Symphony in the Flint Hills?
Remembering back to each event over the years … event day is always a great day. The week leading up to the event there is such a buzz both in the office making the final preparations and at the site getting everything set up. We can’t do this event without the support of not only our patrons and sponsors, but also our volunteers. For me personally, I couldn’t do it without my family. My husband, kids, cousin, niece, sister, brother, several brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law—they’re all on site event day and playing a role to make it happen. To have people like that surrounding me and helping me with my part of it all … it means a lot. So, I guess it really is a family reunion.
Why are the Flint Hills important to you?
Growing up in the Flint Hills, I would hear people talk about Kansas and how flat it was, and I’d always be like, “What are you talking about? The Flint Hills are so beautiful and they’re my home.”
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
On a cruise ship—and I’m ready to get back on one! I’m way overdue.
Tell us about your family.
My husband and I were married less than four months after we were set up on a blind date. Twenty-eight years later, we’re pretty sure it’s going to work out! Together, we have three boys who are all grown and out on their own. Our youngest just graduated from college this spring and as of July 1st he’s the last one to be on his own health insurance! Woo hoo!