Road trippers can explore the Red Hills and High Plains countryside as well as towns of Barber County (Hardtner, Hazelton, Isabel, Kiowa, Medicine Lodge, Sharon, and Sun City), Comanche County (Coldwater, Protection, and Wilmore) and Kiowa County (Greensburg, Haviland, and Mullinville).
When the Kansas Sampler Foundation decided to replace the long-standing Kansas Sampler Festival with a new event called the Big Kansas Road Trip, they knew that all they would request from the small towns was to just be themselves. Foundation assistant director WenDee Rowe said, "They are achieving that standard in the most excellent way."
In addition to the main attractions that range from the Big Well to the Gypsum Hills Scenic Byway, homemade pie to the Wilmore carousel, towns have created a long menu of activities that will assist people in understanding rural culture. Greensburg tourism director Stacy Barnes said, "We want to provide a glimpse into why we’ve chosen to live here."
From bingo and homemade pie, raffles, two scavenger hunts, a Kansas Explorer auto bingo, book signings, classes on succulents (Protection), a digital art crawl (Coldwater), a volunteer fire department open house (Wilmore), and movies in the two theaters (Coldwater, Greensburg), a traveling Stump, plus dozens of more activities, the public will have a hard time choosing what to do because of the many good choices.
For $20 and with reservations, people can enjoy a "Friday Night on the Dale Family Farm" near Protection. The fee covers a meal, a tour, and live music. The same night there will be live music at the Chief Theatre in Coldwater at 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 5, will be a busy day. The Pioneer Festival will take place in Kiowa, complete with a rodeo and cowboy driving steers down Main Street. The threshing show grounds near Haviland (502 E. Walnut) will showcase wheat threshing, rock crushing, and sawmill and stationary hay baler demonstrations from 1-4 p.m.
At 10 a.m. in Hardtner, the Barber County Spring Livestock Show will begin. From 9-11 a.m. and 1-3 p.m. the Heart of America Science Resource Center (312 E. Hwy. 54) In Haviland will have a meteorite presentation and a field trip to a meteor field.
Musical entertainment will start at the Fromme-Birney Round Barn near Mullinville at 6:30 p.m. A Scholarship Art Auction at You're Fired Ceramics and Canvas in Coldwater starts at 7 p.m. For $10, a person gets drinks and hors d'oeuvres and the chance to bid on local art for a good cause.
During the four-day span a historical stained glass tour in Medicine Lodge and walking tours of the courthouse, hospital, school and cemetery in Greensburg or a bicycle tour of the town (bicycles provided) are planned.
Internationally-known artist Stan Herd, a native of Protection, will give a talk at the Protection library at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Artist Erika Nelson from Lucas will give tours of M.T. Liggett's artwork (start at N. Elm) at 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Tours are available of the Mullinville round barn as well as the Sternberger round barn at 10866 SW Hackberry west of Hardtner.
Foundation director Marci Penner said, "We've just given you the tip of the iceberg. There are many more events including cookies with Carry Nation in Medicine Lodge! There is something at every turn. Go to bigkansasroadtrip.com for more information or pick up day programs in the county seat towns. We’ll see you on the road!"