A Story That Will Make You Cry

Things have been really busy around here lately. Since I got back from a mini vacation in late August, it has been go, go, go.

This weekend, I ventured down to Schoenchen for the first time in my life. The ladies of St. Anthony Altar Society were preparing for their annual German Feast. They were so nice, knowledgeable and fun to be around. I love stories where I can’t wait to get back to the office and write them — and this was one of them.

However, my photographer and I had to go home and cry about it first. You see, not only were they making dumplings and chopping meat and potatoes, they were also “schmeltzing” onions. Standing in the same room made our eyes burn so bad we probably weren’t safe to drive home — and we weren’t even the ones handling the onions!

I’m not sure I’ve ever had felt the need to cry after a story quite like that before.

It’s been so busy around here lately that I haven’t had the opportunity to venture out into our area as much as I like — but the Schoenchen ladies made me feel right at home. I’m just glad I was able to escape before they fired up the sauerkraut.

 

Weekend Guide, Aug. 30, 2013

We have a three-day weekend coming up, and there is definitely three times the events happening in northwest Kansas. I’ll break it down by day.

Saturday

• Dorrance Tailgate: This is the ultimate small-town barbecue competition. And while the parents are tending the grills and smokers, the kids can enjoy turtle races, a bike and 4-wheeler parade and inflatables. A poker run and auction will precede the meats judging in the afternoon. A street dance featuring Ronnie and the Rockits will end the day. Check out last year’s photos and this year’s schedule on the Dorrance Tailgate Facebook page.

Old Settlers Day, Smith Center: Last year was the big one — the big 1-0-0, so naturally the theme of this year’s Old Settlers Day is “Stepping Up to the Next 100 Years.” A parade, inflatables, “The Way They Were” demonstrations at the fairgrounds, kids’ games, a walking/driving tour of historic homes and a quilt display will be featured Saturday. It really is about celebrating history and the people who settled Smith Center.

Sunday

• Luray Friendship Day: I think the name probably says it all in Luray. Labor Day weekend is a time for new and old friends to gather for a barbecue, parade, kids’ games, gospel music and a dance in the park. The 48th annual Friendship Day will also feature a barn quilt display by local artists in the Old Stone Church.

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Logan Labor Day Celebration: Other than it being incredibly hot last year, I thought this was one of the most interesting festivals I covered on my tour of northwest Kansas. A radio control fly-in at the top of the hill north of the golf course is ongoing throughout the day with many RC enthusiasts converging on Logan to show their collection and pilot their favorites. The sand volleyball tournament draws in dozens of teams, and there’s plenty for the kids to do between Mom and Dad’s volleyball games. The Prairie Dusters Drill Team will give horse rides and do a performance in the afternoon. Tethered hot air balloon rides are scheduled for the evening, as well as a Dueling Piano performance (one of my favorite things ever!) and Jimmy Dee and the Fabulous Destinations.

• Old Settlers Day, Russell Springs: Again, last year was the big one — the 125th anniversary of Russell Springs. But as usual, I’m a year behind. Nonetheless, I’ll be heading west for this on Sunday. The parade begins at 10 a.m., followed by the famous cow chip throwing contest north of the old school at 11 a.m. A hamburger feed follows, and there could be some talks on the history of the area. That’s all sponsored by the Butterfield Trail Association. Plus, there’s a barrel racing competition at the arena and Frisbee golf in the park in the afternoon.

Monday

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Natoma Labor Day Celebration: This is actually a three-day event celebrating the 125th anniversary of Natoma this year, but the brunt of the activities are Monday. A mud volleyball tournament and dance to Jimmy Dee and the Fabulous Destinations is Saturday, and a vintage baseball tournament and gospel music festival are Sunday. Monday’s activities include Natoma FFA’s greased pig contest, veterans display, student art show, exotic animals on display, a treasure hunt, parade, Abe and Mary Lincoln portrayal, other historical re-enactors and a grand opening at the local museum.

Weekend Guide, Aug. 23, 2013

Let me preface this by saying that I picked the absolute wrong weekend to go on vacation. There’s some really awesome things going on in northwest Kansas this weekend. Don’t miss out (like me)!

