A generous city-- Liberal, Kan.
By Susen Foster
At the junction of Highways 83 and 54 in southwest Kansas lies Liberal, a town that has earned the right to be called a city. Besides the large industrial base, a college that serves a huge geographic area, and a forward thinking city government, Liberal is also a destination for families from across the country because of its attractions, events and history.
It is said that when Dorothy tapped her heels together and said the words "there's no place like home" she was referring to rural Liberal, Kan., and she and her friends hold a place of honor in Liberal at Dorothy's House where kids of all ages can follow the "yellow brick road" as they visit places and characters from Dorothy's windswept adventure--Munchkinland, the Emerald City, Glinda, the Good Witch of the West, and even the little house that curled the toes of the Wicked Witch of the East.
Then there is Mid-America Air Museum, the fifth-largest general aviation museum in the country. It houses more than 105 aircraft including civilian, military, experimental, helicopters, and homebuilt--a treasure of aviation history that reminds the world that Liberal was once the home of one of Beech Aircraft's largest manufacturing plants.
Since 1950, the women of Liberal joined forces with the women of Olney, England, to uphold a tradition that symbolizes peace and unity. The participants square off in a fun, fast-paced race to the finish line carrying skillets with pancakes inside. The International Pancake Day Hall of Fame sits right on the finish line of the race, offering visitors a glimpse of the rich history of the event and the collection of items given to Liberal by Olney throughout the years.
Another popular attraction includes a collection of artifacts dating back to 1541 when Don Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 36 soldiers entered what is now southwest Kansas in search of the "Seven Cities of Gold." All of this and more are visible at the Seward County Historical Museum.
As you can see, Liberal is not only a healthy, growing community, it is also a wonderful place to visit. And because of all Liberal has to offer, the city was chosen to be the location of the 2012 and 2013 Kansas Sampler Festival--an honor and an opportunity.
The Kansas Sampler Festival, which began its annual journey in 1990 when Mil Penner and daughter Marci invited a handful of people out to their family farm near Inman, Kan., where a small group of towns and organizations had set up tents to showcase their attributes.
That first "handful" soon grew into thousands and after eight years of producing the Kansas Sampler Festival on their land, it was decided to make this successful event a traveling one. Since then, every two years brings a new location and even more attendees.
Those who make it to Liberal's Light Park May 5 and 6 can expect tent after tent showcasing many towns and tourism destinations all over Kansas.
To add to the festivities there will be entertainment stages, historical performers, artists at work, food booths, a petting zoo, blacksmith demonstrations--a "sampling" of reasons to travel the Sunflower State.
Editor's note: Susen Foster is the owner of Pecan Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Pauls Valley, Okla. She is the author of numerous travel books. Susen can be reached at www.greatersuccess.com or call 580-622-5408.