Cattleman’s Ball returns along with criticism of its potential venue

WICHITA — The Cattleman’s Ball will be returning to the Wichita social scene with a new name and a bit of controversy, it seems.

The newly named Cattle Baron’s Ball is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

A spokeswoman says the group “took some time off to re-invigorate” the event, which was last held in 2011.

The party has been held at various places through the years, and it looks as if the next one is going to be held at the equestrian arena of the Kansas Star Casino.

Wink Hartman Sr., who has the competing Hartman Arena in Park City, says he finds the situation “sickening.”

“The one organization that’s supposed to stand up for clean air is willing to look the other way and book events at an establishment that has smoking,” he says. “I just can’t believe what they’re doing.”

The casino has smoking, but the equestrian arena does not.

“The truth is they’re going to drag those people down there, and I find it hard to believe a percentage aren’t going to go into a casino filled with smoke due to the American Cancer Society’s invitation to go down there,” Hartman says.

Dana Kemp, an American Cancer Society spokeswoman, says the venue was supposed to be announced last week, but an announcement has been postponed until what’s likely to be early August. She won’t address where the party will be held or whether the announcement has been delayed because of criticism of the venue selection. Kemp says the details are still being finalized for the venue, but she says it will be smoke-free.

Regardless of what happens with the ball, Hartman is preparing for a bigger fight.

“I think it’s unconstitutional what’s going on,” he says of state-owned casinos permitting smoking while other venues don’t have a choice whether to allow it.

“We’re looking at the issue,” Hartman says of himself and others. “This is going to get exciting before this is over.”