The historically renovated Burford Theatre finally is set to open this week, after being closed to the public since its doors shut in 2004.

That same year, B&B Theatres donated the building, which was being used as a movie theater, to the Arkansas City Area Arts Council.

Since then, countless hours and millions of dollars have gone into the remodeling of the theater to take it back to its 1920s-era look.

The largest public donation of funds came from the V.J. Wilkins Memorial Foundation.

In 2014, the foundation awarded the Burford $2 million, to be distributed over the course of 10 years, in order to make the theater operational at last.

The theater’s new marquee, declaring the facility the “V.J. Wilkins Family Center for the Arts (at the) Burford Theatre,” was installed June 30.

The Burford opened its doors for the first time in 1924. When it was designed, it was a state-of-the-art theater for its time.

This week, there will be many activities open to the public that will celebrate the re-opening of the historic building.

Here is a handy roundup of all the Burford Theatre grand opening events taking place this weekend, and beyond:


The official dedication of the Burford Theatre will be at 2 p.m. Sept. 29 at the theater. It is open to the public.

The Burford renovation also will be presented with the Nelson Sensation Award for October by the Arkansas City Beautification and Tree Advisory Board.

Burford Follies

The Burford Theatre’s grand opening, “A Salute to the Roaring Twenties,” featuring Music Theatre of Wichita and presenting the Burford Follies, will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 at the historic theater.

Tickets are $60 (premium seating) and $50, available exclusively through the Burford Theatre by calling (620) 442-5896 or (620) 441-3518.

Speakeasy Soiree

There will be a community celebration, “Speakeasy Soiree,” at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 for the grand opening of the Burford Theatre.

There will be dancing, music, gaming, entertainment, a cash bar and concessions. Period dress is encouraged. The costume contest is free.

Tickets are $5 in advance with a secret password to the side entrance or $7 at the door. The dance contest is $15, with $100 in cash prizes.

Back to the ’20s

There will be a “Back to the ’20s” open house from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Burford Theatre. Entry is only 25 cents … just like the good ol’ days!

The public is invited to attend. Donations are welcome.

Continuing the festivities

The Burford Theatre will have several special showings as part of its grand opening season in October, November and December. All showings will start at 7 p.m.

  • Oct. 8 — “Ella Cinders,” starring Colleen Moore, star of “The Perfect Flapper” (the Burford’s original grand opening movie), and jazz combo following at the Burford Bar. Tickets are $5.
  • Oct. 23 — “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” with many surprises. Tickets are $5.
  • Oct. 29 — Bryne Donaldson and Lawrence Ross in concert. Tickets are $15.
  • Nov. 5 — “Casablanca” dinner theater. Tickets are $50.
  • Nov. 19 — Vaudeville Night. Tickets are $10.
  • Dec. 10 — “White Christmas” special event for Christmas in the City. Tickets are $5.