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Kansas Day 2017 at Kauffman Museum to head down the Chisholm Trail

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Chisholm Trail, cowboys, horses and longhorn cattle will be recurring motifs in Kauffman Museum’s annual Kansas Day celebration.

The event starts at 11 a.m. Jan. 28 in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center on the Bethel College campus, with a program by Jim Gray, executive director of the National Drovers Hall of Fame in Ellsworth.

The title of this Kansas Humanities Council Speakers Bureau presentation is “Head ’Em Up & Move ’Em Out.” Gray is an author and a promoter of cowboy heritage in Kansas, who invites listeners to “explore this exciting story of cowboys, cattle and the steak on your plate.”

Gray’s program and all Kansas Day activities in and around Kauffman Museum are free and open to the public.

After the program, the All Fired Up BBQ food truck from Hutchinson will be in the Kauffman Museum parking lot from noon to 5 p.m., with individually priced food items for sale.

Events and activities at the museum start at 1 p.m. and continue until 4 p.m.

The presentations scheduled for the museum auditorium will hold to the cowboy/Wild West theme.

At 1:15 p.m., the Circle Eight Square Dance Club of Newton will perform, followed at 2:15 by a special program on the Chisholm Trail by Gary and Margaret Kraisinger, owners of The Old Hardware Store in Halstead.

The narrative about cowboys driving their longhorns along the Chisholm Trail from south Texas to the railheads of eastern Kansas between 1867 and 1875 is familiar to most Kansans, who also know the famous cattle towns – Abilene, Ellsworth, Newton and Wichita.

The Kraisingers tell “the rest of the story,” centered on Newton, perhaps the most notorious of the cattle towns.

The couple has published three books on Texas cattle trails. Their research has been recognized by the Oklahoma Historical Society, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Parks Service, the Wild West History Association and True West Magazine. They are the 2015 Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame inductees for history.

At 3:15, the local bluegrass band Jammin’ Biscuits will play. Band members are Gerry and Tracey Roberts, Peabody, Aaron Loggan, Moundridge, Brent Entz, Walton, and Matt Dudte, Goessel.

The auditorium events wind up at 3:45 with a cowboy and cowgirl parade, in which participants are invited to show off their best Western wear from home or a vest they’ve made on-site at the museum.

Other crafts, demonstrations and activities inside the museum are predominantly “cowboy-flavored” and include, in addition to vest-making, a cowboy “stamp”-ede, a cowboy card toss, a horse gear and tack display, pony costumes, a “back in the saddle” photo op, trick ropes, and knot-making, along with several others.

Two special features of this year’s Celebrate Kansas Day! are a chance to walk on the part of the Chisholm Trail that crosses the museum grounds, with leader Brian Stucky, a retired educator and historian from Goessel, and to meet Jesse Chisholm, in the form of Roger Juhnke of North Newton.

The Chisholm Trail namesake (born circa 1805, died 1868) was a mixed-blood Cherokee fur trader. He scouted and developed a trail to supply his various trading posts in Indian Territory, now western Oklahoma.

Although Chisholm died before the heyday of the Texas-to-Kansas cattle drives, the wagon road was already known as “Chisholm’s Trail” and the drovers who found it useful for their route dubbed it the Chisholm Trail.

Other outdoor activities include “cowpie” tic-tac-toe, Wild West ropin’, a Dutch oven cooking demonstration, and real live longhorn cattle, as well as favorites from years past such as the Native American tepee, schoolyard games, kettle-popped popcorn and wagon rides from Country Boys Carriage.

Demonstrations throughout the afternoon on the museum grounds include blacksmith Bill Moffett, rope-making, corn shelling, and woodsmen, continuing until 4 p.m.

Note that some outdoor activities are dependent on favorable weather.

Also taking place from 1-4 p.m. inside the museum are a bake sale and a silent auction of antiques and collectibles, sponsored by Friends of the Museum.

Special items in the silent auction are a set of six Frederic Remington paintings in colors–artist’s proofs from 1906, a pair of antique cowboy spurs, a set of 16 National Park Service pamphlets from 1930-31, and two antique revolvers.

Both guns are from the turn of the 20th century. One is an Iver Johnson pearl-grip .32-caliber and the other is an H&R “American Double Action” .38-caliber. All firearms sales will follow state and federal laws.

Proceeds from the silent auction go to the museum’s collections fund, which provides for care of artifacts (for example, conservation, restoration and acid-free storage materials for fragile textiles and papers).

For more information about Kauffman Museum, including regular hours and how to become a museum member, visit its website,, or Facebook page.

Kauffman Museum’s 2017 Celebrate Kansas Day! is supported by a North Newton Community Development Grant, with cooperating partners Bethel College, the Newton Saddle Club and the Kansas Humanities Council.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.