Page 1



VOL 75





The New Face of Kansas Poetry

Huascar Medina Steps into the Role of the State’s Poet Laureate

Oh Manhaan !

Team Alpha Drones


home to huge celebrations that stir the passions of the community and attract nationwide visitors. While here, visitors should take advantage of amazing dining options and exciting city-wide attractions.







Kansas’ Finest

Introducing the 2019 winners of the state’s biggest award for those who contribute to the promotion of Kansas tourism and the image of Kansas


A Field of Mango and Wheat Huascar Medina seeks to create places of empathy as Kansas’ newest poet laureate

02 WINTER 2019


L E A V E N W O R T H 1 8 5 4

Experience "The First City of Kansas"


Lemon Park Lights

The one-mile drive takes you through Pratt’s oldest and most scenic park, illuminated by thousands of lights and animated displays. Lemon Park Lights has expanded into its neighboring park with animated displays of the 12 days of Christmas.

C.W. Parker Carousel

LEMON PARK LIGHTS Vintage Homes Tour, Dec. 8

28 Block Shopping Dist.


HISTORY With your next Getaway!

Explore our history at the Carroll Mansion, the Buffalo Soldier Monument on Fort Leavenworth, the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum, our 28-block historic downtown shopping district and so much more...

will be lit from dusk to 11pm nightly from November 23RD - January 1ST

Come celebrate Christmas with us! J O I N S A N T A O N S A T U R D A Y,

NOVEMBER 23RD — 3:00 TO 5:30PM for Christmas in the Park and the lighting of the lights! There will be activities for the kids, hay rack rides, carriage rides, food vendors, live entertainment and more!

For More Information





Display Remains Lit Until New Year’s






Traditional Toys and Games


See Marbles Made! Call or visit website for more info.

600 East Front St., Bonner Springs, KS 913-441-1432

Great Day Trip Destination

October 15 through January 1 170 victorian, antique Christmas trees and ornaments 10-5pm Wed-Sat | 1-5pm Sun (785) 887-6148 |


inside departments


In this Issue

08 10

From the Editor

12 14 17 18 20 22 24 26 30


PHOTOGRAPHS (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) Michael Pearce, Justin Lister, Marilyn Friesen, Justin Lister


32 page


Kansas Details


| Cuisine Fine Food and Good Eats | Heartland People and Places that Define Us | Culture Arts and Experiences | How To Wise Tips from Friendly Kansans | Kansas Air The Freshness of Outdoor Life | Made in Kansas Must-have local items | Lens A conversation with KANSAS! photographers | Reasons We Love Kansas Celebrating Unique Attractions | Must See Upcoming Events to Enjoy

Wide Open Spaces 32 | Taste of Kansas: Creating the Next Generation of Beekeepers Working through his family farm, a Kansas State University student hopes to reverse a statewide decline in honey production


36 | Big in Kansas A super-sized shovel becomes a community’s tool for memorializing generations of miners and their families who worked and lived in the mineral-rich southeastern portion of the state




ON THE COVER The new Poet Laureate of Kansas, Huascar Medina, stands outside his home in Topeka holding a copy of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. a book that he says accompanies him throughout all of his writing sessions. Photograph by Nick Krug.

56 58

Little Jerusalem Badlands



The newest state park is now open to visitors

KANSAS! Gallery

05 WINTER 2019

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Andrea Etzel


Laura Kelly GOVERNOR

Brad Loveless


Bridgette Jobe




Bill Uhler

Bob Cucciniello

Shelly Bryant

Nathan Pettengill

Joanne Morgan

Leslie Andres




KANSAS! (ISSN 0022-8435) is published quarterly by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism 1020 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 200, Topeka, KS 66612; (785) 296-3479; TTY Hearing Impaired: (785) 296-3487. Periodical postage paid at Topeka, KS, and at additional mailing offices. Newsstand price $5 per issue; subscription price $18 per year; $30 for two years. All prices include all applicable sales tax. Please address subscription inquiries to: Toll-free: (800) 678-6424 KANSAS!, P.O. Box 146, Topeka, KS 66601-0146 E-mail: | Website: POSTMASTER: Send address change to: KANSAS!, P.O. Box 146, Topeka, KS 66601-0146. Please mail all editorial inquiries to: KANSAS!, 1020 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 200, Topeka, KS 66612 email: The articles and photographs that appear in KANSAS! magazine may not be broadcast, published or otherwise reproduced without the express written consent of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism or the appropriate copyright owner. Unauthorized use is prohibited. Additional restrictions may apply.


Plan Your Tri


in this


PHOTOGRAPHS (FROM LEFT) Bill Stephens, Stephen Ozga, Shelly Bryant



coming in

36 Meeting Brutus

58 Join the Gallery

2020 Celebrating 75 Years

Even though Big Brutus’ very name provides a clue to its size, nothing adequately prepares you for your first encounter with the state’s fabled mechanical shovel. Photographers Bill Stephens and Racheal Major tried to convey its scale by framing images of the machine along with a small child and focusing on elements of the shovel, such as the actual scoop in a large puddle of water, to understand the size of the whole object based on the scale of its component sections. But no image, no matter how strong, matches that first impression as you walk up to the machine. If you haven’t done so, visit Brutus yourself and enjoy the experience.

We’re grateful to all the Kansas photographers who have submitted images to one of our favorite sections, the gallery of seasonal photography at the end of each issue. We accept submissions year-round for paid use of photographs and encourage anyone in Kansas to submit high-resolution images showing off the seasonal beauty of our state. For more information on submitting for the 2020 seasons, go online to and click on the “Magazine” and then the “Submit” tabs.

In 2020, KANSAS! magazine will be celebrating 75 years of publication with special issues examining some of the traits and values that have defined our state. We will also feature special segments highlighting some of our favorite stories and images from the past decades of publication. Look for more special events, postings and subscription offers at

around the

state These are just some of the locations represented in this issue of KANSAS! magazine.



“One of the great pleasures for me in doing this work is I’ve gotten to travel all over Kansas.” —Priscilla Howe

28 25






Dodge City

07 WINTER 2019


from the

editor Where did the year go? I can’t believe it is already winter. Looking back over this year’s issues of KANSAS! magazine, I realized there was a common theme: each edition has celebrated remarkable people who make our state a better place. Without a doubt, this issue falls right in line. Each winter since 2011, we have honored exceptional ambassadors of our state with the Kansas’ Finest awards. Both native and adopted Kansans, these individuals have exhibited a passion and sense of purpose in promoting the Sunflower State’s many attributes. Nominated by fellow Kansans, our 2019 honorees include a couple known for their determination and perseverance to keep history alive and a photographer who both tells stories through his captivating imagery and champions fellow photographers. This year we also present a 2019 Governor’s Tourism Award to Paul Bahnmaier, known by many as “Mr. Lecompton” for his work in promoting and preserving the history of his hometown. If you’ve been to one of the many living history programs held at Lecompton’s Constitution Hall State Historic Site or the Territorial Capital Museum, then you’ve probably witnessed Paul’s devotion to his community and his knack for portraying a notable personality from the town’s pivotal Bleeding Kansas era. Congratulations to all our honorees! In these pages, we also welcome the new poet laureate of Kansas, Huascar Medina. You can read about Huascar’s vision for his new role on page 50. Another new development highlighted in this issue is the recent opening of Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park. If you’re creating a must-see list for 2020, make sure to put this natural history attraction at the top of your list! Next year is a big milestone for KANSAS! magazine … we’re turning 75! We have exciting plans for each 2020 edition of KANSAS! magazine, so I hope you’ll join us in celebrating this milestone. From our family to yours, we wish you a warm and blessed holiday season!




KansasMagazine (get spotted; use #kansasmag to tag us)

08 WINTER 2019




Soundscapes in Winfield, KS

Annual Music Composition and Songwriting Contest for Kansas Residents by Winfield Arts & Humanities Council

DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES FEBRUARY 21, 2020 Monitory Prizes for winners

620 221-2161 | |


Like to write?

Annual Writing Contest for Kansas Residents by Winfield Arts & Humanities Council

Deadline for entries March 13, 2020

For more information, visit or call 620-221-2161



Scott Bean Photography K A N S A S L A N D S CA P E A N D N AT U R E P H OTO G R A P H S

Where memory lane meets forever.

7 8 5 - 3 4 1 - 1 0 4 7 | S C OT T @ S C OT T B E A N P H OTO . C O M

Your love story is right up our alley at The Pennant.



Creating the Next Generation of Beekeepers

Working through his family farm, a KansasState University student hopes to reverse a statewide decline in honey production

Rogan Tokach removes a frame of honey from one of his hives in Abilene. Photograph by Justin Lister.




PHOTOGRAPHS (FROM TOP) Jason Dailey, Michael Pearce and Racheal Major




Welcome to KANSAS! magazine’s “Kansas Details.” Here we explore what’s new and buzzing throughout the state—from restaurants and shopping to cultural happenings and attractions.

