|In honor of the Kansas Territorys sesquicentennial in 2004, cities across the state will hold festivals and events to celebrate their rich heritage.|
|By Patsy Bell Hobson
Most birthday celebrations usually grow shorter with age, but Kansas is defying that natural law. Theres a big party on the prairie throughout the year in honor of the Kansas Territorys 150th anniversary.
In addition to the statewide celebrations, several communities formed during the Kansas Territory will celebrate their sesquicentennials.
The crown jewel of the Territorial Sesquicentennial celebration is the 2004 Bleeding Kansas Chautauqua. For five days and nights, four Kansas communities will present education and entertainment under an old-fashioned tent in the park.
Bleeding Kansas: Where the Civil War Began will feature the portrayals of six historical figures: John Brown, David Atchison, Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Clarina Nichols and Frederick Douglass. They will tell in their own words how their lives and actions affected the Kansas Territory and Americas future. (See related story.) The Bleeding Kansas Chautauqua, presented by the Kansas Humanities Council, will include youth programs, elderhostels, territorial music, Underground Railroad sites and even a partial re-enactment of the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
More than Amelia
This beautiful and historic railroad and river town knows how to throw a birthday party.
The best way to get an overview of Atchison is to begin with a narrated trolley tour starting at the historic Santa Fe Depot. Tours are offered May through October. The newly renovated depot also houses the visitors center, and the Atchison County Historical Society museum offers a friendly introduction to a charming city.
Atchison is proud of its native daughter, aviatrix Amelia Earhart. She is honored everywhere, including the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum; The Amelia Earhart Earthwork, a one-acre crop art work created by nationally recognized artist Stan Herd; and the International Forest of Friendship, a beautiful park comprised of trees representing all 50 states and more than 35 foreign countries.
The Atchison sesquicentennial party is June 1320 and will include riverboat rides, a melodrama premier, parade, ice cream social and multi-church choirs and worship services. Join the contests, including: Deafy Boular memorial bricklaying contest, golf ball drive across the wide Missouri river, black powder turkey shoot, biggest liar contest and best whistle contest. Whats being billed as the biggest birthday cake in Kansas is also part of the fun.
Call 1-800-234-1854 or visit online at www.atchisonkansas.net.
The first city of Kansas
Leavenworth is the first city in Kansas, founded in 1854. It served as the springboard for the settlement of the rest of the state and the support base for the opening of the West. Built largely to support the fort and the settlers heading west, the citys Historic Wayside Tours commemorate notable events and locations in the community.
Walk or drive to the waysides, which are interactive displays located around the city. Short recorded narratives about historic sites and images of significant people, structures or events highlight the tour.
Fort Leavenworth has devoted more than 170 years of service to the nation. At the fort, see the Buffalo Soldier Monument, Berlin Wall monument, Santa Fe and Oregon Trail cuts and the national cemetery. You need photo identification to enter the fort.
Discovery Days, July 14, will celebrate Leavenworths sesquicentennial with a party, parade, re-enactments and a traveling art exhibit featuring American Indian works.
Contact Leavenworth Convention and Visitors Bureau, 1-800-844-4114 or (913) 682-4113, www.lvarea.com/cvb.
Free state fortress
Lawrence tours start at the Visitor Information Center in the Union Pacific depot at the corner of North Second and Locust streets. As you watch the film, Lawrence: Free State Fortress, you can hear and feel the citys past and present as nearby trains rumble by.
The best way to enjoy Lawrences great shopping and dining is to park and walk down pedestrian-friendly Massachusetts Street. A wide variety of multi-use trails are available in Lawrence for bicyclists, walkers and nature lovers. Pick up free, self-guided driving, walking or biking tour maps at the visitor information center.
The University of Kansas is in the center of town. Visit the beautiful Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics on KUs west campus. Truly a college town, Lawrence also is home to Haskell Indian Nations University, the countrys oldest inter-tribal university. The new Haskell Cultural Center has exhibits from the schools archival collections.
Contact the Lawrence Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1-888-LAWKANS (888-529-5267) or www.visitlawrence.com
he Kansas History Center affords a chance to prepare for your sesquicentennial visit. An exhibit recalls the Territorial sesquicentennial, April 2 through Oct. 1. The exhibit will include artifacts such as John Browns Pike, used against the U.S. arsenal at Harpers Ferry; the Abbott Howitzer, captured during the sacking of Lawrence; and a shackle cut from a slaves leg.
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