The Kansas Sampler Foundation began the 8 Wonders of Kansas project in 2007. For those of you who know nothing about this program, the public were encouraged to vote for their favorite attractions in Kansas. For the first contest, the public chose from twenty-four finalists, these eight wonders:
Big Well, Greensburg
Castle Rock and Monument Rocks, Gove County
Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, Barton and Stafford Counties
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene
Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson
Kansas Underground Salt Museum, Hutchinson
St. Fidelis Church (also known as the Cathedral of the Plains), Victoria
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase County
Over the next few years, the Kansas Sampler Foundation compiled many more votes and formed eight additional lists focusing on Kansas architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people. Including all of the finalists and those picked for the original 8 Wonders list, this creates 216 different places to visit in Kansas.
The Eisenhower Presidential Library has been displaying an exhibit focused on these many attractions throughout this year, and will continue to do so until September 5, 2011. Recently, the Kansas Sampler Festival also released a guidebook focusing on the many wonders of Kansas. More information on this book can be found here. This is a fantastic book that not only features a plethora of information on some interesting things to do and see in Kansas, but also features some amazing photographs of each and every place included on the list.
It always baffles me when I hear people say that there is nothing to do in Kansas, or that Kansas is a boring place to live. If you truly believe this, you are not trying hard enough to find activities for yourself. Do you like museums? Kansas has several. Do you like the outdoors? Well Kansas has many scenic places to visit (Monument Rocks and the Flint Hills are just two examples). Many Kansas communities have art shows, incredible music festivals, live theatre, and sporting events. This list could go on and on. The point is, there are plenty of things to do in Kansas, if you just get out and do them.
This summer, I am going to try to visit a number of the attractions featured in the Kansas Sampler Foundation's 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook. As I visit these, I plan to take some photographs and write a blog post about each of these places I visit (a few places will be pretty easy since I live in Abilene, and our community has a number of attractions featured in the book).
I have lived in Kansas my entire life. I love learning new things about Kansas history, and I consider myself at least somewhat knowledgeable about the history of my state. However, there are many places in Kansas that I have never been to, and many things I know nothing about. I plan to change that.