12 Cuisine 14 Heartland 17 Culture 18 How To 20 Kansas Air 22 Made in Kansas 24 Lens 26 Reasons We Love Kansas 30 Must See Events WIDE OPEN SPACES 32 Taste of Kansas: Creating the Next Generation of Beekeepers 36 Big in Kansas




12 WINTER 2019

ABOVE Cathy and Kenrick Waite serve their house specialty, the Jamaican rum punch, at The Little Grill near Manhattan. Photograph by David Mayes.

Sample chili made with ingredients like pineapple, brisket, chicken, beer and even whiskey at the Chili Cookoff competition December 9 in Dodge City’s Eisenhower Park. Sampling begins at 5 p.m.; stay for the tree lighting ceremony, a virtual reality Santa sleigh ride, drawings for prizes, entertainment, and a Parade of Lights. (620) 225-8186

Where in Kansas?

Manhattan Junction City Hutchinson

Negril Caribbean | (785) 238-1086 The Little Grill | (785) 323-0112

December 9 Dodge City

Dodge City

Escape wintry landlocked Kansas by dining in one of the state’s unique restaurants serving the flavors of the tropical islands. Negril Caribbean in Junction City and The Little Grill near Manhattan are two that offer Jamaican fare and drinks sure to whisk you away to paradise despite the cold temperatures outdoors. Jerk chicken, oxtail, and curry goat rank as top menu items inside the brightly colored interior of the Negril Caribbean. According to owner Petrona Addison, a native of Jamaica, most of the entrees are covered in a jerk sauce flavored with island spices and Scotch bonnet, a Caribbean chili pepper. The restaurant also serves foods strongly associated with Jamaica, such as ackee (a fruit that is cooked for serving) and salt fish (usually a cod variety, but one that has been salted and dried). Beverages at Negril Caribbean include the popular tropical grapefruit drink called Ting, (pineapple Jamaican soda), cola champagne, and Red Stripe beer brewed in Jamaica. At The Little Grill, owners Kenrick and Cathy Waite offer a laid-back atmosphere with soothing green walls decorated with art and musical instruments. Live music, occasionally with a Jamaican flair, adds to the weekend atmosphere. “Our drink specialty is our Jamaican rum punch, and that is a recipe that Kenrick brought from his hometown of Montego Bay, Jamaica,” notes Cathy. The menu also includes some traditional Jamaican recipes, but most dishes are Jamaican-American fusion (or “Jamerican” as Cathy calls it). The two customer favorites according to Cathy are the jerk chicken and jerk ribs. “The chicken is slow cooked over a wood-fire grill and smoked to perfection, and then served covered in a homemade Caribbean jerk sauce,” she says. “The ribs are slow smoked over fruitwood with a jerk dry rub.” The popular ribs are served only on Friday and Saturday nights with other weekend specials like swordfish, halibut or salmon rubbed with a dry jerk seasoning and grilled. Traditional Jamaican entrees like oxtail, stew beef, and fricassee chicken are served as specials.



Bring children to decorate miniature houses with marshmallows, pretzels and an assortment of candies at the Gingerbread House Decorating free event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 14 at Memorial Hall in Hutchinson. Santa and Mrs. Claus, interactive games, and carriage rides add to the fun. (620) 663-6179

PHOTOGRAPHS David Mayes, Shutterstock

Caribbean Tastes

By Cecilia Harris


Christmas December 7th, Noon - 5pm

Experience All of the Activities!

mark your calendars!

Children’s Christmas Train Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides Lighted Christmas Parade North Pole Village ...and much more!

Lighted Christmas Parade @ 5:30 pm or 800-234-1854

November 30th | 2-6 PM Downtown Atchison, KS Get your button, claim a prize! or call (800) 234-1854

heartland By Kelly Gibson

Holiday horsedrawn carriage rides

In Kansas this winter, there are many opportunities to create your own holiday card experience with a winter carriage ride.

December 7 Atchison

Free horse-drawn sleigh rides and Cinderella carriage rides highlight this holiday event. Other family-friendly activities open to the public include face painting and story time. Plus, kids of all ages can meet Santa. Stay into the evening with a Parade of Lights, which begins at 5:30 p.m. (800) 234-1854


December Sundays, 1–7 p.m. Wichita Holiday lights line the route of free carriage rides through this upscale Wichita shopping region at Rock Road and 21st Street, where guests can purchase holiday gifts, dine and create a memorable family experience. (316) 630-9990


By reservation Abilene and Salina Available for reservations throughout the year, the Rocking B Carriage rides specialize in guided tours through historic Abilene or downtown Salina and accept reservations for evening tours of the holiday lights. (620) 728-9154

Create a holiday family tradition by riding a carriage through Manhattan’s bustling downtown region. The experience is offered free-of-charge by the community nonprofit Downtown Manhattan, but they do accept donations and pass on all of the proceeds to a selected local charity. (785) 537-9683

December weekends Emporia

The association behind Emporia’s historic downtown district, Main Street Emporia, hosts carriage rides on December weekends. Reservations are taken in person on the day of the rides and tickets are sold for a suggested donation of $5 per person. emporiamainstreet. com (620) 340.6430

... there are many opportunities to create your own holiday card experience with a winter carriage ride. Where in Kansas?

ABOVE The Rocking B Carriage rides through Abilene. Photograph courtesy Rocking B Carriage.


Manhattan Emporia


December Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 5–8 p.m. Manhattan


Abilene Salina Wichita




PHOTOGRAPH courtesy Rocking B Carriage.

Oh What Fun It Is To Ride!


insurance and you could save. | 1-800-947-AUTO | Local Office

Some discounts, coverages, payment plans and features are not available in all states, in all GEICO companies, or in all situations. Boat and PWC coverages are underwritten by GEICO Marine Insurance Company. Homeowners, renters and condo coverages are written through non-affiliated insurance companies and are secured through the GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc. Motorcycle and ATV coverages are underwritten by GEICO Indemnity Company. GEICO is a registered service mark of Government Employees Insurance Company, Washington, DC 20076; a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. subsidiary. Š 2018 GEICO


culture By Cecilia Harris

Holiday Trees Believed to be the Midwest’s largest indoor annual Christmas tree display, the collection of 170 unusual and historic holiday trees returns to the Lecompton Territorial Capital Museum from October 15 through January 1. The display tradition began some 25 years ago with a showcase live tree decorated for the holidays. Since then, it has grown as people have donated unusual trees and decorations. For example, 10 years ago the museum received and began showing a collection of Victorian-era feather trees and ornaments. “Feather trees are made of goose feathers, most of which are dyed green,” says Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society. Created in Germany in the late 19th century, these are believed to be the first artificial Christmas trees. Bahnmaier says they have aged well. “The branches are so tightly wound,” he says, “you don’t think of them as being feathers.” That large donation sparked other contributions, resulting in the massive display that provides a historical perspective of the evolution of both Christmas trees and holiday ornaments. Lacking a fresh evergreen, a pioneer may have fashioned a two-foot-tall tree of barbed wire with a horseshoe base. Other trees and materials represent different eras, such as the 1950s tree made of Visca, a synthetic plastic material not commonly used anymore. The ornaments on the trees are just as diverse and unusual, including 1940s-era decorative birds whose heads open to reveal candy inside, ornamental glow-in-the-dark animals, handmade cornhusk ornaments and more. “It’s just unbelievable the different ornaments here on display,” Bahnmaier says. “It’s an opportunity for someone to come back and relive their childhood.”

40th ANNUAL CHRISTMAS PARADE December 2, 6:30 p.m. Pittsburg

Watch holiday floats decorated with twinkling lights, marching bands playing Christmas tunes, antique cars sporting wreaths, and horses trotting with jingle bells during the 40th annual Christmas parade beginning at 6:30 p.m. on December 2 through downtown Pittsburg. The grand finale includes Santa riding in a fire truck. | (620) 231-8310


Bring the family to Santa City in Colby’s Fike Park, decorated for the holiday season. Every weekend after Thanksgiving and nightly from the middle of December through Christmas Eve, Santa is on hand to listen to wish lists and be photographed with the children while Mrs. Claus distributes cookies. (785) 460-7643

Where in Kansas? | (785) 887-6148

Pittsburg Lecompton



It’s just unbelievable the different ornaments here on display.” –Paul Bahnmaier

17 WINTER 2019

Priscilla Howe, Kansas storyteller. Photograph by Jason Dailey.

