Summer Travel Ideas: Dodge City
Of course anyone can go online and research a trip. But it isn’t every day you’re able to get vacation planning ideas straight from the Director of a Visitors Bureau. That’s exactly what you’ll get in this (part II) episode. Rachel talks with Jan Stevens, the Director of the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau and Joni Whitman, the event coordinator for Dodge City Days. So....Want to learn to mosey? have a hankering to try some Prickly Ash Bitters? or want to enjoy a rodeo? Then you’re sure to have yourself a great time in Dodge.
Dodge City Travel Site
Boot Hill Museum
Dodge City Round Up
Boot Hill Distillery
Dodge City Brewing
Red Beard Coffee
Carnegie Art Center
Dodge City Trolley
Dodge City Days
Boot Hill Casino
Summer Travel Ideas: Hays
It’s finally stopped snowing, and the rains have come, and the kids are getting out of school. You’re starting to plan your summer vacation. Part of our mission is to encourage Kansans to get out and learn more about our state, so we’ve put together a new travel episode series (that we’ll post every once in awhile) that allows you to listen to locals share places to see and things to do in their towns in order to give you ideas for your travel plans. For summer 2019, we are going to highlight 3 great towns for a summer vacation: Hays, Dodge City, and Manhattan.
In our first episode, we talk with Melissa Dixon, Executive Director of the Hays Convention and Visitors Bureau. There are lots of things to do in Hays, and it makes a great base camp to explore the surrounding attractions. Whether you visit Fort Hays to see how the soldiers lived before there was I-70 to get us across the plains, or the world famous Sternberg museum for its amazing fossil collection, or spend the day at the aquatic park, you’ll enjoy yourself in Hays. If you go to Hays this summer, share pictures with us on our Facebook Page!
Hays Tourism Website
Gella’s Diner and LB Brewery
Hays Aquatic Park
On The Bricks
Larks Baseball Games
Hays Art Walk
Wild West Festival
Ellis County Fair
Tour die Kapellen
Side Trips from Hays:
Cathedral of the Plains
David Hanzlick is a native Kansan who has written a book titled Benevolence, Moral Reform, Equality: Women’s Activism in Kansas City, 1870-1940. Most of us have forgotten that the women’s movement started long before we started burning our bras in the 1960s. In the early days of Kansas City —when we were still a frontier town and a newly forming society— the women of Kansas City had a national voice in the push for equality under the guise of moral reform. This was the generation that brought child labor laws to the mainstream, introduced the concept of public kindergartens, and was successful in getting women seated on school boards for the first time.
We should never take for granted today the hard fought progressive milestones won in the days when Kansas City was beginning to be a railroad hub for the nation. David has brought together the story of how these women fought for equality, with the objective of ensuring a safe and positive home environment for their families.
[Update and disclosure: During the interview of David, Rachel mentions her (then upcoming) plans to climb Mount Sunflower as part of the 2019 Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT). Due to two serious events affecting two different family members, she and Geoff were unable to attend the 2019 BKRT and they have yet to climb Mount Sunflower. A travel scheme meant to rectify this situation is being developed.]
Benevolence, Moral Reform, Equality - Women's Activism in Kansas City, 1870-1940
Belleville High Banks Track
North Central Kansas Free Fair
Works Progress Administration
Worlds Largest Concrete Prairie Dog – now closed, but check out Prairie Dog State Park instead
Pawnee Indian Museum
Carrie Nation Home in Medicine Lodge
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
Angie Pickman is a Kansas artist with a national reputation. Angie imagines and creates artwork in her Lawrence studio that is a modern twist on the traditional Chinese art form of paper cutting. Her love of nature is front and center in her work and growing up in Kansas provided her with a wealth of inspiration. In this Uncovering Kansas episode, Rachel talks with Angie about her round trip journey from Kansas to New York. While travelling her creative path Angie built both her talent and her fanbase, her career flourishes as a result. Rachel and Angie discuss how several stereotypes about Kansas aren't true.To learn more about Angie, please visit her website, Rural Pearl.
Other things we talked about:
An Example of Lotte Reiniger’s work
Lawrence Art Walk
The Sallie House – Haunted Home
Amelia Earhart Birthplace
The Smallest Presidential Library
Chalk Pyramids (aka Monument Rocks)
Kansas Storytelling Festival
Once upon a time…
That’s a classic way to begin a story. And it’s the right way to begin this episode.
