Tuesday, May 8, 2012


     Last weekend I attended a grand celebration of Kansas and Kansans in Liberal.  The KANSAS SAMPLER FESTIVAL is a unique happening in Kansas.  No other state has anything like it.  It is a grand showcase of the towns, communities, sites, talent, produce, and people.
     Without the final count I will estimate that 5000 or more people went thru the two days in Light Park.  The town of Liberal put its best foot forward to host the event.  I saw the city in a whole new light.  Before I have only passed thru on 54 highway on my way elsewhere.  And the east part of town is decieving since the first thing seen is the landfill and auto slavage yards.   (there are some cool old cars and trucks in those yards though).  Then you pass one of the major industries, the packing plant.
     What you find is a diverse cultural mix with many unique shops and resturants and a bustling business environment.  With the theme of the Yellow Brick Road they capitalize on the Wizard of Oz.  With Dorthy's House and a museum.  But they have a world class aircraft museum also.
     It was a perfect backdrop for showcasing everything Kansas.  The year of planning and work that requires a community that puts itself into action and not words. 
     Of course there would never have been a Kansas Sampler Foundation if it had not been for Marci Penner and her folks.  Also the work of Assistant Director Wendee LaPlant and a great board of directors.  The Sampler started on their farm near Inman providing a setting where the small communities of the state could show off and create interest.  It grew bigger than the farm and moves to a new location every two years.  This year and next is Liberal.
     It is a location full of positive energy and all the communities that exhibit are doing what it takes to build interest and visitation.  It is really something to see who is not setting on their laurels watching the town die.  It makes you wonder where the other towns were?  It does take effort to put your best foot forward whereas it only takes setting on your buns to watch your town die and lament the passing.
     There was a full house meeting of the Kansas Travelers.  A membership of people that has a hobby of daytripping and visiting these areas.  I have talked about them before.  Some are on quests.  At least 3 are taking pictures of every courthouse in the state.  Another has the goal of driving at least 25 unpaved miles in each county.  There have been quests to eat a steak in each county, visit stone bridges, support small post offices, eat chicken fried steaks, homade pies and much more.  They are looking at topping the 5000 member mark soon.
     I know, if you would like to support Kansas while enjoying yourselves, google the Kansas Sampler Foundation and join the Kansas Travelers.  Then meet me next year at the 20 foot pancake cooker for breakfast in Liberal the first weekend of May in 2013.

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