Cowboys and Settlers

(Frank) Today on Around Kansas we are celebrating both the Cowboys and the Settlers of Kansas. See how organizations and towns are keeping these important heritages alive with celebrations, food, family and fun. With so many things to see and do in Kansas, you will want to make sure to stay tuned.

(Deb) Welcome to Around Kansas at the Kansas Museum of History and we’re celebrating the National Day of the Cowboy today with West Fest. And with me is Joy Brennan. Joy thanks for having us. (Joy) Thanks for being here. (Deb) Well, there are just all kinds of great stuff going on around here. And of course Kansas has such a strong cowboy heritage. So, tell me a little bit about what you guys are doing? (Joy) Well, we’re celebrating the cowboy today. It is a national day to recognize the cowboy, so it’s a perfect fit for us. We have a big history of cowboys in the state of Kansas. We have a big train in our museum of course, that everyone is familiar with. And that last car on our train is a drover’s car, which carried cowboys from Kansas out east to sell cattle many years ago. So we thought that’d be a perfect opportunity for us to celebrate the cowboy and the heritage of it here in Kansas. (Deb) Well, the kids are just having a great time. Just all over the place, so what are some of the activities that you’ve had? The stagecoach rides, that was so cool. (Joy) It’s a fun day today. We do have a stagecoach giving horse drawn rides out in the pasture. And we have donkey cart rides as well. We also have a cowboy obstacle course complete with a cow pie toss and ring the horse and throw a snake in the boot. We’ve had free hot dogs and chips today for lunch at our chuck wagon. We also have allowed visitors to enter our teepee, the full size teepee in our gallery for the first time. We haven’t done that at all before so it’s a special opportunity today. (Deb) Well, the kids have just had a ball. We’ve watched them and just all ages. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve tossed a cow pie. That’s one to put on your bucket list right there. So, Joy the regular exhibits in the museum of course, you mentioned the train already and the teepee, but you have a lot that are related to the cowboy culture and the opening of the west of course, like the buffalo. How long has that buffalo been there? (Joy) Oh, he’s been here since the opening and actually the museum celebrated it’s 30th birthday this summer, so that buffalo is 30 years old. (Deb) Wow. (Joy) Yes, and it shows our visitors what Kansas looked like many years ago when people just traveled across the state on the Oregon and Santa Fe trails and what it looked like for our first settlers who gathered here. (Deb) Well, it’s just fantastic. How about we take a break and we’ll come back and talk about some of the other exhibits at the museum. Stay with us.

(Deb) Welcome back to Around Kansas, we’re with Joy Brennan. And lots of good stuff going on at the National Day of the Cowboy and if you can’t be here for the great events going on today you sure can make it another day because there’s always a great exhibit. And you’ve got a brand new one. If you’ve been to the museum but you haven’t been in the last few days, this is one you’ve got to put on your list. This is beautiful. (Joy) That’s right. We have a new exhibit that opened a couple of weeks ago. Its Real People, Real Stories. And as you enter our gallery you’ll see seven famous Kansans standing there. They’re mannequins, but they’re very life like and you can learn about the history of their story. You can even play on a little tablet and answer 11 questions and figure out what famous Kansan you are most like. So, that’s kind of fun. We also have a brand new museum store. We just opened that as well. And it looks like kind of an old general store, lots of new merchandise and it’s just a great space, so you need to come out and visit. (Deb) That’s right, like I said if you’ve been and you haven’t been in a while you need to come out and see that. Now, I have to say, the yellow brick road winding through the famous Kansans, that’s going to be the most photographed spot in Kansas for generations to come. Everybody’s going to have to have their photo made with one or all of those Kansans. How did you pick them? (Joy) Well, of course the Wizard of Oz, everyone knows us for the Wizard of Oz, so we wanted… we didn’t want to blast it all over, but just the yellow brick road being there gives a little presence of it. And then the famous Kansans, it took a while to pick, you know, which famous Kansans because they’re a lot of them. And I’m sure other people have other opinions about that, but we picked the ones that stood out to us in varying different areas of their history and the story and that sort of thing. Whoa, cow pie just about flew by. But we’re hoping that we see lots of pictures on our Facebook page, so if you haven’t liked us on Facebook please do so. We hope to see a lot of pictures of those famous Kansans out and about soon. (Deb) That’s right and you can share those on Facebook with folks. (Joy) Yeah. (Deb) Yeah, take your pictures and share them on Facebook. Well Joy thanks so much and keep it going. It’s always just a joy to come out and see how people can enjoy the museum and one of the things that’s always been special to me because I’ve got kids and then grandkids is the playroom. And that playroom is just so much fun. Good job. (Joy) Yes, our Discovery Place is always popular. And of course, we have a small train there too and cowboy hats and lots of boots. And kids can dress up today and always. (Deb) And always. Thanks so much. Stay tuned for more of Around Kansas.

