Uncovering Kansas participated in the Kaw Valley Farm Tour this year. While we were out we interviewed farmers and attendees (and some of the wildlife, too).
What’s a honey tap? Is there lanolin in alpaca? You can learn the answers by listening to the podcast and by attending the Kaw Valley Farm Tour. This year’s tour is October 5-6, 2019. It is also the 15th anniversary, featuring 34 farms located in five counties. Attendees are able to get an insider view of working farms and ranches and get to know the people who produce the food they consume and the materials that go into the products they buy. Uncovering Kansas loves encouraging our listeners to explore and learn about Kansas. Rachel interviews the owners of two of the farms participating in this year’s Kaw Valley Farm Tour: Spike and Patty Durkin of Happy Valley Farm, and Claudia Hey of Ad Astra Alpacas.
A side note from our co-producer: The relaxed format of our podcast leads to friendly, casual bantering between host and guest. This episode is no different. Listeners may incorrectly conclude we (Rachel and Geoffrey) literally 'throw out' our empty honey containers. I assure you, friends, we do no such thing. We recycle with pride and vigilance and, whether glass or plastic, our honey containers are correctly disposed of with care and attention to environmental impact. Also, I'm wicked stoked to work this honey tap. Bees, baby. Bees!
Kaw Valley Farm Tour
Happy Valley Farms
Ad Astra Alpacas
The Kansas Sampler Foundation is dedicated to connecting Kansans across rural communities. One way they do this is through the Big Kansas Road Trip. This happens May 2-5 in 2019, and the Road Trip will be in Cheyenne, Sherman, and Wallace counties in northwest Kansas. Here’s how Marci Penner, founder of the Kansas Sampler Foundation describes the event. “Create your own adventure at your own pace the same day that other people are doing the same thing.”
The Big Kansas Road Trip website
Cheyenne County Kansas website
Sherman County Kansas website
Wallace County Kansas website
Kansas Guidebook for Explorers
In 2018, we recorded 2 episodes about our experience during the 2018 Big Kansas Road Trip. Check them out:
2018 BKRT Highlights
2018 BKRT – The Experience
In November 2017, on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend, we took a day trip to Chase County for their Country Christmas Festival. It was the community’s official Christmas season kick-off. Here’s a fun fact: The very first recordings we did for this podcast are in this episode! We needed to practice. More importantly we knew we’d return to Cottonwood Falls in November 2018—the journey and experience was worth an episode. We’ve appended and updated these first recordings with an interview Rachel did with Toni Schneider, Chase County Chamber of Commerce Outreach Coordinator, in late October 2018. Toni and Rachel discuss details for this year’s celebration. There is a lot happening in Chase County on November 23 and 24 for kids and adults, including the Ugly Sweater 5k Run, the Holiday Home Tour, Arts and Craft Shows, Silent Auction, a visit from Santa, and the parade.
Please listen to the episode, we think you’ll enjoy it. And we hope you not only consider supporting small businesses during the holiday season but that you’ll consider visiting and supporting smaller communities as well. If you live in northeastern Kansas, Chase County is an easy and accessible drive from the suburbs and the community’s Christmas Festival is a great way to spend a day with family and friends.
Links to some key mentions in the episode:
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Ad Astra Restaurant
Grand Central Hotel
Chase County Christmas
This is the second episode of the 3-part series about the 2018 Big Kansas Road Trip. (Part 1 may be found below and the Part 3 is pending.) This episode focuses on the experience we had on the trip. Specifically, the people we (Geoff and I) met. As a reminder, the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) is hosted by the Kansas Sampler Foundation – whose mission is to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and by networking and supporting rural communities. And the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) is a multi-day event where people are encouraged to explore 3 Kansas counties that have been selected by Kansas Sampler Foundation.
In the background of the BKRT is a vibe. There’s a rhythm of hospitality offering a consistent experience not typically available to travelers. Because these small towns were expecting visitors from all across Kansas, they were ready and willing to engage. People from Kansas are friendly – but this was more than saying hello as you passed each other on the sidewalk. They were there to represent their town and to talk to strangers and engage in conversations usually reserved for your closest friends.
As suburbanites Geoff and I are aware we are inexperienced about the daily workings of ranch life. Luckily Marti —who manages a ranch— was available to answer questions. The price of admission? The chance to have a great conversation. Living in a rural community has its challenges and we had a great conversation about these. She opened a corner of the ranch to BKRT participants and set up a snack bar for hungry travelers, a port-a-potty, and a photo station with the Gypsum Hills as the background. These may sound simple but they were important to road weary travelers in need of stretching legs.
