Saturday, February 28, 2009

"The Nature of Kansas Lands"

While not only about the Flint Hills, the review of the book: "The Nature of Kansas Lands," edited by Beverley Worster, University Press of Kansas, 2008, $34.95, by Sarah Burke, in The Emporia Gazette, suggests some really good coverage and good photos of the Kansas Flint Hills. Burke says: "The Flint Hills in Chase County are mentioned in loving detail. While reading this you can vividly imagine the photographer's journey to find the heart of the Flint Hills. The photographer describes the Flint Hills: 'Like the sea, this land swells and ripples. But this land has a body, bones, and muscles. It is hard flesh.' (Page 37)."

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Friday, February 27, 2009

E-Mail Newsletters Show Positive Benefits

This is the title of Jane Eckert's latest blog entry. It is excellent advice, not only for the agri-tourism folks she targets, but all small businesses which I target in my other life; including many who read this regularly. I first met Jane nearly five years ago at the first meeting on AgriTourism that I attended in Emporia on July 14, 2004. Her advice has always been good. If you agree, I would recommend subscribing to her newsletter, or to the RSS feed, which I get on my iGoogle.

I also hope to include this reference, along with others, in the next edition of the Flint Hills Insider Electronic Newsletter, that we send to all annual members of the Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. I hope you will join, if you haven't already, so you will be on this important mailing list for the this new quarterly newsletter. I hope to see you on the next update of the annual membership list.

While you are at the annual membership page, and if you are not already getting the free quarterly Flint Hills Heritage Newsletter, please click the "Subscribe to the Newsletter" button on the left of the screen, to get on that mailing list.... back copies of the free Heritage Newsletter can be seen here.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Flint Hills Gobblers Plan 8th Annual Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic

On March 28, the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Hunter Education Program will conduct its 8th Annual Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic. The event will take place at Camp Alexander, near Emporia, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is open to anyone interested in learning how to become a better turkey hunter, especially youth, and it's free. See more details at infoZone.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Next Workday at Pioneer Bluffs

Here is the latest notice from Pioneer Bluffs:

There will be a lot going on a week from Saturday. We hope you can join us on March 7 at Pioneer Bluffs - come for the morning, the afternoon, or the whole day! Here's the day's itinerary:

8:30 am: Coffee and chat about what's happening in our community

9:00 am: Volunteer Workday

Beginning mid-morning: Watch a team of horses driven by Jan and Winston Sommerfield prepare the garden, disc the soil, just like 1916!

Noon: Lunch provided

2:00 pm: A Chase County Cowgirl: Marge Roberts Minta Van Nortwick performs as one of the ropin' ridin' Roberts of rodeo fame.

Contact (Lynn) or check out (the) website if questions. We look forward to seeing you in the beautiful Flint Hills on Saturday, March 7!

Lynn Smith
Executive Director
Pioneer Bluffs Foundation
620.753.3484 office
785.393.1569 cell

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Rural Culture Elements - Our Inheritance

Today, I want to follow-up on the Heritage Conference last Friday with a discussion that I believe pulls together elements from the presentations of Jim Hoy, Judge Tacha, and Marci Penner. I believe it also helps us move forward as a Heritage Area, toward recognition as a National Heritage Area (NHA), here in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

As noted earlier, Judge Tacha spoke of "our inheritance" from our forefathers; our stewardship of the stories in the present; and how they will inform the future. Jim Hoy shared many of those stories, told by our local festivals, from the past and present. Marci Penner, in her presentation, reminded us how we can use the eight Rural Culture Elements, developed by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, in each of our communities, to remember, share and create these critical stories. I want to devote this brief article to that point.

A fundamental purpose we have in common among our partners in Heritage Area Development, the Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, and the Kansas Sampler Foundation, is our desire to see our rural communities perserved, maintained and prosper; creating conditions that will encourage our young people to stay and return to our rural communities. One great way to accomplish this is to conduct activites, events, festivals, etc. that will encourage visits by persons outside our communites to come join us in these celebrations. They can have great experiences, create memories to take with them, leave some money happily spent, and return home to tell their friends and neighbors about their great experiences in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

Quoting from Rural Culture Elements: "Many rural communities squirm when asked, 'What does your community have that a visitor would want to see?' ... The truth is every town has a story to tell and offer visitors but it is sometimes hard to see what is right under your nose." This is "our inheritance" to which Judge Tacha referred. Marci Penner's Rural Culture Elements then goes on to discuss, as she did at the Conference, the eight elements that have been developed to help each of us discover "those stories" that are "right under your nose."

These eight elements, of course, are:

So, after you've thought about these, even for a few minutes, what story in your community comes to your mind?? Have you written it down? Do it, right now. Sharing orally is great, but the story needs to be written down.

Even share it is a comment, below, if you wish!

Even better, go to our wikispace:
[Please register with your own used id and password; use those to log in, each time]
and add your story, to record it for others to read and consider. You can do this, yourself, but feel free to contact me at if you have questions.

If we will each do our part, together with our friends and neighbors throughout the Flint Hills, we can and will do great things for our region. Thank you, in advance, for your continued participation.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heritage Conference Successes, Part 2

The Theme of the 2009 Flint Hills Heritage Conference was:

Celebrate our Festivals!
Celebrate our Heritage!
Make the Connection!

Marci Penner, Inman, KS, Executive Director, Kansas Sampler Foundation, spoke to the conference assemblage on celebrating our heritage by celebrating our communities and festivals. She reminded us that our rural Kansas communities have a lot to celebrate.