We’re certain listeners will uncover something interesting about this Kansas event. Please note that this year’s event is scheduled for April 26 and 27, 2019.
Kansas Storytelling Festival website
Get to Know a Kansan: Andy Wise
Andy Wise found himself unmotivated by the conference rooms at his office filled with blank walls. He longed to see whiteboards at his workplace covered in art. A trip to his local library gave him an idea to create a robot that could be attached to the white board and draw whatever picture it was asked to draw.
And, so Andy created what he calls a drawing robot.
He is an example of someone participating in the Maker Movement – a DIY movement that started to gain momentum in 2005. Technology is often a component of this movement but it doesn’t have to be. We discuss Maker Spaces, locations designed for people to come together and work on projects. There are many of these found across Kansas: Andy refers to the Johnson County Library Makerspace in Overland Park. (Other examples are MakeICT in Wichita, and 712 Innovations in Topeka, and Fort Hays State Makerspace in the Forsyth Library.)
Listeners with certain Kansas interests, will note my conversation with Andy Wise includes the following:
Liberty Hall, Lawrence Kansas
Kansas State Fair
John Steuart Curry
If you want to see the drawing robot in action, check out these links:
Cedar Point Mill
This mini-episode contains on-location interview with Wichita native and Kansas City Developer Dan Clothier, who gave us a tour of the Cedar Point Mill during the Chase County Christmas event (see episode 10). Cedar Point Mill is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of the most fascinating buildings Geoff recalls ever having come across (Kansas is not immediately thought of as a place of old millhouses constructed of stone). The structure needs restoration. Learn about the process and efforts to restore this piece of history. And if interested in contributing to the efforts, you can donate through the Cedar Point Mill website. More about the history of the Cedar Point Mill, here.
Note: in the episode, I refer to Dan as a volunteer, but he is also the owner of the mill.
Manhattan for Nature Lovers
Kansas is known, often infamously so, as a flat state. For those of us who have done some exploring, we know that isn’t true. There are plenty of flat stretches, certainly. But there are also areas where the hills undulate and take your breath away. The Flint Hills are spread across the central part of Kansas, and Manhattan is situated toward the upper end the expanse. In this episode, we will talk with Eric Doran, who has spent the last 10 years exploring the Flint Hills. Eric shares some of his favorite places to visit in and around Manhattan for those who love to explore nature and take in the beauty Kansas offers.
Manhattan may not be Hollywood, but it does have a similar sign, right at the top of Manhattan Hill, or Blue Mont Hill. Hike up to the top of this hill for a great view of the Flint Hills.
Though not a name anyone would expect for a Kansas location, Top of the World is another place you can hike to see the surrounding views of Manhattan and the Flint Hills. These well groomed trails are easily accessible, and the trail is a fantastic way to enjoy the company of your dog.
A visit to the Konza Prairie Biological Station gives you a chance to see how the tall grass prairie is being studied and preserved by the Nature Conservancy and K-State’s Division of Biology. This joint venture is primarily focused on long-term ecological research, prairie preservation, and education, but they offer hiking trails open to the public, so everyone has a chance to experience the prairie first hand. The trails range from 2.6 to 6.2 miles and are considered moderate due to the occasional steep climb.
Linear Park Trail is a loop around the city of Manhattan and offers the most urban trail covered in this episode. This is a great option for bikers and joggers since it is about a 9-mile loop.
Manhattan River Trail is a 5.4-mile loop that runs along the river. It is a great option for mountain bikers, but is also good for hiking. It is considerate a moderate trail due to the terrain along the river.
Pillsbury Crossing will give you the chance to see something you don’t see often in Kansas – a waterfall. This is a beautiful wildlife area that is situated at a low river crossing area – a section of a river that is low and allows for crossing of vehicles and, in the good old days, wagons. While you are here, check out the Deep Creek Schoolhouse, build in 1892.
If you want an education in the Flint Hills check out the Flint Hills Discovery Center, whose mission is to inspire people to celebrate, explore, and care for the Flint Hills, a moving landscape Kansas hosts.
If you want to be guaranteed to be surrounded by animals, then Sunset Zoo is a great option and can enjoy both Flint Hills flora and fauna.
