Celebrating Kansas Day

The Newton Kansan

Kansas celebrated its 160th anniversary Friday, a day called Kansas Day in the state. 

Elementary school students in Newton USD 373 were able to take part in a virtual field trip Friday — seeing live presentations from across the state. 

Locally, there are two celebrations — one at the Carriage Factory Gallery and another at Kauffman Museum that will go on Saturday.

Carriage Factory Gallery

In celebration of Kansas Day, Carriage Factory Art Gallery is hosting the fourth annual juried exhibit, “Kansas Through the Eyes of an Artist.” 

In lieu of an opening reception, winners were announced on the gallery’s Facebook page Jan. 23 by Judge Wayne A. Conyers, a retired art teacher from McPherson.

"I have lived my entire life in Kansas. ... I think Kansas is a beautiful state," Conyers said. "Kansas has beautiful people, hard working, industrious people. People who know how to get things done. People who take on tasks and see them through to the end, even if that means exhaustion."

The first-place winner will be awarded $300, with $200 for second place, $100 for third place and three $50 honorable mentions.

"What I do when I jury a show is (ask) 'has the artist done something to make me care?' " Conyers said.

Conyers selected "Tender Moments" by Victor Blakey as the winning entry, which was awarded $300. The piece is a painting of a older, bearded cowboy and his horse. 

"There is so much to talk about here," Conyers said. "Kansans are hard workers. We are a people that go day to working our tails off and then it is getting ready for the next day. ... This guy here, he is tired. He as put in a long day and that comes across. What is interesting is, so is the horse. Look at the connection between nature and man."

Second place and $200 was awarded to "Racing North Like a Ribbon of Orange" by Bob Neace. 

The third-place entry, awarded $100, was "Somewhere Not too Far Away" by Pam Hayes. Honorable mention pieces awarded $50 include "Winding Road" by Marilyn Friesen, "Bucking Bulls" by Jean Cook and "Dormant to Harvest" by Karen Robben

Artists included in the exhibit are Velera Adams, Kayann Ausherman, Victor Blakey, Aaron Jackson Bowman, Tara Clark, Jean Cook, Betty Eller, Marilyn Friesen, Constance Gehring, Mary Goering, Diane Goldschmidt, Pam Hayes, Diane L. Lawrence, Gail Lutsch, John D. Morrison, Kelly Nachtigal, Bob Neace, Virgil Penner, Stephen Perry, Bob Regier, Karen Robben, Kathleen Schroeder, Jim Simpson, Jeffery Sparks, Kathy Waltner, Jennifer Weigel and Cathy L. Wilkins.

The exhibit includes pastels, oils, watercolors, acrylics, colored pencil, photography and mixed media. Works featured in the exhibit are priced between $100 and $3,900 and are available for purchase. A video and digital catalog detailing the works of the show will also be available on the gallery’s website.

— Chad Frey, Newton Kansan

Kauffman Musuem

Kauffman Museum’s annual Kansas Day celebration this year, to be held Saturday, has some opportunities for in-person activities along with virtual options.

Celebrate Kansas Day!, scheduled each year on or near the anniversary of Kansas statehood, is a highlight at Bethel College’s Kauffman Museum. It normally draws hundreds of visitors to celebrate the state, revisit old-fashioned games and traditions, and enjoy the museum indoors and out.

Most of the indoor activities and demonstrations will not take place this year — with some exceptions.

One new item the museum offered in 2021 was Kansas Day in a Box — games, crafts, recipes, foods, maps, activities and some surprise items to help people enjoy Kansas history and culture.

While most boxes were pre-ordered, there will be a limited supply of Kansas Day in a Box available starting at 11 a.m. Saturday at the museum, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Note that Kansas Day in a Box has some small pieces that may be unsafe for young children, so is recommended for ages 4-12, and that the box includes items that contain gluten, sunflower seeds and corn.

This year’s Celebrate Kansas Day! theme, “Cultural Crossroads: Our Stories, Our Foods,” highlights healthy food and healthy habits.

From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the Kauffman Museum parking lot, there will be food trucks and local food producers.

Face coverings must be worn, and physical distancing requirements observed, inside the museum, on the museum grounds and on all Bethel College property, including Sand Creek Trail.

Food vendors confirmed are Le J’s Bar B Q and Tacos Ana’s of Newton and Kansas Cookies by Brenda.

There will be two virtual presentations. At 11 a.m., Glen Ediger, North Newton, will give a program titled “Mennonite – Food – Traditions.”

Ediger is a retired inventor and designer at Vornado Air in Wichita. He is known for his weekly Facebook blog posts at “Mennonite Farmer,” about the history of Mennonite farmers (and their food) from around the world, with more than 5,000 followers in 45 countries.

After his PowerPoint presentation, he will be available to take comments and answer questions on Zoom.

At 2 p.m., Jenny Masias, Newton, Bethel adjunct instructor of Spanish, will describe “The Immigrants Who Built Newton: One Spike at a Time.”

About her program, Masias said, “Whether it is Newton, Wichita, Topeka, Emporia or even larger cities like Los Angeles and Chicago, the proximity of Latino neighborhoods to the train tracks is no coincidence.

“Newton has been a crucial geographical location where the railway traffic not only bridges east to west, north to south, but internationally from Canada to Mexico, creating a bullseye in the center of the country.”

Masias will also be available for questions after her presentation.

You can register for the links at kauffmanmuseum.org (Visit/Events/Celebrate Kansas Day!) or through the Kauffman Museum Facebook page.

The museum will be open free of charge, with controlled entry, for visitors to see the special exhibit “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change” (a companion to the Smithsonian traveling “Crossroads” exhibit that was at the museum through Jan. 17) as well as the permanent exhibits, or to visit the museum store.

“Of Land and People” tells the local story of cultures coming together in the Newton and North Newton community.

On the museum grounds, there will be a few demonstrations and simple, take-home, Kansas Day crafts.

Grazing Plains Farm LLC, rural Newton, will have its limited-batch cheeses for sale, and Adam Akers, Wichita, will demonstrate his vintage washing machines.

The historic farmhouse and barn north of the main museum building will be open for viewing with controlled entry numbers.

Rope jumping with a long rope will take place in the farmstead area.

“We will celebrate the official launch of our first collaborative Book Walk with Newton Public Library,” said Kauffman Museum director Andi Schmidt Andres, “featuring The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson with illustrations by E.B. Lewis.”

Markers, called "pause points",  along the Sand Creek Trail/Trail of Two Cities will be a focal point of Kansas Day activities of Kauffman Museum Jan. 30.

There will also be an opportunity for self-guided walking or biking tours of the “pause points” on the North Newton trails system.

Seven of the eight kiosks will be staffed with volunteers (weather permitting) who can elaborate on the exhibits and answer questions. Visitors can collect a different stamp at each kiosk and be eligible for a prize if they collect all seven stamps.

To get a map and start the trail, guests can park at the museum or at the parking lot near Centennial Dog Park, just north of the “Blue Sky” sculpture on Kansas Avenue in Newton.

Kansas Day community partners include the City of North Newton, Graber’s Ace Hardware, Ardent Mills and Prairy Market and Deli, all in Newton, The Toy Chest in Hutchinson, Bethel College and the Newton Public Library.

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change,” and the permanent exhibits, “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6 (free to all on Kansas Day). For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website, kauffmanmuseum.org, or Facebook page.

— Melanie Zuercher, Bethel College