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Smithsonian exhibit arrives in Ellinwood
new slt exhibit MAIN
Robbie Davis from the Smithsonian Institution adds a Coleco game to the exhibit being installed Monday at the Ellinwood School/Community Library. Hometown Teams: How Sports Shaped America, will open Saturday and be at the library until March 15. - photo by photos by Susan Thacker/Great Bend Tribune

ELLINWOOD — Twenty-one crates from the Smithsonian Institution arrived at the Ellinwood School/Community Library on Monday. Inside those crates was an American story: the story of athletes, coaches and the fans who cheer them on. The traveling exhibit, “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shaped America,” will open officially at 10 a.m. Saturday at the library, located at 210 N. Schiller Ave., but those who attend the Chamber of Commerce Coffee at 10 a.m. on Friday can get a sneak peek at the artifacts and over 200 photographs from the Smithsonian’s collection highlighting Americans and their love for sports.
“Hometown Teams” is also a local story, said Tracy Quillin, associate director of the Kansas Humanities Council. Ellinwood and the five other Kansas communities that will have this exhibit over the next year will share their own sports stories.
“We find that a lot of people come to see the Smithsonian exhibit, but they leave talking about the local exhibits,” Quillin said. “It’s about sports and community. There are elements from across the United States represented.”

Close to home
Sharon Sturgis, project director for the Ellinwood exhibit, said a local exhibition, “Heros on the Sideline,” will be on display alongside the Smithsonian pieces.
It will focus on some local sports “heros” who weren’t necessarily in the limelight, Sturgis said. One example is Nick Loburgio, who served on the school board and coached town baseball and basketball teams. He is best remembered as the high school football announcer — a position he held for more than 40 years.
LeRoy Zahn worked track meets, kept score during basketball games for 15 years and ran the clock at football games for 46 years. He also assembled a collection of photographs of all of Ellinwood’s athletic teams. Many of the photos were taken by Fred Meyer, another of Ellinwood’s heros of the sidelines. Meyer volunteered to keep statistics for the football team as an Ellinwood High School junior in 1939, and kept it up for 50 years.
Finally, Henry “Hank” Denker was an enthusiastic member of the pep band until he was in his early 80s.
“We wanted to recognize the contributions of these unsung heros, because they helped to shape our successes and who we are as a sports community,” Sturgis said.
Ellinwood also has old yearbooks on display, and sports cards to give away. The library purchased replicas of old sports equipment and uniforms so kids can have some hands-on fun and maybe pose for a “selfie.”
Both the local exhibit and the Smithsonian exhibit will be on display from Saturday, Jan. 31, through March 15. In the following months, the Smithsonian exhibit will be hosted by libraries or museums in Goodland, Greensburg, Atchison, Perry and Humboldt. Staff from all of those communities came to Ellinwood on Monday. Robbie Davis from the Smithsonian was on hand to provide training on how to assemble the many pieces of the exhibition.
Several other communities will be involved as partner sites to Hometown Teams, Quillin said. Partner sites won’t have the Smithsonian exhibit, but they will feature local sports exhibits.  “Rice County Hometown Teams” will be on display Feb. 8 through July 31 at the Rice County Historical Society; “The Evolution of Hunting From Survival to Marketing to Sport” will be at Fort Larned National Historic Site from March 31 through Nov. 1; and an “Argonne Rebels Drum & Bugle Corps” exhibit will be at the Great Bend Public Library from June 1 through Sept. 6.
A complete list of  “Hometown Teams” communities and partner sites can be found at
More special events and speakers that explore the theme of hometown teams will be announced in the weeks to come, Sturgis said.

About the sponsors
The Hometown Teams Kansas tour is sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program. Its goal is to make Smithsonian exhibitions available to towns with a population under 20,000, Quillin explained. “We had 22 communities apply to host this exhibit, and we only selected six.”
Support for the tour has been provided by the Golden Belt Community Foundation, and support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the U.S. Congress.
Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas Foundation has also enhanced the exhibit with information about healthy behavior, including instructions for sports-inspired exercise, Quillin said. That foundation has provided pedometers to be give away at the exhibits.
Admission to the Ellinwood School/Community Library is free. It is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.