Marci suggested that successful festival planning focuses on special attention to four groups: the audience, the volunteers, the media, and the planning committee. Each of these four groups require focused attention in order for our festival to be all it can be. In addition, each element benefits if each year, something new can be added for each element.

Following her presentation and a break, Marci moderated a panel of festival representatives. This was not a panel sitting in front of the group! Marci took the portable mike around the entire room, in four or five passes, asking the panelists to respond to a series of key questions - then asking for responses from other audience members about their festivals on the same topics. It was a highly informative, high energy, audience participation event. Neat! Most of the 90 registrants had the opportunity to take part. We each learned a number of things to take back to our local festival planning committees for consideration. Panelists represented, among others, the Hedgeball Chunkin' festival in Eureka, the Tulip Festival in Wamego, the Symphony in the Flint Hills, the Outhouse Festival in Elk Falls, and the Native Stone Festival in Alma.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Heritage Conference Successes, Part 1

In this first report on the 2009 Flint Hills Heritage Conference I want to focus briefly on some of the comments of Judge Deanell Tacha, Lawrence, KS, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge and Board Chair of Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area (NHA). She really helped up understand the benefits and the challenges of pursueing our goal of a Flint Hills NHA.

Judge Tacha and Dr. Bill at 2009 Heritage Conference

She summarized the experiences, trials and tribulations, and successes of the FFNHA over the years. She first reminded us that it is "our inheritance" that is at the heart of a NHA - local people recognizing that they have an "inheritance" from those who came before; must be good stewards of the STORIES of that inheritance; and are responsible to pass on all of that to those who come after us for future generations. These stories both celebrate our past and inform our future. Judge Tacha emphasized that all NHA participation is entirely volutary. People must be ready in their own way, to participate.

Judge Tacha noted the importance of the Themes to the whole - all "must unify to benefit." Her brief review of how the participants from both Kansas and Missouri in the FFNHA had to rethink their positions on the "border wars" as part of becoming a working NHA was very useful. Finally, she reminded us of the critical imporantance of PARTNERSHIPS... many, many partnerships... to allow the whole concept of the NHA to work. Each NHA will differ in details, but the development plans each follow a common pattern. With regard to recognition legislation, Judge Tacha reiterated what I have heard before: there are likely to be no more National Parks created. Policy makers see the NHA movement as the most logical private-public collarobative way to meet those needs. We hope to be a part of that.

We had 90 registrants at the 2009 Heritage Conference in El Dorado on Friday. It was a great experience.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Symphony in the Flint Hills - June 13, 2009

The Winter 2009 Newsletter of the Symphony in the Flint Hills recently arrived to remind us that the 2009 Symphony will be on Saturday, June 13, 2009. The 5,000 general admission tickets go on sale April 6th, through the Kansas City Symphony box office... they usually sell out in a very few hours.

This year, the symphony will be held in the tallgrass praire (privately owned ranchland) on the Doyle Creek Land and Cattle Company Ranch, Upper Turkey Springs pasture, near Florence, south of Cedar Point. The theme is "Discover This Place." See the Symphony website for more information.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Farm Living - latest statistics

The U. S. Department of Agriculture last week reported on its Census of Agriculture with the headline being that the number of farms increased by 4 percent from 2002 to 2007, with most of the new farms being small, part-time operations. As reported in the New York Times, a closer look at the numbers shows that American farming is becoming a story of extremes: of really big farms and really small ones. About 900,000 of the nation's 2.2 million farms generated $2,500 or less in sales in 2007. By contrast, 5 percent of total farms, about 125,000 operations, accounted for 75 percent of agricultural productions.

The new agriculture secretary, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, was quoted as saying: "You have to take a holistic approach and create the understanding that the whole thing is diversification." He further said that the agency would encourage diversified income opportunities: like energy production, carbon sequestration, conservation and ecotourism - that go beyond just crops and livestock. Vilsack added: "There's real opportunities to create a new rural economy."

Thanks to Jane Eckert's new AgriMarketing/AgriTourism blog for bringing this latest informatin to our attention. If these issues interest you, you may want to sign up for her RSS feed, as I have, so you get the latest from her.

Happy Valentine's Day!

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Monday, February 09, 2009

EquiFest of Kansas

The 12th annual EquiFest of Kansas will be held Feb 13 thru the 15th, 2009, at the Kansas Coliseum, Valley Center. See Clinicians, Cowboy races and more...

Among a plethora of entertainment are the All American Cowgirl Chicks (pictured above) Something for anyone! The festival all happens in Valley Center, just north of Wichita.

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Chinkapin Oak is the 2009 Pride of Kansas tree of the year

The chinkapin oak is the 2009 Pride of Kansas tree of the year, according to Locavore. It may just to sell seeds, but, it appears to be a good Flint Hills tree. Good trivia question and answer as well. Check it out, and give me your opinion. Anyone have a chinkapin oak at their place. Anyone photographed one in the Kansas Flint Hills? I look forward to your comments!

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-) - near a chinkapin oak, perhaps?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Flint Hills Images - Lawrence

Eight regional artists are exhibiting their photographs and paintings of the Flint Hills throughout the month of February at the Lawrence Public Library. Featured will be the works of Scott Bean, Manhattan; Ron Beeton, Marion; Dan Coburn, Topeka; Louis Copt, Lecompton; D.W. Gates, Lawrence; Dave Leiker, Emporia; Roger Spohn, Baldwin City; and Harland Schuster, Morrill.
Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont, Lawrence, KS.
Monday-Friday: 9 am - 9 pm; Sat: 9 am - 6 pm; Sun: 2 pm - 6 pm

See you in the Kansas Flint Hills! ;-)