By Mary R. Gage

how to

Tell a Good Story with

Priscilla Howe

A professional storyteller for more than 26 years, Priscilla Howe has told hundreds of tales to audiences at her home in Lawrence and all over the world. Howe discovered storytelling as a children’s librarian in Connecticut. Asked to join her fellow librarians on a storytelling visit to an elementary school, the self-described “shy and introverted” Howe didn’t think she’d be comfortable in front of people. But then, she discovered a story called “The Crooked Little Finger,” and having been born with two slightly crooked little fingers, she had the perfect visual aids. The kids loved it, she had fun, and for the next five years she went to every workshop, festival, story-telling performance and conference she could find. “It was sort of like an apprenticeship,” she says. After deciding to leap into professional storytelling full time, Howe returned to Kansas, where she had lived and gone to grade school. She also knew the house prices were more reasonable, and importantly, with a couple of siblings in Lawrence, she “could at least get a meal!” Howe has traveled all over the state, country and world to share her stories, and in 2019 was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s International Story Bridge Award. Howe continues to expand her repertoire and enhances her storytelling with songs and her 165-strong cast of puppets. In Kansas, traveling the state for the past few years under the auspices of Humanities Kansas, she offers a program called “Grimm for Grownups,” presenting Grimm Brothers stories, best suited for the over-18 age bracket. “One of the great pleasures for me in doing this work,” she says, “is I’ve gotten to travel all over Kansas. I’ve even written sort of a poem that I perform sometimes, listing all the towns I’ve been to.”

To enjoy more storytellers from around Kansas, check out the annual Kansas Storytelling Festival in Downs, held the last week of April.

1. Only tell stories you love. Even if it is a difficult story, tell stories you love and are drawn to.

2. Find your own voice. When storytellers start, they often start by imitating, and that’s a normal step. Little by little I found my own voice, my own ways of telling the story. Because I’m not somebody else. I bring everything I’ve lived into the story, and the listeners bring everything they’ve lived into the story as well. 3. Remember that storytelling is a connective art. What I’m doing is connecting with the story and connecting with the listeners. The listeners are connecting to the story, and with me, and they’re also connecting among themselves and having a shared experience. 4. Always respect the audience. Don’t talk down to kids; talk at their level. Recognize that we are storytelling animals and we understand stories. I tailor the stories to the listener.

5. Work on your story before you bring it out into public. That would include thinking about the structure of the story and bringing people in quickly enough that they’re engaged. One thing I like to do when I’m telling personal stories, not folk tales or stories from books, is to put a story in a frame. I start with one thing and end with the same thing. Remember, you’re taking your listeners out on a journey, and you want to bring them home­—unless you have a reason that you want to leave them out there. If you’re telling a dilemma tale, for example, and you want to end with “What do you think? What would you do here?” 6. Decide what is the most important thing in your story. Keep it in mind and don’t talk around the story. Get in, be good, get out. 7. Have fun!

Where in Kansas? Wathena Baxter Springs Chetopa Onaga Sabetha Galena Olathe Mound City

Some of the Kansas towns where Priscilla Howe has told stories include:

Shallow Water



19 WINTER 2019

kansas air By Michael Pearce

Birding at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge The sounds are the first indication that you are going some place special. For miles, as you approach the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, you can hear what seems like the clamor of distant traffic. As you come closer and your ears assimilate the sound, you realize that the sounds are made by birds—the honking of thousands and thousands of geese and the high-pitched trills of sandhill cranes. Looking closely at the various flocks, you may see cranes, ducks, geese, pelicans or gulls. With luck, you might spot a bald eagle or even the unmistakable whooping crane, America’s tallest bird and a symbol of true wilderness. Quivira was created in the mid-1950s when the federal government transformed what is the now 22,000 acres of scattered marshes and white, alkaline lands. At the time it was home to several waterfowl hunting clubs that drew hunters from across the nation. Such sportsmen still flock to Quivira for portions that are opened to managed hunting, but it is the millions of migrating birds that make Quivira a world-class birding experience. When to Go Quivira is at its best in late fall and winter. The first crisp October cold front also brings the first masses of cranes, geese and ducks on the north wind. Numbers build for weeks as migrating birds stop to rest amid the wetlands and feast in the area’s highly fertile crop fields. By November and mid-December the migration is at its peak. At this time possibly a million or more geese, ducks and cranes can be observed flying to and from the marshes. Vast

20 WINTER 2019

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

flocks of 10,000-plus blackbirds fly in a follow-the-leader fashion across the sky, with pinpoint dips, swirls and vertical climbs. Where to Go The Little Salt Marsh, at the refuge’s south end and near the visitor center, usually holds a lot of waterfowl during migrations. Even better, usually, is the Big Salt Marsh. The ten-mile drive between the two gives looks at expanses of prairie, brushlands and scattered pockets of water.

The official site at provides directions, maps and information such as recent bird sightings. If you go, budget several late-day hours for the Big Salt Marsh experience, which should include watching the sun set over the marshlands, seeing the western sky glow as silhouettes of flocks race across it, and a variety of species calling excitedly across the horizon. It’s an amazing thing to see and hear … and it’s right here in Kansas.

Where in Kansas? KANSAS! MAGAZINE

Thousands of migrating cranes arrive at Quivira National Wildlife Refuge. Photograph by Michael Pearce.


Workers create all of Henry’s candies from scratch, a process open to visitors each Sunday (above); some of the candies include these fruit-flavored candy sticks (opposite page). Photographs by Justin Lister.

made in kansas By Amber Fraley


December 5, Leavenworth

Kansas Sweet

For over sixty years, Henry’s Candy Company in Dexter has been Kansas’ own version of Willy Wonka’s legendary candy factory. Founded by the Henry family in 1956, Henry’s fourth-generation candy makers continue to hand-craft more than a hundred varieties of candy, including chocolate clusters (pecan, coconut, black walnut and more), fudge, hand-pulled lollipops, salt water taffy, old fashioned candy sticks, sugar-free varieties, colorful old-fashioned Christmas candies and much more. And then there is the signature “Mama Henry” candy bar, handmade in small batches and consisting of caramel fudge rolled in peanuts and coated with chocolate. (Do we have your sweet tooth’s attention yet?) Most Sundays, starting at 1:45 p.m., you can watch members of the Henry family create their sweet treats, some of which are still made on the original antique equipment. (Phone ahead to confirm they’re making candy on a particular Sunday before you go.) The storefront of Henry’s Candy Company is open Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. But even candy-makers get a winter holiday break; the store is closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Henry’s Candy Company | (620) 876-5423

Recurring the first Thursday of every month, Leavenworth’s Alive After 5 invites visitors to stroll through the city’s historic downtown as businesses provide themed entertainment. January’s Alive After 5 will feature live music as well as chili and soups served by a variety of restaurants and vendors. Tickets, which can be purchased on location, are $15 per person for the event that lasts from 5–8 p.m. (913) 682-3924

FOLK ART FESTIVAL December 7 & 8, Liberal

Liberal’s annual holiday event, the SPBH Folk Art Festival, always the first full weekend in December, returns for its 51st year to showcase artists and handcrafted items, as well as baked goods and canned foods from Kansas and beyond. Located in the Seward County Activity Center, 810 Stadium Ave., the Folk Art Festival is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, December 7, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, December 8. Admission is free. (620) 626-0170 Where in Kansas? Leavenworth

PHOTOGRAPH Justin Lister

Dexter Liberal


Marilyn Friesen A conversation with KANSAS! photographers about their work and the iconic images of our home state

Wichita native and Wichita State graduate Marilyn Friesen spent a career in the healthcare industry before retiring in 2016 and devoting much of her free time to photography. “I started to pay attention to the sun and moon cycles, to weather, flowers, birds and local wildlife,” she says. “I targeted them as subjects for learning the technical aspects of photography.” She uses her home in Inman as her base for frequent Kansas photography-themed day trips with her husband, Ben, and is a frequent contributor to the KANSAS! gallery of seasonal photographs. One of her images was also selected to appear in the 2020 KANSAS! calendar.

What was your first camera? My first “real” camera was a Canon AE-1 in 1984. That camera gave me the opportunity to have more control over taking a picture, but it was intimidating. I used the program mode or presets for the most part and only used the camera occasionally.


What have you learned from being a photographer that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise? Patience—with conditions and myself. Awareness of nature. Technical abilities with the camera and editing software. Kansas history and geography. Bird and flower identification. Bird migrations. Artistic approaches. Making new friends. What is the most common photography advice you share with amateur photographers? First and foremost, do not give up. Learn the basics of photography. Understand how a picture is impacted by your shutter speed, aperture and ISO. Familiarize yourself with your camera. Photograph what you like. Know your subject so that you can anticipate its

actions. Photography is a journey with achievable challenges at each step. The next challenge is always there, and you are never finished. Who is a Kansan you have never photographed, but would like to? Gordon Parks. I met him and got his autograph in the late ’90s when he had an exhibition on the Wichita State University campus. I admired his work and talent. What was your best chance photo? My best chance photo was a snowy owl in McPherson County, December 2017. Someone had posted on social media about having seen this owl, so I canceled my plans for that evening and set out to see if I might find and photograph it. Late that afternoon, I spotted the owl on a hay bale. I was so excited it was hard to hold the camera still. What is your favorite photo shoot from throughout your career? Bartlett Arboretum last fall. I expected fall color, but upon arrival the colors were explosive. It was beautiful beyond belief and delightfully overwhelming.

Photography is a journey with achievable challenges at each step. The next challenge is always there, and you are never finished.” –Marilyn Friesen



reasons By Cecilia Harris

IN THIS ISSUE Holiday Concerts Where in Kansas?