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• Adam’s Apple Festival, Lucas: This year, Lucas has decided to combine its Highland Games and its 40th annual Adam’s Apple Festival into one monstrous event. A color run, the Highland Games, Lucas’ arts scene, a parade, poker run and barbecue, and local entertainment are just a few of the things on the schedule for Saturday. Lucas is a great place to visit anyway, and with this many activities planned, I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

• Alton Summer Jubilee, Alton: I love Alton. It just really is one of my favorite little communities in northwest Kansas. On Saturday, the community hosts its 28th annual Alton Summer Jubilee with a theme of “Keep the Good Times Rolling with Pride.” The jubilee includes a parade, activities for the kids, music in the park, mud volleyball and softball, and a barbecue. An carver will be carving an elk throughout the day that will be placed in Memorial Park. The Bull City Opry Company will put on a show at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night, followed by a dance to Flatspin. A community church service begins at 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

Brewster’s 125th birthday, Brewster: I just found out about this yesterday, and I’m glad I did. “From Horses to Horsepower” is the theme of this town’s birthday party. Many communities in northwest Kansas were founded in 1887 or 1888, and we’ve seen a lot of parties like this in the last year or two. Brewster will celebrate with a chili cook-off, quilt show, car show, parade, talent show and street dance. There’s a community church service and potluck to follow on Sunday morning.

Weekend Guide, Aug. 16, 2013

• Liebenfest, Liebenthal — St. Joseph Catholic Church parishioners will be celebrating the history of the church and the community, starting with Mass at 4 p.m. Saturday and followed by entertainment, games and a BBQ meal.

• Gorham Street Dance — Gorham Community Development Association puts on this event, now in its fourth year. Money raised goes to park improvement projects in town. There will be a BBQ, entertainment from Jared “Pete” Gile and Paramount, games and prizes. The evening activities start at 6 p.m. Saturday, but there’s also a 5K in the morning.

• Hoxie Demolition Derby — It’s just too busy during the Sheridan County Fair to fit in the Demo Derby, so it’s slated for Saturday at the fairgrounds. Spectator gates open at 6 p.m., and the derby starts at 7 p.m. Get your demo car up and running again or just go out and have a good time to support the fair board.

Weekend Guide, Aug. 9, 2013

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Herzogfest, Victoria: The 31st annual German heritage celebration for the city of Victoria features a concert by local favorite LoCash Cowboys, plus polka music from some of Victoria’s finest. Good German food and lots of activities for the kids highlight the two-day event. This is one of those great festivals where you can sit in the city park for two days and visit with anyone and everyone. We have more info in this story.

• Gove Old Settlers Day, Gove: “Diamonds, Denim & Dirt” is the them for the 60th anniversary of this celebration, which starts Friday night and continues through Saturday. There’s a potluck supper Friday followed by a pedal pull and karaoke. Saturday features a 5K, parade, lunch, races, bingo, a balloon toss, volleyball and supper. Midnight Country Fever Band caps the evening.

• WaKeeney Walk-A-Thon: This is where I’m heading Saturday evening. Gove and Trego counties have come together to celebrate survivors of not only cancer, but also other illnesses, such as heart problems. It’s basically the two counties’ version of Relay for Life, but with all money raised staying in the two counties to assist people with their medical expenses. It sounds like a great program and starts at 5:30 Saturday night at the high school track in WaKeeney.

Bazine Picnic: The picnic was resurrected in 2004, so this is the 10th annual Bazine Picnic. It begins with a parade Saturday morning, followed by a flag ceremony, free barbecue in the park, a car show, softball tournament, carnival games, rides from Ness County Amusement Co., golf cart obstacle course races (awesome, by the way), and a dance at 9 p.m. A fireworks display will cap the evening at 10 p.m.

And don’t forget, the Rooks County Free Fair gets underway Sunday and runs through next week.

A Night at the County Fair, Part 4

The last of the county fairs begin next week. Here’s a look:

Northwest Kansas District Free Fair (Aug. 3-10 in Goodland): This was easily my favorite county fair of last summer — and probably because I was completely caught off-guard by how much fun the fair board plans in Goodland. Howdy Rowdy Fun Night is a must for any family, plus there’s motorcycle races, a parade and a demolition derby. The PBR’s Touring Pro Division makes a stop here Wednesday, and the finals of the Texaco Country Showdown will entertain Thursday.

Decatur County Fair (Aug. 6-10 in Oberlin): The home-owned carnival is the featured act each night of the fair, but there’s plenty more to see and do, including a mud volleyball tournament, tough truck competition, kids’ pedal pull and tough truck competition. The 4-H exhibits here will show how dedicated farm kids spend their summer.

