WHY 8 WONDERS, INSTEAD OF 7?
Though it was the updating of the 7 Wonders of the World that started this modern day craze of choosing 7 Wonders from a multitude of different regions, the decision to find the 8 Wonders of Kansas was recognition of the 8 rural culture elements used since 1993 by the Kansas Sampler Foundation to identify tourism assets of a community.
WHAT ARE THE 8 RURAL CULTURE ELEMENTS?
The Kansas Sampler Foundation has identified architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people as something that every town has or has a story to tell about and everything in a town fits into one of these categories.
WHO THOUGHT OF THIS IDEA?
Von Rothenberger, Kansas Explorer #8, approached the Kansas Sampler Foundation about Kansas being involved in the craze to determine the 7 Wonders of a specific geographic place. The Kansas Sampler Foundation suggested that we recognize the 8 elements of rural culture and find the 8 Wonders of Kansas--and then do a contest for each of the 8 elements: architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people!
HISTORY OF THE CONTEST
The 8 Wonders of Kansas contest series is a perfect project to fulfill one of the Kansas Sampler Foundation's objectives of educating Kansans about Kansas. In the end, we're literally educating the world.
Every contest began with public nominations followed by a selection committee choosing 24 finalists from the public nominations. In June 2007, the list of 24 finalists was announced for the overall 8 Wonders of Kansas. Voting ended in December of that year and on January 29, 2008, Governor Kathleen Sebelius announced the top 8 in a Kansas Day ceremony at in the state capitol rotunda. Later, in alphabetical order, a 4-month contest cycle for each of the 8 rural culture elements (architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people) was held and was completed in 2010.
The most numbers of votes were 19,000+ in the History contest. In each contest there have been votes from every state and some several foreign countries. In the end, over 100,000 voted for their favorite wonder.
This was a one-time contest series. It's one for the ages and will be looked upon with historical interest as the years go by.
The goals of the contest are to educate the world about what there is to see and do in Kansas and to encourage travel in Kansas!
WHAT IS THE KANSAS SAMPLER FOUNDATION?
The Kansas Sampler Foundation is a public non-profit whose mission is to preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture. Find out more at www.kansassampler.org. The Foundation was founded by Mil Penner and daughter Marci Penner in 1993. The offices are located on a farm near Inman.
WHAT IS THE KANSAS EXPLORERS CLUB? The Kansas Explorers Club is a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation and was created to inspire, educate, and encourage the exploration and appreciation of Kansas...and to have fun doing it. The main benefit is a bimonthly membership newsletter that helps Explorers see Kansas with new eyes! Go to explorekansas.org to learn more or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for a sample newsletter.
The 8 Wonders of Kansas project has done more than educate the world about Kansas. It has also caused an increase in business at many of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce finalist locations!
Don Koerperich of Koerperich Bookbinding in tiny Selden, Kansas was a recent finalist for the 8 Wonders of Kansas Commerce contest. Although they didn't make the top 8 they were still honored to be a finalist and said, "The publicity has been great for us. No big customers yet, but our web traffic has increased considerably and we are getting quite a few small jobs from it."
Don Walsh, owner of MarCon Pies in Washington, Kansas was one of the top 8 winners in the Commerce category. Don reported that, "business has picked up since the contest, and with the downturn in the economy I'm smiling!"
The following is commentary written by Rex Buchanan for Kansas Public Radio prior to our first 8 Wonders contest--so it was written sometime in April or May of 2007. He does a great job of describing why Kansas is so "wonder" full.
Rex Buchanan is co-author of Roadside Kansas: A Guide to Its Geology and Landmarks and Petroglyphs of the Kansas Smoky Hills and co compiler of Kansas Groundwater, published by the Kansas Geological Survey.