ELLINWOOD — The sound of a thundering herd of 400 longhorn cattle will reverberate through the streets of Ellinwood at 1:30 p.m. Saturday as they are driven through the city as a part of the 150th birthday celebration of Kansas’ statehood.
Committees have been meeting and plans made since January. Professional cowboys have driven the cattle overland with all of the provisions for water and hay and food that were required 150 years ago needed. A large corps of volunteers has been required.
"I felt it was a once in a lifetime opportunity the community couldn’t pass up," said Jacque Isern, one of the organizing volunteers. "We anticipate a fabulous day. We’ve had an outpouring of community support."
The route follows the old Cox Cattle Trail to the Kansas Pacific Railhead at Ellsworth. The trail was originally used in 1873. Today’s cowboys will trail cattle on the same route used by original drovers, bed down the cattle on the old bed grounds and camp at the same camps. The herd will cross the prairie and rivers.
The authentic cattle drive started in Caldwell on Sept 3. and will end in Ellsworth on Sept. 24.
Unless noted, all of the activities will take place in or around Wolf Park in downtown Ellinwood.
A full slate is planned for the entire day, beginning with storytelling by Nolan Sump at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. He tells his true stories in first person. Sump will talk about a German immigrant farmer and his life both in Germany and the U.S.
At 10:30 a.m., there will be a free petting zoo and pony rides for the children. Take a frontier photo dressed in old-fashioned clothing from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Find your bonnet or your chaps and participate in an old-fashioned clothing style contest and mustache or beard contest. Registration begins at 10:45 a.m. and the contest review begins at 11 a.m. The beards/mustaches will be reviewed at 11:30 a.m.
The categories include best overall costume, best child’s costume, best female costume, best male costume, best mustache and best beard. Costumes will be judged on theme, originality and creativity. Beards and mustaches will be judged on artistic and creativity. Cash prizes will be awarded.
There will be kids games and crafts with a western theme from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pull out the stick horse to see which one can race the fastest.
Gunslingers from the Old West will fight it out at 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Novice gunslingers can try their hand at the fast draw exhibition which starts at 11 a.m. Contestants will be provided with a holster and gun, and the time will measured electronically.
"It’s really cool," said Nancy Baird, Ellinwood Chamber of Commerce director.
Marla Matkin will present a living history of a woman from the late 1800s.
Another event is tunnel tours at noon and 3:30 p.m.
Experience a ranch rodeo from 3-5:30 p.m. at the northwest corner of 7th and Park Streets. The cost is $5 to raise money for the Sons of the American Legion pediatric medical fund. Events include branding, sorting, stray gathering, cow milking and kids activities.
End the evening with a concert by Judy Coder at Ellinwood High School.
Mayor Frank Koelsch was pleased with the communities’ involvement in the cattle drive. He said, "It is a great opportunity for the city of Ellinwood to showcase the many attributes of Ellinwood. I want to thank everybody that worked on the cattle drive including Lloyd Kurtz, Larry Dannebohm, Stan Isern and Jacque Isern for getting the community enthusiastic about this huge project.
"I’d like to thank Nancy Baird and the chamber for the Saturday events that they coordinated," he said.