Museum adapts Kansas Day activities to pandemic

Melanie Zuercher
Special to The Kansan

Kauffman Museum’s annual Kansas Day celebration this year has some opportunities for in-person engagement along with virtual options.

The celebration itself is Jan. 30, but families who want to participate in “Kansas Day in a Box” need to order by Jan. 20, at

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

Due to COVID-19, Kauffman Museum is offering Kansas Day in a Box, in addition to some in-person activities, to give families the option to celebrate in the safety and comfort of their own homes, in person in North Newton, or both.

Each box will include games, crafts, recipes, foods, maps, activities and some surprise items to help people enjoy Kansas history and culture.

Pre-ordered Kansas Day boxes can be picked up at the museum (corner of N. Main and 27th streets in North Newton) from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Jan. 26-29 or after 11 a.m. Jan. 30, or mailed for an additional fee.

A limited supply of Kansas Day in a Box will be available starting at 11 Jan. 30, without pre-registration (first come, first served).

And for those who want to participate in some Kansas Day in a Box fun with others, on Jan. 30, Kristin Neufeld Epp from New Creation Preschool in Newton will host an “unboxing” live on Zoom.

Details on how to participate in the unboxing will be sent or given to all who buy boxes.

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.

Starting at 11 a.m. and lasting until 4 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Kauffman Museum parking lot, there will be food trucks, local food producer booths and do-it-yourself craft kits to take home.

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.

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

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

To get Zoom links for the presentations, see or the Kauffman Museum Facebook page.

The museum will be open with limited entry Jan. 30 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.

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

Local food producers and organizations interested in healthy lifestyles will have educational displays on the museum grounds, where there will also be a few demonstrations and a simple, take-home, Kansas Day craft project.

The historic farmhouse will be open for viewing with limited entry numbers.

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.

Guests can park and start the trail at the museum, or at the parking lot near Centennial Dog Park, just north of the Blue Sky sculpture on Kansas Avenue in Newton.