Rooks County Free Fair (Aug. 12-17 in Stockton): This is one of the biggest fairs in the area, and it always lives up to its billing. Nightly entertainment includes a concert from country artists Craig Campbell and Sunny Sweeney, stock car races and motorcycle races (which are all the rave in Rooks County), a demolition derby, and a carnival. The livestock barns in Rooks County are maybe the fullest anywhere because of the high-level interest in open-class competitions. Plus, there’s daily entertainment including bingo, a watermelon feed and pet parade on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

A Night at the County Fair, Part 3

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Yesterday, I ventured out to the Sheridan County Fair. Luckily, they were able to get most activities in before the much-needed rain came pouring down in the evening. But, as a result, I wasn’t able to see the storied home-owned carnival in action. There was still plenty to see and do at the fair, though. An “Old Timers” Round Robin Showmanship brought out a few former 4-H’ers to see if they could recall their showing techniques. And I always love seeing the photography and woodworking exhibits from 4-H’ers, open class exhibitors and FFA members. Those exhibits always show craftsmanship and creativity at their best.

If you haven’t been out to a fair yet, there’s still time to see what the youth of today is working on. Here’s what’s coming up next week:

Graham County Fair (July 26-31 in Hill City): Things get started in Hill City today with Tuff Trux in the evening. A concert is scheduled for Saturday night, and a comedy show will be Sunday night. The fair parade will be Monday evening before the Jayhawker Roundup Rodeo, and there’s lots of educational and 4-H displays to see on the fairgrounds if you venture out for the rodeo.

Thomas County Fair (July 29-Aug. 3 in Colby): A rodeo kicks off the week of evening entertainment Monday and Tuesday, followed by the Texaco Country Showdown on Wednesday — a regional talent show for aspiring country singers. Thursday night features the livestock auction after all 4-H shows have concluded, and country band Restless Heart will take the stage Friday night. A demo derby wraps up the week with a Saturday night performance.

Trego County Fair (July 30-Aug. 4 in WaKeeney): Grab your Wranglers and head out to WaKeeney on Friday night for the fair’s featured entertainment — members of George Strait’s backup band. Right before the concert will be a George Strait look-alike contest, and I can’t wait to see who enters. Other evening entertainment throughout the week includes car races, a barbershop quartet performance and Tim Anthony and the Anamals in concert. This fair always has large numbers of animal projects, so check out the 4-H’ers’ work while you’re there.

Cheyenne County Fair (July 31-Aug. 3 in St. Francis): The fair in the farthest northwest county in Kansas is getting back to its roots with lots of 4-H judging, a team roping event, Tuff Trucks, home-owned carnival and a tractor pull. A parade and mud volleyball get the final day started Saturday before a demolition derby wraps up fair week.

Rush County Fair (July 31-Aug. 3 in La Crosse): This is probably one of my favorite fairs in the area. Everything is really accessible, there’s plenty of exhibits to catch your eye, and the home-owned carnival is very kid-friendly. This year, the evening entertainment starts Wednesday night with Reba McEntire’s little sister (who looks just like her, by the way). The rest of the week is filled with a game show road show, URSS Spring car races and a concert by the Drew Davis Band.

Weekend Guide, July 26, 2013

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Czech Festival, Wilson: This was probably one of my favorite events of last summer. It was just really cool to see how heritage could mix with new ideas. You can start your weekend with a little car smashing Thursday night, then watch bands battle it out Friday night. Saturday is a full day of activities, including the Czech Queen Pageant, Czech egg painting demonstrations and music (including lots of polka). If you go, you have to schedule your trip around seeing the Czech dancers (a dozen or more local girls in matching outfits dancing around the maypole like Czechs of old). It’s adorable!

Emancipation and Homecoming Celebration, Nicodemus: Check out this story that appeared in the paper already this week. It has all the details on the 135th celebration of Emancipation and Homecoming in tiny Nicodemus.

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Tri-State Antique Engine and Thresher Show, Bird City: This just might be the biggest engine show in our area, and it’s celebrating 60 years this year. It runs Thursday through Saturday on the grounds on the east side of Bird City. See steam engines in action, and peruse the hundreds of antique tractors on display. This is truly a community event, and it’s great to hear stories from some of the old-timers.

