The Big Kansas Road Trip is coming your way next week!
Postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BKRT is set to happen May 6-9 in Nemaha, Brown and Doniphan counties.
Organized to help the public get to know rural communities and see what they have to offer, the annual event is sponsored by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, along with the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau locally.
Marci Penner with the Kansas Sampler Foundation said the Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) is like a big open house with communities of every size and businesses ready to receive visitors. Communities are asked to simply be good at being themselves. It’s a great way for the public to learn about the communities, support local business and interact with locals.
Organizers for Brown County are Linda Duesing of Hiawatha and Connie Werner of Horton, along with Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau Administrator Sarah Kleopfer. They have been working with the Kansas Sampler, local cities and groups to help promote BKRT and plan events that are outlined in the 51-page guidebook and the website bigkansasroadtrip.com.
Duesing said many events are still planned as listed in the guidebook — which is available at the Hiawatha Chamber office up until the event and through the BKRT weekend and the library and Carwell Building at the Ag Museum May 6-9. BKRT will have updates as will the bigkansasroadtrip.com website and the Facebook page. In addition to events, visitors and locals alike are just encouraged to investigate all of the attractions in the guidebook.
Some local events highlighted include a display at Tice Healthmart in Hiawatha, where information about the business being the oldest pharmacy in Brown County will be on display.
On Saturday night at 7 will be music at Bethany United Church of Christ in Hiawatha with Sarah Kleopfer, Shane Spangler and Kenya Patzer.
The Cook Shack will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday for lunch at the Ag Museum with bison burgers and the fixins’ available and stop by on Saturday for a blacksmith demonstration and Long Rifle Muzzle Loaders Encampment.
At 1 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, Doug Grimm will give a Maple and State Tree presentation near the tennis courts. Some local events added include the Hiawatha High School’s production of Grease at 6 p.m. downtown at the courthouse square on Friday, May 7 and Saturday, 8.
Stop by Robinson for a sloppy joe lunch Thursday and Friday and a pancake breakfast on Saturday morning at the Community Building. The historic Birdcage Theatre will be open for tours and a melodrama skit will be presented at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Werner Wagon Works will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday for visitors and Werner said Horton businesses are busy preparing for this event.
“Everybody is excited — people are taking that extra step to clean out their buildings, get more inventory and get ready to welcome our guests,” Werner said. “It can only be a good thing.”
Werner said the website has more than 5,500 hits and if that’s any indication the area could be looking at several hundred visitors — not all at once, of course, but throughout the four day-event. She also anticipated the BKRT will have a residual effect and as people collect and keep guidebooks, this will prompt more visitors throughout the years to come.
Also in Horton, a baked goods sale will be going on at the Senior Citizen Center, where the “Sacks to Mats” group will be demonstrating how they transform shopping bags into mats for the homeless. Stop by the English Leather Shop downtown to make a BKRT souvenir.
In Fairview, Stan G. Keim invites everyone to stop by and see his truck collection and transportation memorabilia display at the Long Haul Truck Wash lot.
Other local organizers are Leah Johnson in Doniphan County; and Kylee Bergstrom and Gina Murchison in Nemaha County. Check the website to view events and attractions in each of their counties, along with additional Brown County events and information on attractions.
The BKRT was held in Barber, Comanche and Kiowa Counties in 2018 and in Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace counties in 2019. The 2022 counties will be announced at the Kansas Explorers Club meeting in Powhattan on Sunday, May 9 at 10 a.m.
Penner will give a final presentation at the Powhattan City Park. Also at Powhattan that day is a Pancake Feed from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Legion Hall.
Duesing — who visited Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace counties for the 2019 BKRT with her husband Wes — said this is the final event of the weekend.
They will be selling T-shirts, BKRT car flags,the Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers and 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook along with memberships to the Kansas Explorers.
In addition, Penner gives “stump talks” Duesing said — which will be at a designated location in each county on any of the three days. Brown County’s “Stump Talk” will be on Friday, May 7 at 1:15 p.m. at the Ag Museum in Hiawatha and at 3 p.m. at Electric City Emporium, 140 E. Eighth in Horton.