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State symbols create theme for this year’s Kansas Day celebration

January 13th, 2020

A view of "K is for Kansas" at Kauffman Museum

Kauffman Museum hosts its annual "Celebrate Kansas Day!" on Saturday, Jan. 25, in and around the museum.


This year's Kansas Day celebration will explore Kansas symbols, from sunflowers to box turtles, bison to meadowlarks, honeybees to Kansa Indians.

The museum and grounds open at 1 p.m. for an afternoon of special programs and activities. Admission to the museum and all activities are free on Kansas Day.

Programs begin at 1:15 p.m. in the museum auditorium with Jay Price, Wichita State University, speaking on “Searching for a Symbol: Creating an Identity for the Sunflower State.”

Price is chair of the history department and directs the public history program at Wichita State University. He serves on the board of the Wichita Sedgwick County Historical Museum and the University Press of Kansas, and is a regular history commentator on “Past and Present” at KMUW-FM, Wichita Public Radio.

At 2:15, Ken Rodgers, a music faculty member from Hesston College, will lead a “Home on the Range” sing-along. He will play a variety of familiar songs, most of them about or related to Kansas, including some tunes on the historic Teschemacher-Deknatel-van der Smissen parlor organ.

Finally, at 3:15, Lorna Harder, retired Hesston biology faculty member, will talk about the Kansas state bird in “Western Meadowlark: From Neglected Starling to State Bird.”

This year’s theme, “Kansas Symbols,” meshes well with the current special exhibit at Kauffman Museum, “K is for Kansas,” which will be open to visit during Celebrate Kansas Day!.

Special activities inside the museum include make-it-and-take-it crafts (craft-stick bison, Ad astra window star, origami meadowlark, tissue-paper sunflower, honeybee pencil topper, Kansa Indian craft), games (Name that Artifact, State Bean-bag Toss) and displays (Harvey County Then & Now, beekeeping equipment, bee-friendly plants).

Returning favorites on the museum grounds are popcorn popping over an open fire, the Native American teepee, Bill Moffet’s blacksmithing demonstrations, the woodsmen, corn shelling, wagon rides from Country Boys Carriage, old-fashioned schoolyard games and a chance to visit the restored farmhouse, which will be open and heated.

There will also be rope making, a branding station, “buffalo chip” tic-tac-toe, and “turtle” races.

Note that some outdoor activities depend on favorable weather.

Visitors are asked to park in the Thresher Stadium lot, in front of Thresher Gym or in the Luyken Fine Arts Center lot, rather than in the museum parking lot, to allow food trucks and customers plenty of room.

Also 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 this year’s auction include a Kansas map from 1887, a black powder-horn, a bisque doll, a vintage birthday cake stand, a DAR Good Citizen pen, a collectible Norman Rockwell plate, a Pfalzgraff cookie jar and a silver memento box.

Proceeds 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).

The food trucks, from LeJ’s BBQ, Prairy Market and Deli, and Tacos Ana’s, will have food and beverage items for sale from 11 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. in the museum parking lot.

Kauffman Museum’s 2020 Celebrate Kansas Day! partners are the City of North Newton, Harvey County Historical Museum, Newton Saddle Club and the Bethel College Office of Admissions.

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

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, and 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission to the special exhibit “K is for Kansas” and the permanent exhibits, “Of Land and People,” “Mirror of the Martyrs” and “Mennonite Immigrant Furniture,” is $4 for adults, $2 for children ages 6-16, and free to Kauffman Museum members and children under 6. For more information, call the museum at 316-283-1612 or visit its website,, or Facebook page.

About Bethel

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.