Lawrence Benton Emporia

Abilene Wichita Salina

Victoria Hays




Wichita | November 22, 23 & 24 The longest-running musical tradition at Wichita State University, the annual Candlelight Christmas Concert has presented holiday favorites for nearly 60 years. Performances on November 22, 23 and 24 in Wiedemann Recital Hall will include selections by the university’s premier choral ensemble, the Concert Chorale, as well as the Women’s Glee Club, A Cappella Choir and Madrigal Singers, with each group performing separately and as an ensemble. The song “Beautiful Savior” traditionally is presented as the finale with the audience surrounded by the choir members holding flameless lit candles as the lights dim. | (316) 978-3233

26 WINTER 2019



PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT) Wichita State University, Shutterstock, Prairie Rose Chuckwagon, Shutterstock, Carter Gaskins, Salina Symphony

Abilene and Emporia | December 8 While many municipal bands perform throughout the state in the summer, a few also present special holiday concerts. Abilene’s Municipal Band, which traces its roots to 1881 and features musicians from ages 14 to 90 years, will perform its annual Christmas concert on December 8 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library’s Visitors Center. Emporia’s city-funded Municipal Band offers its annual Christmas concert on December 8 at the Granada Theatre as a gift to the community; selections traditionally performed include “Sleigh Ride,” “A Christmas Festival,” and a Christmas adaptation of “Home on the Range” as the finale. facebook: abilenemuniband | (785) 263-2231 facebook: emporiamunicipalband | (620) 366-2350



Benton | Thanksgiving through Late December Christmas on the Prairie at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon features several concerts from Thanksgiving through late December. Following familyfriendly activities and the traditional chuckwagon supper, the Prairie Rose Rangers perform cowboy Christmas songs and timeless Christmas melodies on Fridays and Saturdays, along with two Sunday matinees. Special programs include Home for the Holidays by the Diamond W Wranglers on November 30; The Bucky Fowler Family Country Christmas, performed by the Bucky Fowler Band and Southern Charm, on December 15; and A Patsy Cline Christmas, featuring Kim Coslett, on December 5, 12 and 19. | (316) 778-2121

Salina | December 14 & 15 Musicians and dancers combine talents for the annual Symphony Christmas Festival on December 14 and 15 at The Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts. After playing several pieces, the Salina Symphony will bring in the Salina Youth Choir, the Salina Chorale and the Kansas Wesleyan University Chorale for vocal accompaniments of holiday classics. In the second portion of the program, The Iron Street Dance Company and Tamara Howe School of Dance students take the stage to perform ballet, lyrical, tap, jazz and contemporary dances. The program ends with a performance of “Sleigh Ride” and an appearance from Santa. | | (785) 827-1998 KANSAS! MAGAZINE


Victoria | December 8 Century-old sacred Christmas carols performed in a historic church with outstanding acoustics highlight the annual Cathedral Christmas Concert at the Basilica of St. Fidelis, often referred to as the Cathedral of the Plains, in Victoria. On December 8, the Fort Hays State University Singers and Concert Choir will sing both a cappella and with accompaniment by piano, organ, brass, strings, flute and other instruments. Also performing will be the Smoky Hill Chorale adult community choir, the Hays High School Chamber Singers, and guest musicians from the area. The singers often encircle the audience or are scattered throughout the church. (785) 628-4533

COMMUNITY HANDBELL CHOIR HOLIDAY CONCERT Lawrence | December 7 Lawrence Community Handbell Choir presents its holiday concert as part of the Tales and Traditions Holiday Festival at the Watkins Museum of History on December 7. This handbell choir accepts musicians only through an audition process and performs with five octaves of handbells and four octaves of handchimes. Their holiday performance will include sacred music such as “Silent Night” as well as popular tunes like “Blue Christmas” and “Skater’s Waltz.” | (785) 843-7066



my reasons with ...

Terry Crull

Twinkling lights and fresh greenery hang throughout downtown WaKeeney during the holidays. It’s a tradition that earned the city the title “Christmas City of the High Plains” and is just one example of what’s great about Kansas, according to Terry Crull, associate professor of music and director of choral activities at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in Hays. Crull, who was born in Illinois and lived in California, Iowa, South Dakota, and Colorado before moving to Kansas nearly 15 years ago, often travels to WaKeeney and throughout the state for work and pleasure. Crull loves to attend county fairs, stock car races, summer events in Dodge City, Wild West Days in Hays, and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in Bonner Springs. Hays’ Sternberg Museum, where his grandchildren “could play all day in the Discovery Room,” ranks as his favorite local attraction, and Crull and his wife, Joan, often visit Wilson Lake, where they enjoy riding their jet skis. They also relish traveling on their motorcycles, exploring such places as Monument Rocks in Gove County, the Santa Fe Trail near Cimarron, and the Post Rock Scenic Byway and the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway, and spending the night at bed-and-breakfasts in such towns as Atwood, Oberlin, Dodge City, Cimarron, and Lindsborg.

Every county and community has something to offer. Don’t overlook the small towns; they have programs and festivals with long traditions at various times of the year that can really surprise you.” –Terry Crull

Terry Crull’s Top 5 Reasons to Live in Kansas:


My job at Fort State Hays University. It brought us here and continues to be a great place to teach.


My church family, my source of inspiration, comfort, and strength.


My students. They come eager to learn, and they work hard at all they do.


Easy winters. I ride my motorcycle year-round.


The agriculture-based economy. It’s how I grew up, and I love the farming community.

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PHOTOGRAPH Rebekah Baier

Crull serves as the director of one such event, the annual Cathedral Christmas Concert, this year at 3:30 p.m. on December 8, when the FHSU choirs and other musicians perform inside the historic Basilica of St. Fidelis, known as the Cathedral of the Plains, in Victoria.


Emporia is for those who are craving something different.


must see Winter 2019

STRAWBERRY HILL MUSEUM TOUR Ongoing–December 29 | Kansas City

A FRONTIER ARMY CHRISTMAS December 14 | Fort Larned National Historic Site

The Strawberry Hill Ethnic Museum and Cultural Center guides guests through the Victorian-era mansion at the center of the historic region that was home to generations of Slavic and other immigrant communities.

This family-friendly event features carriage rides, 1860s holiday food, a visit from Santa and more, all against the backdrop of the national historic site preserving the history of daily life on the pre-Civil War Western frontier. Entrance to all events is free, but reservations are recommended. (620) 285-6911 |

The Kansas Museum of History hosts an exhibition highlighting people, incidents and stories from each of the state’s 105 counties. NATIONAL JUNIOR COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP December 5 | Pittsburg Pittsburg State University hosts the CBS Sports Network televised championship game. MURDER IN THE MINE December 6–7 | Hutchinson Strataca underground salt mine and Without a Net Entertainment host a murder mystery dinner theater. 25TH ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL OF NATIVITIES Weekends, December 7–28 | Lawrence Lawrence’s Centenary United Methodist Church hosts its annual showing of nativity scenes from across the world. Groups can be accommodated with special dates and times. (785) 843-1756

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CHRISTMAS CANDLELIT TOURS December 11–23 (various dates) | Coffeyville Decorated trees, live holiday music and more greet visitors on tours of the historic Brown Mansion. THE COLOR PURPLE January 22 | Manhattan The McCain Auditorium hosts a staging of the 2016 Tony Award winning performance based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. CHOCOLATE TASTING February 8–9 | Atchison Downtown Atchison businesses treat guests to chocolate samples and offer Valentine’s Day gift options with all ticket proceeds benefitting the New Fox Theatre restoration project. VALENTINE’S CONCERT February 15 | Hays The Hays Symphony presents an evening of romantic music, including selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, at the Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. BEETHOVEN: THE COMPLETE PIANO CONCERTOS February 21 and 23 | Wichita The Wichita Symphony celebrates Beethoven’s 250th birthday year with a performance of his piano concertos 1–5.

FIND MORE EVENTS AT TRAVELKS.COM/EVENTS Because all events are subject to change, confirm with organizers before finalizing plans.



105 COUNTIES, 105 STORIES Ongoing–February 2, 2020 | Topeka


Proud Past – Brilliant Future Come Visit Eisenhower State Park Pomona State Park 785-528-3714 (Osage City Hall)






All Inns are licensed with the state along with being health and fire compliant.





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Taste of Kansas

Creating the Next Generation of Beekeepers Working through his family farm, a Kansas-State University student hopes to reverse a statewide decline in honey production

By Meta Newell West | Photography by Justin Lister

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ogan Tokach’s fascination with bees began when he observed a hive at the Central Kansas Free Fair in Abilene. It was the summer before he entered the eighth grade, and Rogan remembers telling his mom that he wanted to start a hive on their property in rural Dickinson County. “She bought me a copy of Beekeeping for Dummies and thought that would end the matter,” he recalls. Instead, it was just the beginning. Rogan, who is now a senior at Kansas State University majoring in agronomy with a minor in entomology, read the book from cover to cover and was even more intrigued. That road from hive observer to bee scholar has been paved in golden honey, beginning with a scholarship from the Kansas Honey Producers Association (KHPA) that was awarded to Rogan and his sister, Sage. “We initially received a hive, two beekeeping suits, a smoker and other essential equipment,” Rogan says. “Our parents then bought us another hive for Christmas.” Toward the end of high school, Rogan began recruiting others by working through 4-H and starting a club open to anyone in the

Each drop of the 20 gallons of honey harvested annually at the Tokach farm bears a taste of the neighboring alfalfa fields where the bees nourish themselves as they pollinate the plants.

