Kauffman Museum hosts annual Kansas Day event
The Kansas Day event hosted by Kauffman Museum is an opportunity for community members of Bethel college and the surrounding North Newton area to celebrate the land which is now Kansas and the community of peoples who once inhabited this land. It is also an opportunity for one to gain a brief but nonetheless fascinating insight into Kansas history and culture.The atmosphere of the event can be described as playful and fun as well as insightful “There are programs and hands-on activities inside, a bake sale, and activities and demonstrations outdoors including horse drawn wagon rides and popcorn made over a fire.” Said Andi Schmidt Andres, Director of Kauffman Museum.
A person new to this event will gather a mood carnivalesque from the Kansas Day celebration, as is transported into the world of prairie life, especially shown from the perspective of the mennonite settlers of the 1870’s. For example, the Voth/Unruh/Fast Farmhouse on display behind the Kauffman Museum can be referred to as a relic of the Mennonite settlers. “An Eastern European/Russian style of interior decor and architecture are conveyed in this house.” Said David Kreider the Museum Technician. The preservation of the Voth/Unruh/Fast Farmhouse transports visitors into tales of how the first Mennonites even reached Kansas, and sparks questions like, “what was it like to start a new life in America?” This house has seen the coming and going of three families from 1870’s with the Voth family; who then sold the house to the Unruh’s in 1884, and then the Fast family from the 1930’s to 1950.
Additionally, the Kansas Day event hosted by the Kauffman Museum, has a good amount of experience as the first Kansas Day celebration “was held in 1998, making this the 25th hosted at Kaufmann.” said Andres. One can say it has been quite successful at attracting guests from the community as “the attendance averages around 700 guests with an all-time high of 1100 guests,” said Andres.
A unique feature of last Saturday’s event was its theme as it aimed at celebrating the contributions of famous Kansans to the culture of the state. These included, “Blackbear Bosin, William Allen White, Gordon Parks, George Washington Carver, Amelia Earhart, Walter Chrysler, James Naismith and Laura Ingalls Wilder.” The stories I had the opportunity of hearing about at the event where those of Blackbear Bosin, a self taught Kiowa-Comanche, painter and sculptor who sculpted the Keeper of the Plains in Wichita, and the story of Wiliam Allan White, a newspaper editor who, through his ownership of the Emporia Gazette, brought affluence to Kansas.
The Kansas day celebration at Kauffman is an annual opportunity that Bethel college students should take advantage of in order to gain a sense of the significance of the setting in which they are studying, especially for those who do not call Kansas home.