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Kauffman Museum to start its celebration of 150 years of Kansas statehood

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A special Kansas Day celebration Saturday, Jan. 29, on the Bethel College campus will recognize Kansas’ 150th birthday.

Kauffman Museum will be celebrating the state’s sesquicentennial – Kansas joined the Union in 1861 – throughout 2011, and the 14th annual Celebrate Kansas Day! is an important part of that.

Activities begin at the museum at 1:30 p.m. and run through 4:30, and are free and open to the public.

An extended performance schedule begins at 1:45 in the museum auditorium, with Jim Robb, a teacher at Hillsboro High School, portraying a historical figure from 1861 in “Cyrus K. Holliday: Settler and Developer.”

Colonel Cyrus Kurtz Holliday (1826-1900) was one of the founders of the township of Topeka in the mid-19th century. Although he was Adjutant General of Kansas during the American Civil War, the title “colonel” was honorary. He was the first president of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, as well as one of the railroad’s directors for nearly 40 years, and a number of railway locomotives have been named for him.

At 2:30, the Northridge Elementary Kansas Day Singers will perform. This group, consisting mostly of 2nd-grade students, was formed in conjunction with the current special exhibition at Kauffman Museum, “KANSAS: Kids At Northridge Sharing Art and Story.” “KANSAS” was a collaborative project between students at Northridge Elementary School and college students in Bethel’s “Teaching the Expressive Arts” class, taught by LaDonna Unruh Voth, Gail Pryce, Denetta Denno and Brian Postier. The last weekend to see “KANSAS” is Jan. 29-30.

Dale Weishaar of Argonia will perform on his musical saw at 2:45. He began playing the saw in his college days at Mid-America Nazarene University, after two lessons from a fellow choir member. In addition to enjoying music and sharing his own musical talents (he sings and plays piano, organ and guitar in addition to the saw), Weishaar farms, pursues his hobby of collecting insects, volunteers as a 4-H project leader in entomology, judges at county fairs and the Kansas State Fair and serves as president of the Sumner County Farm Bureau Association.

“I will be playing the saw and sharing a little history,” Weishaar said. “I will be using some Kansas songs and church hymns in my presentation, trying to draw on some that might have been sung in Kansas’ early days.”

At 3:30, the Yellow Brick Road quilt from last summer’s Uncle Carl’s Camps quilt camp will be auctioned. The quilt was pieced by Deane Fry and quilted by campers and adult helpers in summer 2010 during “A Stitch in Time: Prairie Quilts.” Proceeds from the auction will benefit educational programming at Kauffman Museum.

There will be a Kansas Birthday Hat Parade at 3:45. Celebrate Kansas Day! attendees will have the opportunity to make a Kansas birthday hat during the afternoon. They can then show off the hats with William Eash, professor of music at Bethel College, leading the parade.

Finally, at 4 p.m., Newton High School’s Azteca Dancers will perform. NHS art teacher Patrice Olais, who coordinates the troupe, said, “The objective of the Azteca Club at NHS is to promote awareness of the Hispanic community, including participation in traditions and customs.”

The make-it-and-take-it craft and activity stations at Celebrate Kansas Day! will include candle making; an old-time photography booth with clothes for dress-up; mini covered wagons; Kansas Day medallions; quilting; Kansas birthday hats; sunflower pens; marble games; pioneer story time in the museum cabin; corn shelling; guessing games; and Kansas birthday cards.

There will be demonstrations and activities at various locations inside and outside the museum, including schoolyard games; horse-drawn wagon rides; Dutch oven cooking; popcorn popping; wood splitting; log hewing; woodshop work; blacksmithing; a Native American teepee; and wood carving.

The Friends of Kauffman Museum will sponsor their usual Kansas Day bake sale, flea market and silent auction. This year’s flea market and auction will feature many vintage 1950s and ’60s items. The auction includes a Franklin Mint Nixon Inaugural plate, Kansas Centennial memorabilia and a1960s Charles Schultz Peanuts® lunchbox with thermos, among other items.

To add to the festivities, the first 500 Celebrate Kansas Day! visitors will receive a Kansas birthday cookie made by North Newton baker Brenda Turner of Cakes by Brenda. In addition, a limited number of Kansas gayfeather wildflower seed packets will be given away. Kauffman Museum staff harvested the seeds from the museum’s prairie reconstruction.

For more information on the 14th annual Celebrate Kansas Day! at Kauffman Museum, call 316-283-1621. For more about the museum, see its website at

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