Nostalgia, entertainment and music are on the agenda for the Barton County Historical Society’s holiday open house, “Ghosts of Christmas Past.” It will take place 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at the museum. Admission is free for the day.
The Barton County Historical Museum & Village is located just south of the Arkansas River bridge on U.S. 281 in Great Bend. Regular winter hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Executive Director Beverly Komarek said there will be refreshments and children’s activities, Santa Claus, model trains and village by RIch Fox, and special programs by school children. Displays include “a century of Christmas trees” from the museum collection. New trees have been decorated by eight groups and organizations, as well as the historical society staff and volunteers.
Weather permitting, children will be able to ride the Little Train.
The Historical Village is also the south end of Great Bend’s holiday Trail of Lights. It includes a couple of light displays from Christmas Fantasy Village, a popular holiday attraction that used to be operated by Bob and Carol Martin. A former electrician, Bob Martin created “The Lineman,” an animated light character that appeared to climb a pole.
Trees were decorated by Sunflower Diversified Services’ craft class, Sunflower Day Service, TLC, Girl Scout Troop 20210, Great Bend High School Language Club, Xi Delta Upsilon/Beta Sigma Phi, Central Kansas Christian Academy and Delta Tau ESA.
Musical entertainment starts at 1 p.m. with the Prairie Winds Brass Quintet, followed by a Community Choir Christmas Sing Along. Glenna Gaunt and her music students will provide vocal and piano solos. Great Bend Middle School students will sing at 4 p.m.
The Golden Belt Wood Carvers will have a display, and Great Bend Public Library staff will have a children’s workshop.
The museum’s collection includes a room full of dolls, and a wooden horse and sleigh manufactured by Morton E. Converse & Company in Winchendon, Mass., in the late 1800s.
There is also a “feather tree” from the 1800s, which Komarek said may have come from Germany. Made of wire and died turkey feathers, this may be one of the oldest artificial Christmas trees.
Another tree in the museum’s permanent collection is the Meyers tree, named for the family that donated it.
“We put the Meyers tree up every year because an enterprising lady who lived into her 90s got tired of decorating a tree every year,” Komarek said. She kept the tree decorated but added ornaments to it over the years. “We like her ingenuity and her thrift,” Komarek said, adding the eclectic tree is one of her favorites.