Coming up next week:

• Jayhawker Roundup Rodeo, Hill City: I love the Hill City rodeo arena. I’ve been there a few times now, and there’s just something about it. It’s small enough that it makes you feel right at home next to other rodeo fans, but it’s big enough to put on a three-night show that could rival any other. The Jayhawker will draw cowboys and cowgirls from all over for the KPRA-sanctioned rodeo, with performances scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday evenings. The Prairie Dusters are scheduled to be entertainment all three nights, and the newest singing sensation from Ellis, Rylee Werth, will perform her now famous rendition of the national anthem Monday night right before the rodeo begins. Tuesday is Tough Enough to Wear Pink night at the rodeo grounds.

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Kansas’ Biggest Rodeo, Phillipsburg: If you don’t know what this is, you haven’t lived here long. After all, it is the biggest rodeo in Kansas. The rodeo starts at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday nights next week (Aug. 1-3). There’s a barbecue before Thursday’s performance (it’s also pink night), and a dance will follow Friday and Saturday’s performances. Don’t miss the downtown parade at 2 p.m. Saturday (last year, they had a parade of longhorns!).

A Night at the County Fair, Part 2

I’m headed out to the local Ellis County Fair tomorrow night to check out the exhibits and entertainment. There’s plenty more where that came from next week all across the area.

Gove County Fair (July 22-25 in Grainfield): You’ll have a “Boot Scootin’ Good Time” with an ag challenge of champions, barnyard olympics, livestock shows and the annual livestock auction and pie sale filling evening activities. The week begins with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. July 23 with the Gove County 4-H Horse Club putting on a show.

• Wallace County Fair (July 22-27 in Sharon Springs): The home-owned carnival runs July 25-27, with 4-H happenings throughout the week.

• Ellis Junior Free Fair (July 23-28 in Ellis): Hog wrestling returns for the first time in years, and I’ve heard there’s at least 25 teams registered for this Saturday night highlight. There’s the usual washer, horseshoe and volleyball tournaments to start the week, then kids’ game night Thursday. The Ellis Sunflowers 4-H Club will sponsor chicken bingo Thursday through Saturday nights. And don’t forget, the 4-H’ers have plenty to show during the week, too.

Russell County Fair (July 22-26 in Russell): A full week of activity is on tap in Russell, with nightly entertainment including local dance girls putting on a show, mutton bustin’ at the arena, concerts, a Minute to Get It competition and arm wrestling. Lewellen Carnival will be in town, and Wolf Barnyard Animals will be on display each evening.

Sheridan County Fair (July 23-27 in Hoxie): From what I’ve heard, the home-owned carnival in Hoxie is one of the best in the area, and I’m hoping to make it up there next week. There’s an old-timers round robin showmanship Thursday afternoon, Barnyard Olympics on Friday, plus a parade and rodeo Friday night (the rodeo continues Saturday night).

• Osborne County Fair (July 24-28 in Osborne): Scarecrows and hay bales will be decorated during the week for judging during this fair. Stock car races serve as entertainment Wednesday and Thursday evening, and Friday wraps up with a fair parade and a demolition derby.

Phillips County Fair (July 26-30 in Phillipsburg): The fair here precedes the biggest rodeo in the state. During the fair, there will be a free concert Friday night, a greased pig contest and free comedy show Saturday night, plus a ranch rodeo Sunday night. This fair is unique because you can view exhibits and see more 4-H judging events Monday and Tuesday after the evening entertainment is over.

Weekend Guide, July 19, 2013

I don’t know where time goes, but the school supplies are already out at Walmart, and July is more than half over. There’s some interesting things happening in northwest Kansas in the next few weeks, so I encourage you to get out and enjoy them.

• North-South Solomon Antique Plow Day, Lebanon: The 11th annual event begins with an operator’s meeting at 9:15 Saturday morning, followed by plowing at 9:30 a.m. 1960s and older equipment is preferred. Visit the farm, located 9 miles east of Smith Center on U.S. 36, then 6 miles south on Y Road to 230 Road, to see the plows in action.

Pickin’ on the Plains, Colby: Bluegrass and folk music lovers will enjoy spending some time on the Thomas County Fairgrounds this weekend. Music begins Friday night and continues through Sunday afternoon. There are workshops for the amateur pickers among us, plus music from a half dozen or so bands.

• After Harvest Festival, Grinnell: Last year, the festival consisted of a small-town gathering, with games and activities for kids and adults, an evening meal, class reunions and more. It’s an all-day event, and a great time to socialize.