ABOVE LEFT Surrounded by honey hive frames, Rogan Tokach rests after extracting honey from his hives. ABOVE RIGHT Lisa Tokach uses a hot knife to cut the wax cappings off a frame of honey.

community interested in beekeeping. The group provided potential hobbyists an opportunity to see if they would enjoy working with bees before they forked over the funds needed to start a colony. Three families were a part of that first group; all have since purchased their own hives and continue with beekeeping. To fund the club, Rogan again turned to the KHPA, this time for a grant. They provided two hives, multiple suits and other needed equipment. Hives were placed on the grounds of Brown Memorial Park near Brown Memorial Home, a rural recreation park and senior housing facility south of Abilene. Brown’s Busy Beekeepers, still in operation, is now under the direction of Dr. Lisa Tokach, a veterinary clinician and Rogan’s mom. Club members check the hives about every two weeks and harvest honey each fall. James Kellie, KHPA president, says clubs such as these are essential to his organization’s mission of educating people on the vital role honey bees and other pollinators play in the ecosystem and perhaps “light a spark for a future beekeeper or scientist that may help our plight with the honey bee.”



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Taste of Honey in Kansas Flavor, color and even aroma of honey vary depending on the nectar of flowers visited by bees and can be influenced by weather as well. Much like a wine taster would explain the flavor profile of wine, James Kellie, president of the Kansas Honey Producers Association and a beekeeper in Pawnee County, shares his observations about some of the most common taste influencers of Kansas honey: • Alfalfa, grown predominantly in central and south central Kansas, produces light-colored honey under ideal weather conditions including enough rain; hot, dry conditions produce darker honey. No matter the final color, alfalfa produces a sweet honey that ranks high in popularity. • Sweet clover, found predominantly in north central and western Kansas, provides honey with a light color and a distinct “pop” of sweetness. • Dutch clover, found in urban yards and pastures, especially in northeast Kansas, produces lighter-colored honey with caramel undertones and a bit of a “zip” at the end. • Wildflower fields, particularly those in the eastern part of the state, generally lead to honey with a menagerie of flavors that can create very “busy” taste sensations. • Buckwheat, an agricultural plant grown throughout most of the state, creates darker honey with a robust, somewhat savory flavor that has a “bang” at the end. • Smartweed, a wetland plant that grows during the autumn in wet ditches and fields throughout the state, creates dark honey with a strong, savory aroma and an “attention-getting” flavor—one that seems to be either loved or hated.

That “plight” refers to a drastic drop in wild bee and cultivated populations from disease and other factors. A report from the independent, nonprofit Bee Informed foundation found that Kansas lost some 43% of cultivated colonies from 2017–2018. According to statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture, there were 43,000 honey producing colonies in Kansas in 1978; that number had dropped to 17,000 by 1998. KHPA estimates there are now just around 7,000 colonies, producing 3/4 of a million pounds of honey. A Kansas beekeeper for 43 years who has managed over 13,000 colonies, Kellie has noticed a definite change in the landscape of beekeeping. Pesticides, fungicides, and colony diseases play a role in the decline. But Kellie believes it is urban sprawl and changes in farming practices that have had the greatest impact, changes that have evolved over time. These include loss of pastures, planting of single crops versus rotation, and reliance on crops that do not need pollination. Kellie points out that America’s commercial beekeepers are unable to produce all the honey that is demanded in this country, about two pounds per person per year. As a result, honey is imported, some from countries with few health regulations about what can be labeled as honey. Sometimes other ingredients such as rice syrup are added as filler. “It’s become a ‘buyer beware’ market,” Kellie says. The KHPA suggests that customers buy from local producers, whether commercial or hobbyist. Farmers markets and grocery stores across the state carry an array of local honey, each with its own unique color and flavor. Each drop of the 20 gallons of honey harvested annually at the Tokach farm bears a taste of the neighboring alfalfa fields where the bees nourish themselves as they pollinate the plants. The Tokachs sell this honey under a “Honey for Heifer” label, with proceeds going to buy beehives for Heifer International, a global nonprofit that helps fight hunger and poverty. “Bee the Change” is the motto Rogan adopted for his Honey for Heifer service project and a slogan that appears on jar labels. However, it seems it’s also a philosophy that has guided Rogan throughout his beekeeping adventures and continues to direct his future. “My plans include studying the effects of pesticides and other problems that are causing declines in bee populations,” Rogan says. “I also plan to work with farmers to help develop and maintain environmental practices that keep bees alive in Kansas and across the nation.”

Rogan Tokach applies smoke to his hives to distract his bees as he removes the frames of honey.

Instant Pot

Honey Bourbon Chicken Despite its name, this variation of a classic recipe contains no bourbon; it’s named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans where it originated. This version is a favorite of Leah Hanson, sister of Lisa Tokach, who has good access to the Tokach honey supply and serves the saucy chicken with rice and steamed broccoli.

Ingredients • • • • • • • • • • •

2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken thighs, diced or whole 1/2 cup diced onion 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce 1/4 cup ketchup 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes    1 cup honey (Note: reduce by half for a less sweet sauce) 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon (approximately) of water


1. Add chicken, onions and garlic to Instant Pot. 2. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and ketchup; add salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. 3. Pour sauce over the chicken mixture and then add honey. 4. Cooking: Once all ingredients are in the Instant Pot, lock the cover and seal the steam vent. 5. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes (if using frozen chicken, add another10 minutes). 6. Naturally release steam for 5 minutes and then quick release. 7. Turn Instant Pot to sauté. 8. Mix cornstarch with water; add to liquid in the pot and continue to cook for a couple minutes until sauce thickens. Preparation Time Approximately 30 minutes Serves 4

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Big in Kansas A super-sized shovel becomes a community’s tool for memorializing generations of miners and their families who worked and lived in the mineral-rich southeastern portion of the state

By Thaddeus Haverkamp | Photography by Racheal Major and Bill Stephens

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very colossus needs an official origin story. Here’s the one for Big Brutus, the world’s largest coal-mining electric shovel, as told on a plaque just inside the Big Brutus Visitors Center and Museum near West Mineral, Kansas. Long ago in the “Land of Ahs,” a giant Tin Man came to life. This Tin Man had a name – Big Brutus – and he had a purpose – to mine coal. Everyone in the “Land of Ahs” marveled at Big Brutus for he was the second largest Tin Man in the world. They were mystified by his size, strength and hard work. They respected him and he was very proud. Standing at 16 stories tall, this monument of engineering can be seen from miles around on the gently undulating farmlands that surround West Mineral. Manufactured in 1963 as a Bucyrus-Erie model 1850-B, for 11 years this imposing machinery cleared up to 150 tons of “overburden” (the mining term for rock and dirt over a coal seam) with one pass of its shovel. Brutus People from across the world make their way to this lonely metal giant in the middle of the plains. A world map and a U.S. map hang on one wall of the museum. Pins are provided for visitors to mark their homes. Every year the pins are cleared and the maps are reset. On our visit, in September, there were pins in every U.S. state and locations as far away as Australia and Siberia. “You never know who’s going to walk in that door,” says Janet Britt, who has

The Big Stats of Big Brutus • The Bucyrus-Erie Model 1850B electric shovel • Largest extant electric shovel in the world • Height: 160 feet from the ground to the point sheave at the top of the boom • Boom Arm: 150 feet long • Dipper Handle: 88 feet long • Maximum Digging Depth: 69 feet • Maximum Dumping Height: 101 feet • Maximum Dumping Reach: 150 feet • Weight: 11 million pounds • Power: 7,500 horsepower under normal operating conditions • More Power: 15,000 horsepower under peak loads • Dipper Capacity: 90 cubic yards; 150 tons of dirt and rocks in one scoop • Dipper Capacity in Perspective: 150 tons would fill three railroad cars • Movement: The machine was propelled by four pairs of “crawlers” • Crawler Weight: Each tread of the crawler weighed 2,008 pounds • Crawler Power: Each tread powered by a 250 horsepower motor • Frame: Size: 58 feet by 79½ feet • Crew: Three; one operator, one oiler and one groundman (a person on the ground who would coordinate with the operator to help the operator more precisely direct the shovel) —Information courtesy of staff and informational material of Big Brutus Visitors Center

worked the museum counter since the site opened in 1985. Britt recalls that she was hired by Victor Boccia, one of the men instrumental in saving Brutus, who asked her to “come out and be a gift shop lady.” On the day of our visit, Britt says we just missed a group of Norwegian motorcycle riders who, while touring U.S. Route 66, made a short detour to see Big Brutus. In an age of Instagram, when we see things on screen more often than in person, it is easy to underestimate the reality of Brutus’ actual size and scale. As you approach the shovel on a long walkway lined with mechanical relics of the mining era, a thick, metal cable— Brutus’ original “hoist cable”—provides a tangible reference point for the enormity of the machinery. The cable weighs 25 pounds per foot and ran 800 feet on each side of the bucket hoist. Even with this strength, the loads it would bear meant that the cable would last an average of only six months before breaking. And then, following the cable, you realize you are suddenly at the base of Big Brutus. The statistics—160 feet in height and 11 million pounds in weight with a 150-foot long boom arm—do nothing to describe the impact of standing in front of “the giant Tin Man” as it looms over you. Tours around and on Big Brutus are self-guided, and visitors are encouraged to follow the 27-point guide sheet in numeric order, starting at the shovel’s bucket, which held 90-cubic yards of debris. The tour then moves around Big Brutus’ four crawlers, each a giant tank tread the size of a large truck and propelled by a 300 horsepower AC electric motor.