We met Jack —a man from Mullinville in his 80s. He’s a musician and gave Geoff an impromptu lesson. These type of situations are wonderful and rare because too often travelers just blow on through small towns on their way to some destination. Every person participating in the BKRT did so for the experience. That created social spaces —rare folds of space and time— that allowed intentional interactions. Fellow travelers shared road stories. Visitors were given permission to ask questions. And locals were on hand to talk about their town and share stories (Geoff learned of a ghost story whose setting provided him with some inspiration). We had a wonderful experience.
(Here is a link to the Big Kansas Road Trip Facebook Page)
This is the first in a three-episode series about the Big Kansas Road Trip.
2018 was the inaugural year for the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT), a cultural event conceived by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, whose mission is to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and by networking and supporting rural communities.
Three Kansas counties and a specific weekend were chosen as the official venue and timeframe for the BKRT. The 2018 counties were Barber, Comanche, and Kiowa, located in the south-central region of Kansas. The towns within the designated counties rolled out the red carpet for visitors, who explored the area and interacted with locals to get firsthand accounts of places, history and legends. This episode is about the highlights from the trip.
A not-to-be-missed highlight of this region is the Gypsum Hills. The 42-mile Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway drive that spans from Medicine Lodge to Coldwater on US60 will change your idea about the geography of Kansas and will take your breath away.
Uncovering Kansas recommends visiting the Chief Theatre, on the National Register of Historical Places, when visiting the town of Coldwater. The mural on the inside of the lobby was painted in 1947 by Don Nichols. And nearby Protection, Kansas is home to the Stan Herd art gallery. This internationally known agricultural artist is a Kansas native and the gallery includes several his works, including drawings from his days in high school.
Greensburg, Kansas is a destination itself. After being destroyed completely in 2007 by a massive tornado, the town rebuilt from scratch. And when they incorporated green tech concepts and construction that resulted in a green community that includes many LEED Certified buildings. One of these buildings is the 547 Art Center, a creativity and community space that opened about a year after the tornado.
M.T. Liggett left his mark on the town of Mullinville, Kansas. The American folk artist used metals and other farm implements to make sculptures that communicate his strong opinions.
Our third episode of Uncovering Kansas highlights August Festivals across the state to encourage those who want to uncover Kansas on their own.
August is a time for County Fairs in Kansas. All County Fairs have the same key elements: animals, carnival rides and games, crafts, and plenty of food. We encourage you to change things up and visit a county fair in a county you’ve never been to. This way, you get to enjoy all of the traditional County Fair elements while also experiencing a part of Kansas you’ve never experienced before.
Here are the featured county fairs:
Dodge City Days July 27-Aug 5
Crawford County Fair Aug 1-4
Cowley County Fair Aug 2-6
Inter-State Fair and Rodeo Aug 13-18 – in Coffeyville Kansas
Yoder Heritage Days – Aug 25
In addition to County Fairs, here are some other festivals or events going on across Kansas in August:
Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Aug 1-4
This event features saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie down roping, team roping, women’s barrel racing, bull riding! Over 500 cowboys and cowgirls compete for over $37,500 in added prize money, plus entertaining specialty acts between events!
Taste of Kansas Dinner Aug 4
This farm to fork dinner brings the best of local Kansas cuisine to you at Shiloh Vineyard and Winery. Las Vegas trained chef & WaKeeney resident, Ean Mong will pair Kansas wines with dishes prepared using only Kansas ingredients for the multi-course dinner. Featuring musical entertainment by Lucas Maddy.
Ranching Saturdays Aug 4
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve – Strong City
experience daily activities on a working ranch. Living history interpreters demonstrate activities such as: stove cooking, music, gardening, quilting, carpentry, roping, fence repair, saddling, wool spinning, sewing, stall cleaning, and housekeeping.
The K&O Farm, Home, & Ranch Show Aug 17-19
Winfield Fair Grounds
The show features a tractor rodeo, garden and antique tractor pulls, arts-and-crafts show, and a variety of other attractions.
Sand Creek Summer Days Aug 17-19
This is not your typical festival! Featuring a Floating Flotilla Parade, Human Foosball Tournament, Cardboard Regatta, and 80s costume contest in addition to all of the usual festival events.
Roots Festival Aug 24 -25
Non-stop music is on the agenda, plus a BBQ Contest, and plenty of crafts and food.
The podcast about culture, travel, people, history, and enterprise in Kansas.