The Gardens at Kansas State University offers the opportunity to visit a botanical garden right in the heart of the Flint Hills. The garden gives students the opportunity to develop, maintain, and operate a world class botanical garden and is open to the public.
Liquid Art Winery grows grapes in the Flint Hills, and it is a great place in Manhattan to wind down after a long day exploring nature. Sit outdoors and watch the sun setting below the hills while enjoying a glass of wine.
If you are looking for something a little more adventurous, you can zipline through the Flint Hills at Wildwood Outdoor Adventure Park.
Chase County Country Christmas
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
Big Kansas Road Trip - Pop Up Restuarant
While on the Big Kansas Road Trip, I came up with an idea to set up a pop-up restaurant in small towns in Kansas that can't support a wide variety or large number of restaurants. I think it would be fun, but can't pull it off by myself. So if you are interested in joining the effort to establish a pop-up restaurant in Kansas small towns, let me know by sending me a note through the form. We won't use this information for anything else.
Big Kansas Road Trip - The Experience
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)
Big Kansas Road Trip - Highlights
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.
On this episode, we uncover a unique program in Johnson County Kansas that enables and encourages commercial art-making by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Papercrete Works is a program created by Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS) that marries art, commerce, and recycling to create an opportunity for clients of JCDS to earn an hourly wage. I learned of the program’s existence when I visited their open studio at InterUrban ArtHouse.
The term Papercrete is used to describe a mixture of cement, water, and recycled paper that gets poured into molds to make flower pots, picture frames, paperweights, decorative bowls, and other art objects. The process requires a wide range of skill sets, and allows people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to put their skills to work for an hourly wage. Some people shred the recycled paper, some mix the concrete, others fill the molds, use fine motor skills to paint the items, and even learn sales and marketing skills when the items are sold at art shows or other events.
One of my goals for Uncovering Kansas is to help educate Kansans about interesting and innovative things going on in Kansas and to start conversations that discuss and challenge stereotypes. And I think Papercrete Works art studio does this. There are many ways to look at programs like this, but as soon as I walked into the Papercrete Works art studio, I knew this would be an enlightening interview for me. I sat down with Micah Wickstrom, Ben Koontz, Jaimie Cureton, and Deb Bartholomew to talk about the program. Michah is the Papercrete Works Program Coordinator, Deb is a JCDS Team Lead, and both Ben and Jaimie are clients of JCDS who are working for Papercrete Works.
I enjoyed learning about the success the program is having in just 2 ½ years. The program assists people like Ben and Jaime with necessary skills development to participate in the the community. To learn more about the program, check out their website. If you are in Johnson County, their open studio at InterUrban ArtHouse is on the 3rd Friday of each month.
In this episode we uncover an innovation approach to solving one of the issues facing our foster care system. (Note: the podcast is an abridged version of the interview.)
The foster care system in Kansas is facing some pretty big challenges. With about 7,600 children in foster care in Kansas, there are only about 2,700 approved foster families. This means that a lot of foster children are sleeping in a different location every night, or in the foster care offices on couches or cots.
Sarah Oberndorfer has come up with a plan to help address this issue by creating a community of foster homes in Basehor, Kansas, called Joy Meadows. By creating a neighborhood where all of the homes are foster families, there is a built-in support structure that will reduce foster family burnout, increase capacity for foster children, and ensure more siblings get to stay together. In addition, the neighborhood will have a community center that will allow social services to come to the families, reducing the amount of time spent driving to and from appointments.
On this episode of Uncovering Kansas, we talk to Sarah about foster care and her plan for Joy Meadows. We think that you’ll learn a lot about the state of foster care in Kansas and find that another innovative Kansan has come up with a great idea to help improve the system.
To learn more about Joy Meadows, please visit the Joy Meadows website.
In this episode of Uncovering Kansas, we talk with Kate McNair, Managing Editor of Elementia Literary Magazine, a publication written, edited, and produced completely by teens.
August Festivals in Kansas
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.
Green Guitar Folk House
In this episode of Uncovering Kansas, we talk with Mike Paget, the founder of Green Guitar Folk House, a music series in Lenexa, KS that brings national touring singer songwriters into an intimate venue for people who love music.
Welcome to Uncovering Kansas
The podcast about culture, travel, people, history, and enterprise in Kansas.
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