(Deb) Welcome to the Kansas Museum of History and we’re here in the most famous artifact and the most popular by far at the Kansas Museum of History and that’s the train with its beautiful Santa Fe engine up front and the cars out back. What would have been the drover’s car and so this is the engine, or rather the passenger cars that the cowboys would have used. So, the cowboys… the whole reason we have that cowboy culture in Kansas is because of the trains. We had cattle being driven from Texas by the cowboys, all those cattle trails, driving those long horns up to the railheads to be shipped back east for slaughter. So, it was a hard life of course and we’ve got Abilene, and we’ve got Dodge City and Ellsworth and all these towns that have gone down in history because of the trains going through and the cowboys driving the cattle through. Now, if you can see the seats behind me in the other car, you can see this wouldn’t have been the most luxurious ride. This… imagine this car filled with cigar and cigarette smoke. Imagine the smell of all those bodies in cramped quarters back when folks were a little skinnier than they are now, and it would have been pretty tightly packed. You had a wood stove up front to provide heat so if you’re sitting in the back of the car; it’s going to be pretty cold in the winter months. If it’s the summer in Kansas, no AC. I don’t know how they got by with that. If you’re opening the windows, you’ve got the dust of the coal blowing back on you. So, it was not a comfortable ride. And it was a luxury for the people at the time, to be able to get on one of these trains and get there a lot faster than a horse or a stagecoach could. So, as we celebrate the National Day of the Cowboy, put it on your calendar to come to the Kansas Museum of History one day and check out all these great artifacts that are connected to that history.

(Matt) My name is Matt Miller; I am the chair of the Oskaloosa Old Settler’s Festival. I am here in beautiful Jefferson County, in the county seat actually of Jefferson County, Oskaloosa, here at the 113th annual Oskaloosa Old Settler’s Festival. And this event takes place right here on the square, the courthouse grounds here in Oskaloosa. The Oskaloosa Old Settler’s Festival actually began roughly 113 years ago. This is the 113th annual Old Settler’s Festival and it all kind of starts when the settlers moved out here and settling the land and they came upon this ground in Jefferson County and the story goes, at that time, the settlers gathered on the courthouse lawn here in Oskaloosa, they ate beans and shared stories about the hardships of settlement throughout the area. So, that’s kind of how the old settler’s festival got its start. As far as the history of Jefferson County, I can tell you a couple people come to mind, a couple founders. Jesse Newell, I should say and Joseph Fitzsimmons. They were actually the founders of Oskaloosa. They came here from the Iowa region, the Iowa state, and made their way into Kansas and founded this town. Jesse Newell is considered the principle founder and his partner Joseph Fitzsimmons was the cofounder. John Stuart Curry is actually a Winchester native, which is just up on the road on Highway 59. He is of course, known for his very famous paintings. I think one of his most famous murals is actually on display in the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. “Tragic Prelude” is the name of that, and that’s what he is most known for. And his boyhood home actually is actually in Old Jefferson Town, which is here in Oskaloosa. I actually, I’ve attended Old Settler’s all my life, I’m 33 and I’ve been attending since I was in diapers. It got to the point where our current chair, she’s been doing this 30 years, she needed some extra help, so I stepped in. This is my fifth year with the festival organizing it. And that’s kind of how I got involved with all the festivities. The attendance for Old Settler’s has grown the past five years. We’re kind of in a transition period. We’re trying to bring in younger people. We’re trying to add new events, special attractions to bring people in. But we’re also trying to preserve the history and some of our traditions here at Old Settler’s. So, it’s kind of a balance that we’ve been working on the past five years and we’ve come such a long way and were really proud of what we have built and what we have improved and the people that are coming in and discovering what this is all about.

My name is Gwen Atkinson; I’m part of the Old Settler’s committee. I am a new addition this year. They brought me on really as a race director for the new 5K we just added in the morning on Saturday. But I am also an MC on stage, so you get to see me talking, be silly sometimes, and lead some of the activities that are going on and that’s really how I got started. They needed somebody and I filled that gap. On Thursday night we featured a couple of different dance groups. We had a dance group come from Chanel Dance Company in Tonganoxie and we had a group from Entertainment Dance Company out of Nortonville last night perform. Tonight we have the Kiddie Pedal Power Pole, Hay Bale toss and a few bands that are playing today. There was also a band last night. We have on Saturday a lot of events going on starting way early in the morning with a 5K race and a big country breakfast, all the way to the evening, finishing off with a big band called Sellout. And they’re out of Lawrence. So, lots of exciting events going on this weekend in Oskaloosa. We’ve incorporated a few different activities and a few different vendors over the years; offer things as people ask for them. This year we have a brand new event; it’s a 5K race. You can walk or run it. And that’s brand new and we’re excited to offer that during the festival. Let me see what else we have that’s new. We have all kinds of old favorites that are back that people like to see like fair rides and funnel cakes.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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