Pioneers, cowgirls and basketball fans alike celebrated the 150th anniversary of Kansas becoming a state on Saturday, which was Kansas Day.
The observance will continue all year at places like the Barton County Historical Society. It was also celebrated one day early at places like Park Elementary School in Great Bend, where kids spent the entire day in Kansas mode.
In fact, the historical society staff and volunteers presented some of the programming Friday at Park School, and Saturday at the Great Bend Public Library. Beverly Komarek, Karen Neuforth and Joe Boley talked about the pioneers who followed the trails to Kansas, the settlers and the cowboys, and things people did for entertainment before there were video games or even electric lights. Baseball and live music were two favorite pastimes, said Boley, who brought a slide trombone as a prop.
Sixth graders had studied their Kansas history and gave a PowerPoint presentation. There were also presentations by the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, and activities such as making butter.
Great Bend attorney Marty Keenan was a hit as he passed around fossils, arrowheads and other Kansas items. He also let kids try on a pair of granny glasses, "worn by a pioneer woman 100 years ago," and Kansas basketball legend Danny Manning’s warm-up suit. The children already knew that the game of basketball was invented in Kansas, but many were amazed to learn Manning is 6 feet, 11 inches tall.
The library’s Kansas Day offerings included free biscuits and gravy, along with a cake decorated with the Kansas state flower, the sunflower, served by staff and volunteers wearing old-time clothing. Next to the servers, three cowboys and a native American woman sat around a "campfire," telling stories. But just a few feet away from where Art Hurley discussed cattle drives, teens were playing Guitar Hero and other Wii games. There were also crafts and stories for younger children.