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Museum’s annual celebration marks 145 years of Kansas history

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Burn ban may limit outdoor demonstrations

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. -- The state of Kansas turns 145 this year and, as usual, Kauffman Museum invites everyone to come and celebrate on Saturday, Jan. 28. Celebrate Kansas Day! at Kauffman Museum takes place from 1:30-4:30 p.m., with admission free to all ages.

The current burn ban in Harvey County may affect two popular demonstrations, blacksmithing and popcorn popping, which require open fires. If the ban is still in effect on Jan. 28, those demonstrations will not take place.

However, dry weather won’t stop this new event: If you have some clothing in your family that dates from pioneer days, or is made that way, this is the time to show it off.

Wear your pioneer clothes to Celebrate Kansas Day!, come to the museum auditorium at 3:15 for a "fashion parade" and receive a small prize. Sara Ratzlaff from Goessel will be wearing her own pioneer garb and will give a short talk about it.

Also new this year are a Native American tepee that will be set up in front of the museum, a hands-on apple peeling activity, and the Great Sunflower Scavenger Hunt. "Participants will look through the museum for hidden sunflowers that give clues to the answer to a riddle," said Andi Schmidt Andres, Kauffman Museum curator of education. "All those who complete the Great Sunflower Hunt will have their names put into a drawing for a prize."

Butter making is not new at Celebrate Kansas Day! However, what’s different this year is that it will be demonstrated in the Voth-Unruh-Fast Farmstead house where volunteer Susan Rhoades, rural Newton, will bake zwiebach in the grass-burning oven. So you can sample fresh butter on warm bread.

In addition to the pioneer clothing demonstration, other performances in the Kauffman Museum auditorium will be Irish dancing by students from the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts at 1:45, old-time music played on the saw by Dan White at 2:45 and a talk on Kansas wildlife by Carol Dilts-Jones at 4.

White works in Hesston and lives on a farm in rural Newton. He taught himself to play the musical saw about 20 years ago after hearing a saw player at a barn dance in Iowa. He will share a short history of the musical saw and saw playing, and will perform numbers that include waltzes, gospel tunes and seasonal music.

Dilts-Jones, from rural Sedgwick, is a former naturalist for Harvey County. She is now a wildlife rehabilitator and educator. She will bring live animals to her presentation.

Other activities being repeated from past Celebrate Kansas Day! events include wheat weaving; an old-time photo booth; make-it-and-take-it crafts such as paper sunflowers and paper quilt squares; corn shelling; and demonstrations of spoon making, wood hewing and pottery making.

Other favorite events that return this year include old-fashioned schoolyard games (including marbles, introduced at Celebrate Kansas Day! in 2005), wagon rides given by Country Boys Carriage, owned by Jan and Winston Sommerfeld of rural Newton, and the chance to visit the Voth-Unruh-Fast Farmstead with its house, barn and windmill. A blacksmithing demonstration by Steve Hurlock of Wichita, who would be coming for the fifth straight year, and popcorn popping in a large iron kettle over a wood fire are scheduled but are subject to there being enough moisture before then for outdoor burning to take place safely.

There will also be a bake sale, flea market and silent auction featuring original art, handcrafted items and antiques, all sponsored by the Friends of Kauffman Museum and going on all afternoon.

Celebrate Kansas Day! at Kauffman Museum is supported by a North Newton Community Development Grant.

All activities will be held at the museum at 27th and North Main in North Newton. For more information, call Kauffman Museum at (316) 283-1612.

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