There is one myth about our state that the Kansas Sampler Foundation's Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe hope to debunk.

 

"People think there's nothing to see and do in Kansas," Penner said.

 

Penner and Rowe recently published "The Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers." The guidebook gives a description of notable places in every county in Kansas.

 

"You think you know all there is, but of course we found new little things," Penner said. "You hope it gives them a different perspective on what all Kansas has to offer."

 

While some places the team visited were familiar to them, they found new places to highlight as well.

 

"We always love walking over the swinging bridge at Harvey County West Park and it was fun to go again to Kauffman Museum and Dyck Arboretum — the regular places," Penner said.

 

Their trips to Harvey County revealed the Fountain of Brotherhood in Walton and the Happy Hollow Gift Shop and Swiss Mennonite Memorial in Moundridge.

 

With 4,500 entries, those searching for something new to see in Kansas will not have to look far. The 480-page guidebook provides descriptions, directions, hours and contact information for each entry. The authors included more than 1,600 color pictures of the 626 places they visited over four years.

 

"We probably took a thousand pictures every day, at least," Penner said. "You go to all 626 and there's a lot of comparing and contrasting."

 

With listings of more than 840 places to eat, the guidebook highlights locally owned Kansas restaurants, cafes and soda fountains.

 

"We ate our way across the state," Penner laughed. "One time, we had to eat two hamburgers within one hour because each restaurant claimed they had the best."

 

Traveling in a brightly colored SUV, the pair attracted attention wherever they stopped for lunch.

 

"Everyone in the cafe, of course, looks at you," Penner said. "They're just staring and wondering, so you might as well tell them what you're doing."

 

Once she explained they were working on a Kansas guidebook, floodgates of hospitality and information were opened to them.

 

"The best thing for Wendy and I was getting to talk with the people," Penner said. "Mostly, people were absolutely wonderful and wanted to tell you all sorts of things."

 

The pair went into barber shops and beauty salons, visiting with local residents and getting the scoop on places that were off the beaten path.

 

"You can't go everywhere when it's open, so you rely on the locals who know what to do," Penner said.

 

After thousands of miles traveled and phone calls made to verify details, Penner says she has a new appreciation for all that Kansas has to offer.

 

"When you're researching, you always see things with new eyes," Penner said. "One thing that's so cool about doing a guidebook for explorers is you hope to find people who are interested in finding these remote places."

 

Kansas towns have a rich diversity in their geography and architectural styles.

 

"It's interesting seeing how different towns are from one county to another," Penner noted.

 

What is not in the book, Penner noted, is the memories of the thousands of people she talked with and the tremendous work they do to keep these unique places running.

 

"You wish you had a million dollars to divvy out as you go across the state. There's so many places that you want to help out," Penner said.

 

"The Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers" is designed to help achieve the mission of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, which is to preserve and sustain rural culture. 

 

"It's very gratifying to hear people use it. We don't do it to be a tourism marketing book, we do it to sustain the mission of our organization," Penner said. "With a guidebook, it's easier to make your way into a city you don't know."

 

Penner and Rowe will sign their book at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Kauffman Museum.

 

"The Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers" can be found at Happy Hollow Gift Shop, 420 N. Wedel Ave., Moundridge; Dyck Arboretum, 177 W. Hickory, Hesston; Anderson's, 627 N. Main St., Newton; Faith and Life Bookstore, 606 N. Main St., Newton; or Kauffman Museum, 2801 N. Main, North Newton. To order the book online, go to https://www.kansassampler.org.