wide open spaces From there, visitors can navigate a series of metal staircases into the belly of the machine, which looks more like a submarine or steam ship than a piece of mining equipment. Bulkheads and cramped doorways lead into the cavernous main engine room. Just off this large steel center section is a wood-paneled breakroom leading to the operator’s cab with the driver’s seat where you can sit down and look out over the machine’s150-foot-long boom arm, hands and feet on the pedals and levers that once made Brutus crawl across this section of Kansas. They Named it ‘Mineral’ Because of its size and weight, Big Brutus operated in one area, a coal-rich section of land outside of what is now West Mineral, a town of just under 200 people in Cherokee County. The town was incorporated in 1882 as Cherry, Kansas, but the name was changed to “Mineral,” with a sister city, “West Mineral,” in 1895 for the mineral mines that were found there. Now only West Mineral is left. Both the town and Brutus are monuments to the once-thriving mining industry that dominated that part of our state almost a century ago. Dominated— but took a toll. Even in Nathanial Thompson Allison’s 1904 book History of Cherokee County, a volume generally supportive of development and business in the region, the author notes that the smaller-scale mining of the time had already “literally torn up the earth and rendered its surface, in the immediate locality, forever unfit for tillage.” Today, mining has been abandoned, and the site is part of the Kansas Mined Land Wildlife Area, a 14,500acre property that was used for surface mining from the 1920s to 1974. The region holds some 1,000 strip-mine lakes and is designated for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing and other outdoor recreations by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. In a sense, it is a return to the land before mining as Allison described: a haven for deer, prairie chickens and quail. Now, Cherokee County brings in visitors

The Big Brutus Era The production of Big Brutus took from June 1962 to May 1963. Once it arrived from the Ohio plant and was reassembled on site in Kansas, Brutus ran its shovel 24 hours a day, seven days a week until it ceased operations in April 1974. After Brutus sat unused for 10 years, the parent company, P&M, donated Brutus and 16 acres of surrounding land to Big Brutus, Inc., a nonprofit corporation of the state of Kansas. The company then donated $100,000 for restoration work. In 1985 Big Brutus was opened for visitors with only a folding table and a cigar box for donations. In September 1987, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) designated Big Brutus a Regional Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, only the tenth since 1971. The first part of the visitors center and museum was completed in 1989. The museum’s final incarnation was completed in 2004. On July 13, 1995, Kansas governor John Carlin and Richard M. Holsten, then president of P&M, formally opened the Big Brutus Museum and Memorial Dedicated to the Rich Coal Mining History in Southeast Kansas. —Information courtesy of staff and informational material of Big Brutus Visitors Center

Go Big (Brutus) Big Brutus Inc. (Visitors Center and Museum) Six miles west of K7 and K102 Junction, then one-fourth mile south West Mineral, KS | (620) 827-6177 Admission: $8 for adults, with discounts for seniors and children Hours are generally 10 a.m.–4 p.m., every day, during winter, but extend during the rest of the year; visitors are encouraged to call first to confirm.

to its hunting and fishing lodges as outdoor recreation replaces mining. A Legacy As the focus of Cherokee County changes, the group of volunteers and officials who support the upkeep of Big Brutus are determined to preserve both the history of mining and the legacy of the people who mined this land, sometimes at the risk of their health, to provide for their families. Two rooms in the visitors center hold cabinets, display cases and dioramas, all donated by families in the area. Old high school yearbooks, trophies and ribbons share space with hardhats, safety equipment and models of antique mining equipment. There is a short film presentation on the mining history of the region, and, if you pay close enough attention, you can spot a signed photograph of the “Coalminer’s Daughter” herself, Loretta Lynn. Manager Betty Becker comes from a long line of Kansas miners. She started out as a volunteer when the museum opened and has worked her way up to payroll manager and now center manager. Her father was a truck driver for the Pittsburg and Midway Coal Mining Company (P&M), the company that commissioned the fabrication of Big Brutus. In fact, the truck her father drove is now on display at the museum. Also on display is a wall of photos of the recipients of the Miner’s Lantern Award, presented by the museum to recognize “individuals who have donated their time to helping us start or continue our museum,” Becker explains. “Each one has a different story behind why they received the award.” The museum continues to honor the mine workers by hosting an annual Miner Day Reunion. On the first Saturday in June, retired mine employees and their families gather at the museum for a fish fry. What began as an effort to salvage a piece of industrial equipment helped inspire a museum and campground, school fieldtrips and a location for reunions. Of all the things that Big Brutus did, this might be its biggest, most lasting accomplishment.

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Kansas’ Finest Story by Beccy Tanner

Photography by Kenny Felt, Dave Leiker, Jason Dailey and Bill Stephens

Photograph by Jonathan Adams

Jonathan Adams / Ken and Shirley McClintock / Paul Bahnmaier

Introducing the 2019 winners of the state’s biggest awards for those who contribute to the promotion of Kansas tourism and the image of Kansas


o ahead and talk Kansas with this year’s Kansas’ finest. They may be humble and a bit reluctant to talk about themselves, but turn the table, ask them about Kansas, and that’s when the passion comes rolling out. They love the state’s history, the scenic landscapes, and the people who populate the roughly 83,000 square miles of Kansas. And they have made significant contributions in sharing our state with others. Each year we receive nominations to name the “Kansas’ Finest” award for those who have made invaluable contributions to promoting the state and tourism in Kansas. Here are the 2019 winners, plus one honoree who receives the special Governor’s Award selection.

Photographs by Jonathan Adams


carpenter by trade, Jonathan Adams is also a self-taught photographer who has recently turned to documenting the landscape and sights of Kansas from his home in Iola. “Maybe five years ago, I started enjoying it more and more and receiving encouragement,” says Jonathan, 46. “Three years ago, I got a real camera. I started out with a Canon Rebel, and now I shoot with an Olympus.” He will also use his cell phone for certain shots. Counting work on his cameras and phone, it is not unusual for Adams to shoot more than a hundred images a day. Adams says much of his art focuses on “finding beauty in Kansas and trying to change people’s perception of Kansas.” For the fourth-generation Kansan, this work is personal. “I grew up in Kansas, in Newton, so I just always felt like everybody had an inferiority complex about Kansas—that everywhere else in the country was better. We were the worst at about everything.” It helped, he says, to leave the land for short periods of time. “I did some traveling out West and spent some time away and remember coming back in late May and just seeing the fields with the wheat that had just come to a head,” Jonathan recalls. “It was still green, and it was blowing in the wind and the sun was setting. I just remember that time and said, ‘I really, really love Kansas.’ Now, I love the mountains and I love the ocean. I love everything, but I really love Kansas.” Jonathan’s photos have been appearing in offices around Iola and Allen County as well as online. Active on Instagram through his account jonathanadamskansas, Jonathan says most of his professional learning now comes from his contacts with the online photography community. “I love learning from other photographers. I love when people say ‘How did you do that? What did you do?’ And, when I interact through Instagram, I talk to people. I ask locations. I ask about settings on their cameras for a certain


shot. Photographers are really, really nice people, and they are happy to share.” Offline, Jonathan notes he enjoys meeting other photographers at Kansas locations. “It ends up being inspiring,” he says. “It becomes a community-type experience. When you see somebody doing something in a creative way, and you think ‘That’s a great shot; I should have thought of that. That’s a neat perspective.’” Jonathan notes that these locations are what most defines his style. “I don’t think I have a style, per se. I see some of these stylized galleries where people have a kind of dreamy look, faded look or moody look; I appreciate it all. My uniqueness is finding interesting places. I travel around and find interesting places and explore. I’m an adventurous guy by nature. I have made a passion of doing micro-adventures, obtainable adventures that everyone could do.” For Jonathan, this means standing in front of sunsets, fountains, waterfalls and dogs, but also bison, bugs, exploding fireworks, old tractors, goats and leaves in ice. Jonathan and his wife, Dawny, have four children ranging in age from 18 to 26: Laurel, Alyssa, Phinehas and Nathanael. He says he regrets not being able to take better quality photos of his children when they were growing up. But, he is doing what he can now— and taking plenty of photos of his grandchildren with better technology and more knowledge behind the lens. In a world where people strive for bigger and better things and experiences, Jonathan says part of what he hopes to achieve with his imagery of Kansas is a return to the basics of beauty in life. “We live in a culture where we are bombarded with images, and everything is better someplace else. People are always trying to make us travel and see some other places,” he notes. “And something tells me to go look in the backyard, go look in the park or at a sunset tonight.”

Adams Jonathan

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en and Shirley McClintock are doers and talkers. Owners of the Trail Days Museum and Café in Council Grove, the couple have been telling the history of the area for decades while restoring the Rawlinson-Terwilliger Home, which was built in 1861 alongside the Santa Fe Trail in Council Grove. That property and restoration work also included an old log building, schoolhouse, café and museum. “I started the project,” Shirley says. “I did not want to do it. I did not intend to do it. This property was in terrible condition.” That was in 1994. Ken was not in favor. But Shirley was undeterred. “It was up for sale, it was in danger,” she recalls. “Someone was going to buy it, tear it down and move in trailer houses. I was motivated to not let that happen.” Shirley led fundraisers and shows at the local theater to raise money. Support came from all directions, including an estate gift from a local schoolteacher who started the momentum. After much work, the stone house opened in 2002 as a restaurant. Ken, a retired attorney, helped get the Trail Days Café and Museum listed as a nonprofit. Now, the couple’s café features historic food on the menu, and the owners dress in period outfits as they serve up food and history. The McClintocks have their own historical connections to the region though Shirley’s is a bit shorter than Ken’s—she is from Iowa and has been in Kansas since they married in 1973. Ken is a fifth-generation Council Grove resident. In fact, his family has personal ties to the restored property: his dad owned a Texaco station there from 1927 to 1977. Initially wary of the magnitude of the restoration project, Ken eventually embraced it. “I was always interested in historic preservation and history and became the town historian,” Ken says. “There are


multiple file drawers of information I have collected over a lifetime. I looked askance on taking on this project because it was a massive, massive project in terrible condition. It was a daunting task.” But his wife persevered in convincing him, and together they undertook it. “I finally closed my office in 2006 to become a fulltime museum curator, groundskeeper, carpenter and electrician,” Ken says. “My chief skill is that I cook and wait tables and am the main storyteller. I try to entertain listeners with stories about historic Council Grove.” Although the couple serve on numerous historic preservation groups and organizations within Council Grove and the Flint Hills region, their core commitment is telling the area’s Euro-American history through their museum and café. “We cover a time span from 1858 to 1977,” Shirley says. “We try to get authentic recipes. I research to find what people would have had available and might have used.” That approach allows them to serve a menu that includes roast buffalo and elk, schnitzel, bratwurst and sauerkraut, colcannon, Irish soda bread, log cabin soup, and sandwiches, which they classify as either “town square” or “European” style. This blend of history and cultures at the core of a small town in a beautiful setting is, for the McClintocks, the essence of Kansas. “There is something about this area that grabs your heart,” Shirley says. “You become a part of what’s here, meld into the land and you can’t leave it.” “We’ve got a proud history,” Ken adds. “I think some of the best people on earth are Kansans in the rural areas. We are living our lives, watching out for each other and interested in our surroundings and communities.”

McClintock Shirley and Ken

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aul Bahnmaier’s ancestors came to Kansas in 1855. On one side of the family, greatgrandfather Garrett Shields was an abolitionist who settled in Jackson County. Another great-grandfather, George Bahnmaier, arrived from Germany to work as a tailor and lived in a dugout southwest of Lecompton for a year before building a home there during the turbulent decade before statehood—when communities were deeply divided on the future of slavery’s expansion into the land and Lecompton was the center of the proslavery forces. More than 150 years later, Paul curates that history—and how it collided in Lecompton—by serving as president of the Lecompton Historical Society and focusing on the city’s role in state and national politics. Indeed, many historians believe the controversies and the early sparks of what went on to become the Civil War began first in Kansas. Constitution Hall was at the center of this, where the disputed proslavery Lecompton Constitution was drafted in 1857, where antislavery immigration groups arrived into the land to settle the territory without slavery and where Free State delegates eventually won out. This is a story with complicated connections across generations and distances, says Tim Rues, site administrator of the state’s Constitution Hall historic site for the Kansas Historical Society in Lecompton. “It’s not only Kansas, national and world history but also family history,” Tim says. “Many of the people in Lecompton are connected with our state’s territorial Civil War history, Paul’s family being one of them. His great-grandfather made the suitcoats for the governors. So, for Paul, this is not only national history but family history, too. He has a connection to it—the roots run very deep, and it’s all intertwined with Kansas.” Paul, who taught at Kansas middle schools for 38 years before

retiring in 2001, has been drawn to this history for decades. His parents, Pete and Edna Bahnmaier, were very much interested in local community activities and in the town’s history. In 1954, when Lecompton was celebrating its territorial roots, Paul’s parents explained the town’s history to him, both in terms of the Civil War and its connection to Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose mother attended school at what was then Lecompton’s Lane College and married David Eisenhower, the future president’s father, at the school’s chapel in 1885. “Not only is it important to our nation as to our Civil War history but then our Eisenhower connection is really like frosting on the cake,” Paul says. That personal connection, however, can force painful examinations when it is embedded into the legacy of slavery. For Paul, it is important to acknowledge all facets of the state’s legacy and share it with future generations. For his work in promoting Lecompton and state history, Paul has received several honors. People around town and in history fields refer to him as “Mr. Lecompton.” In 1980, when Lecompton held a ceremony at the former Lane University, Paul was elected president of the Lecompton Historical Society, a post he has held ever since. And now, Kansas officially honors Paul Bahnmaier with the Governor’s Award. And it is fitting that this recognition comes from beyond Lecompton, because it certainly wouldn’t come from Paul. As colleague Tim Rues notes, in all of Paul’s work and stories about Lecompton he seldom, if ever, self-promotes. “I know he blushes when people call him ‘Mr. Lecompton,’ but I can’t think of a better title,” Rues says. “He is humble, a down-to-earth man. He never seeks the spotlight but devotes his life to the story of Lecompton.”

For his service in promoting Lecompton and Kansas history, Paul Bahnmaier receives a special recognition as recipient of the 2019 “Governor’s Award.”

Bahnmaier Paul

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Began to Die” “Where Slavery

Story by Kelly Gibson

Lecompton’s history remains vital to understanding the beginnings of the Civil War, and the Lecompton Historical Society shares an unflinching interpretation of its role.


Bahnmaier. “We just have the facts. You can’t aul Bahnmaier has known he needed change facts.” to tell the story of Lecompton since he The Lecompton Historical Society was 12 years old. Sitting at the family encourages visitors to take in a few sites dinner table in 1954, Bahnmaier’s parents throughout the northern Douglas County mentioned that Lecompton was purposefully town, most prominently the Territorial left out of the history books. Capital Museum and Constitution Hall, and “They said we were on the losing side of each site is a Freedom’s the war,” says Bahnmaier, Frontier National Heritage “and I thought, ‘What Visiting site, an organization that war? World War II? Korea? highlights areas along the Vietnam?’ No, they meant Kansas/Missouri border that the Civil War.” played a significant role in Established in 1854, TERRITORIAL pre-Civil War Border War. Lecompton served as CAPITAL MUSEUM Constitution Hall State the capital of Territorial Wednesday–Saturday, Historic Site, where the Kansas—a vast region from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Lecompton Constitution the Missouri border to Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. was drafted, is open to Denver—from 1855 until Donations appreciated visitors and includes guided 1861. As the seat of power, ($3 suggested minimum) tours through advance it represented a federal arrangements. At Territorial government that was CONSTITUTION HALL Capital Museum, just a few committed to enforcing STATE HISTORIC SITE blocks away, visitors can slavery laws throughout Wednesday–Saturday, climb the steps into the the nation, and it became 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. three-floors of historical the epicenter of forces that Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. exhibits and Civil War wanted to expand slavery Adults $3, Children $1 artifacts that set the stage for into Kansas territory. Special tour group prices the political discourse and Talking about the can also be found at infighting of Bloody Kansas. town’s important, but This building was meant controversial, role in visit-lecompton-kansas to be the central portion of history seems as natural as the capitol, but when the breathing for Bahnmaier, Lecompton Constitution was defeated by the and he recalls facts and relates them with U.S. House of Representatives, construction quick precision. Facts are important to him. ceased. The building’s purpose was diverted “If you’re telling history, you have to tell to serve as Lane University in 1882. the whole story. You don’t just sell one side,”


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and Lincoln

“Ida Stover came here in the fall of 1884, and David Eisenhower came from Abilene in the fall of ’84,” Bahnmaier says. “They met and were married September 23, 1885, in the chapel upstairs.” But Eisenhower, the U.S. president and son of Ida and David, wasn’t the only president with ties to Lecompton. Bahnmaier relates a favorite anecdote about Chester Arthur. “Chester Arthur was here during the territorial period,” Bahnmaier says. “He was in one of the hotels, and some people got into a fight. One of the people involved in the fight wanted to employ Arthur as his attorney the next day, and Arthur decided it was best to get out of town. So he left town the next day.” Today, that and more history is related in Lecompton by numerous volunteers. Some 20 local historians dedicate their time and talents to sharing the powerful history of Lecompton with visitors from around the world. “This could never have been accomplished without the support of volunteers,” Bahnmaier says. Annually, the Lecompton sites attract between 8,000 and 9,000 visitors, ranging from curious passersby, student groups, and military historians. “This is economic development for this town and this state,” Bahnmaier says, mentioning that when visitors stop in to visit, they are buying gasoline for their cars, purchasing food at local establishments, and shopping in local stores. All of these purchases support a healthy local economy while also preserving a nuanced and in-depth consideration of a troubled and critical time in Kansas and national history.

For the past years, Lecompton has introduced itself with an image of President Abraham Lincoln and the tagline “Where Slavery Began to Die.” It is an adroit way of addressing the city’s history as the center of Kansas’ 1850s pro-slavery political forces and its hosting of a political battle that led to the state joining the Union and fighting with the North in the Civil War. And though Lecompton never hosted Lincoln, those political events are directly tied to the legacy of one of the nation’s most revered politicians. “Lecompton was a pretty important household word in America’s newspapers at the time,” says Paul Bahnmaier, president of the Lecompton Historical Society. “The word Lecompton was used 55 times during the Lincoln Douglas debate. That’s quite a few times.” Furthermore, Bahnmaier and other historians posit that Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have been elected president if it weren’t for Lecompton. A raucous debate about the Lecompton Constitution in the House of Representatives led to a physical fight on the floor and was credited for splitting the Democratic Party and leading to four major candidates in the 1860 presidential election and the result of Abraham Lincoln winning the White House with just 39% of the popular vote. “I am telling the story of Lecompton because this is a national story that led to the election of Lincoln. Lincoln would not have become president had it not been for the Lecompton Constitution,” says Bahnmaier. “It’s a major story that few people know about. That’s why our Lecompton tagline says the birthplace of the Civil War, where slavery began to die.”



A FIELD OF MANGO AND WHEAT Huascar Medina seeks to create places of empathy as Kansas’ newest poet laureate

Story by Amber Fraley

Photography by Nick Krug

This year, when Humanities Kansas tapped Huascar Medina to be the state’s new poet laureate, the Topeka resident stepped into a prestigious literary role shaped by six previous laureates as an advocate for literature, education and creative expression throughout the state. While Medina’s appointment sets new precedents (at 36, he is the state’s youngest poet laureate; he is also the first person of color to represent Kansas in this role), he shares with previous laureates a love for his artform and an eagerness to explore how it can be applied to reflecting and nourishing the lives of Kansans. It’s an experience that he has, in a way, prepared for his entire life, having loved and written poetry from a young age. “There’s never been anything else,” he says. “Poetry is a first love. It was my first best friend growing up. We moved around quite a bit, and books were a safe space for me. I could take them with me. I could find them in a library, or at school, or pick them up at a yard sale.” Medina grew up a military kid. He was born in Killeen, Texas, where his father was a drill sergeant at Fort Hood. He recalls stumbling onto poetry by accident, through reading the novel The Outsiders, which referenced the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost. After this chance introduction, Medina devoured a steady diet of poetry, reading a range of forms and poets, but favoring writers such as Jimmy Santiago Baca and Pablo Neruda. “I’d read everything—their complete works—because I didn’t have direction as a young child,” says Medina. Medina became a Kansan in 2001, when his family moved to Topeka. Here, Medina would help found the Artist’s Wellness Endowment (AWE), a group dedicated to funding the wellness of artists in northeastern Kansas. In his time here, Medina has developed deep ties to the poetry community, and if you’re at a poetry reading somewhere—anywhere—in Northeast Kansas, Medina is likely there too, listening, and, if it’s an open mic, participating. “I really enjoy open mics and being supportive of new poets … the unknown, the unheard,

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the unread,” he says. “Those are the people that I’ve always been around, most of my time in Kansas. Those are the poets I gravitated to.” Now as poet laureate, Medina will be traveling to more events. The two-year position requires travel at least ten times per year, a minimum Medina has already blown past in his first months. “The duties for me are specific. They are to travel the state of Kansas and be accessible to the community and use poetry as a mode of expressing ideas,” he says. “It’s about the movement of ideas. I’m using poetry as an avenue to create discussion. To open up the floor, in a sense, about feelings and ideas.” Poet laureates are also expected to develop a program, Un Mango Grows a focus for their in Kansas travels and speaking engagements. You have found me hidden in a wheat field Medina’s is “May Our within a husk of corn Voices Ring True,” a growing for you concept he sees at the core of creative I am ready pick me expression. “I want people Hold me in your hands to be able to express remove my skin what their truth peel away my color find that I am tender is. Everyone has soft and sweet the capacity to be involved in this poetic Eat of me discussion that I’m until there is nothing and your mouths are empty trying to have. Within and your bellies filled my program there’s a Palestinian poet What is left I’ve quoted named will live as seed Mahmoud Darwish. to grow  He says, ‘Poetry and again beauty are always brighter  making peace.’ When hardened and less bitter you read something beautiful, you find co-existence. It breaks walls down. So I’m attempting to—not break down barriers, necessarily—but blur the line a little between viewpoints and opinions. Truth is not as solid as we make think. It is very malleable. It’s shaped by our views, opinions and the environment we live in. Truth is a deeply personal matter. It is not the same as fact. That’s something we need to accept.” For Medina, the poetry can be a vessel to bridge personal truths because of its accessibility to everyone, at any age and

any point in their lives. “Even if they’re not understanding it, they can still feel it,” he emphasizes. “If you can make someone feel like that from the onset, you capture people’s attention, and then that’s when the conversation really begins. That’s how we can end up in a place of empathy, and that’s how these discussions can grow, and that’s how the movement of ideas begins to flow a lot more smoothly.” One of the first official Humanities Kansas events Medina attended was the Dodge City International Festival, where he read poetry, and had the opportunity to learn about the history of Hispanic culture in Dodge City, including an area of town called “La Aldea,” which in Spanish means “Mexican Village.” The residents of La Aldea were of particular interest to Medina Un Mango Crece because his family en Kansas is of Panamanian and Puerto Rican Me has encontrado escondido en un campo de trigo heritage, and he dentro de una hoja de maíz speaks conversational creciendo para ti Spanish. “They (the people of La Aldea) estoy listo elígeme helped build the railroad that went Abrázame en tus manos through Dodge City,” quitarme la piel he explains. “There’s pelar mi color encuentra que soy tierno been diversity in suave y dulce Kansas for a long time, but it’s not Come de mi always seen. It’s been hasta que no haya nada y tus bocas están vacías surprising to me.” y tus barrigas se llenaron Medina’s latest poetry collection, Lo que queda released in October vivirá como semilla 2019, contains poems crecer written in English de nuevo and translated into más brillante Spanish. The title, Un curtido y menos amargo Mango Grows in Kansas, reflects the —Huascar Medina, 2019 book’s approach to bridging two cultures and languages. “It’s in Spanglish,” he says. “It’s in both languages. It’s a very simple play with words. It’s one. It’s a feeling of isolation. It’s exploring what it’s like to be different than your surroundings. To stand out. I envision a mango tree in a field of corn or wheat. That’s what I’m exploring—that individuality in a place that’s very grounded in a specific way and viewed in a very specific way. It’s about not quite fitting in. But it’s also accepting that we do grow here.”



An update on the newest Kansas state park



he newest state park, Little Jerusalem Badlands, officially opened in October 2019, allowing all Kansans and guests to explore this amazing landscape of Niobrara Chalk formations. The park is a partnership between the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and The Nature Conservancy, both committed to the joint goals of public access and land preservation. The partners created two permanent trails, which allow visitors to enjoy varying views as the 100-foot towering formations seem to shift and open up new vistas from different locations along the route. Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset. Visitors will need to purchase a daily vehicle pass (or show their annual Kansas State Parks vehicle pass). Guided tours can also be scheduled by calling (620) 872-2061 in advance. The park is located in southern Logan County. The best way to approach it is via US Highway 83, turning west on Gold Road for approximately 3.6 miles and then turning north on County Road 400 for approximately 1.2 miles.

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Profile for KANSAS! magazine

KANSAS! Magazine | Winter 2019  

In this issue of KANSAS!, we sit down with Huascar Medina, Kansas' newest Poet Laureate, as he shares his poetic vision. In "Creating the Ne...

KANSAS! Magazine | Winter 2019  

In this issue of KANSAS!, we sit down with Huascar Medina, Kansas' newest Poet Laureate, as he shares his poetic vision. In "Creating the Ne...

Profile for kansasmag