New at the 2017 Kansas State Fair

The state fair is in full swing, and this over 100-year-old celebration has some new things. Here are our recommendations.

Pronto Pup t-shirts

Don’t you dare call it a corn dog! The pronto pup is a fair classic and there are at least three spots around the fairgrounds to get one, but only next to the Lair White House and the arena can you get a shirt proclaiming your love of this fair food. $21 a shirt with kids and adult sizes and a few different colors.

Flippin‘ – Acrobat and aerialist show

Where last year ther was a dog show, this year there is an acrobat show. With family members starring, there is a combination of trapeze style work and impressive balance acts with a steampunk theme.

There are no nets or padded mats below the performers and it’s a great great show! Show up 20 minutes or so ahead of time to get a seat.

Free. Shows at Gottschalk Park at 11am, 1:30pm, 6:30pm

Food

There are a handful of new dishes serve up around the fairgrounds. We tried the ‘roni dog’ – a hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese and bacon bits from Carousel Cafe.

One of the best things about the dish is that it’s the right size for one person. If you have a hankering for turkey leg, for example, you had better have some people to share it with since they’re so big. But the roni dog is just right.

Lair White House

Each year there is a different display at the little fair museum, and this year it’s on the special food contests from Pillsbury Pie competitions to the (in)famous SPAM contest.

To toot our own horn a bit, a lot of the SPAM items on display come from the Kansas Trail Guide family.

Free.

Escape Room

For $25, you and up to 7 friends, you get half an hour to get out of a specially designed ‘escape room.’ With hidden clues and the promise of ice cream if you figure it out in the time limit, it’s a fun challenge.

Kids 10 and under free. In front of the Encampment Building. Open 9am to 9pm.

Run the first ever Fleet Feet XC 5k on 7/29

The Applejack Pumpkin Patch in Butler County will be the site of the first ever Fleet Feet Sports XC Classic.

There are three different race options along a fun course and family-friendly activities and music after the races.

Where: Applejack Pumpkin Patch, 10007 SW Indianola Rd, Augusta, KS 67010

Race options: 1.5mile Elementary and Middle School Race (7:30am). 5K High School Race (8am). 5K Open Race (9am).

Cost: $20 registration. Register here.

 

Celebrate Earth Day in Kansas

Earth Day is on April 22, and while we think everyone should care about the earth everyday, it’s special to get together to support the planet. Here are a few places across Kansas where you can celebrate Earth Day from family-friendly activities to recycling.

HutchinsonDillon Nature Center

Tall Tales and Terrific Trees – April 23 from 1 to 2pm – Families with children ages 3-10 years old: Join us and Amy Johnson from the Hutchinson Public library as she reads tree-rific tree tales on the hills in the Playscape. Then children will make a leaf craft and families can explore the trails in search of trees and seeds. Free!

Lawrence – South Park

The 17th Annual Earth Day Parade & Celebration on Saturday, April 22. Parade at 11am and Celebration in South Park from 11:30am to 4pm with exhibits, food, and kid’s activities.

Manhattan Sunset Zoo

Party for the Planet on Saturday, April 22 from noon to 4:30pm. $5 for adults, $3 children (2 and under free). Family friendly games and events including a zoo-wide scavenger hunt with prizes.

Overland Park InterUrban Art House

Clothing & Textile Recycling Event on Saturday, April 22 from 9am to 2pm, you can drop off clothing and textiles to be reused or repurposed. If it’s fabric, you can bring it here and it will be donated and kept out of the landfill.

Pittsburg – Southeast Kansas Recycling Center

Free paper shredding on April 22. Get 25 pounds of documents shredded for free. They also take plastic bags, glass, plastic, e-waste, metal, and more.

Quivira National Wildlife Refuge – Visitor’s Center

On Saturday, April 22 from 9am to 1pm, there will be guided nature walks, presentations on pollinators, tours of the butterfly garden, and a lunch provided by Friends of Quivira. Free!

 

Where to see bald eagles in Kansas

Where to see bald eagles in Kansas

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Bald eagle pair in Kansas. Photo by Bo Rader.

The return of the bald eagle has been a remarkable success story.  After being pushed towards extinction, the eagle steadily recovered under the protection of the Endangered Species Act.  In Kansas, nesting eagles made a return to the state in 1989 at Clinton Reservoir and have been increasing in numbers ever since.

As the winter cold sets in, eagles push south in search of open water.  In Kansas, mid-January is typically the ideal time to search for eagles along secluded coves of major reservoirs in the eastern half of the state.

For a good hike with a chance to see bald eagles, we recommend the Eagle Ridge Trail at Milford State Park or the Chaplin Nature Center trails by the Arkansas River.  Throughout the month of January there are events throughout the state that celebrate the recovery of this iconic species. Each of the following events offer educational programs and guided viewing tours for the public.

January 7th: The first opportunity for guided eagle viewing is at Tuttle Creek Reservoir with a program and vehicle tour starting at the Manhattan Fire Station (Kimball & Denison Ave) from 9:00 – 12:30.

January 14th: Eagle Days at Milford Lake. The nature center at Milford Lake hosts an annual eagle day event that includes programs and guided bus tours running from 9:00 – 2:00 to view eagles along the lake. Admission to the state park is free for the event and there’s also hot chocolate and popcorn for all!

January 21st: Kaw Valley Eagles day celebrates the natural history and recovery of the bald eagle in Kansas with a family-friendly event at Free State High School in Lawrence. There will be presentations, activities for the kids and viewing expeditions.

January 28th & February 4th: Chaplin Nature Center will offer a short educational program and guided hike along the nature center trails to view eagles.  Meet at the visitors center at 10:00 to join the fun.

Celebrate 2017 with a First Day Hike

America’s State Parks is sponsoring guided New Year’s Day hikes around the country. And there are quite a few in Kansas. For more information, you can go here, and below we’ve included the when and where for the trails in Kansas.screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-9-52-10-am

Most look to be fairly easy to moderate and around 1-2 miles. For most, it looks like you can just show up. We’ll make a note if reservations are needed.  Many are also on leash pet friendly. And some include hot chocolate and snacks!

Cedar Bluff State Park at 9:00am – Agave Trail. Meet at trailhead.

Clinton State Park at 1:00pm – North Shores Trail. Meet at the Swim Beach Parking Lot.

Crawford State Park at 11:00am – Multiple trails. Meet at the Beach Shelter. Register at 620-362-3671.

Cross Timbers State Park at 2:00pm – Ancient Tree Trail. Meet at the trailhead in Toronto Point. **Hot chocolate provided!**

Eisenhower State Park at 10:00am – Archery/Bike Trail & Scooter Trail. Archery – meet at the Five Star Trailhead. Scooter Trail meet at West Point. **Hot chocolate and coffee provided following the hike**

El Dorado State Park at 1:00pm – Walnut Ridge Trail. Meet at the Walnut River Cabins.

Fall River State Park at 2:00pm – Post Oak Trail. Meet at the trailhead in Quarry Bay.

Hillsdale State Park at 10:30am – Hidden Springs Nature Trail. Meet at State Park Office. **Hot chocolate and cider provided after the hike**

Kanopolis State Park at 9:00am – Buffalo Track Canyon Nature Trail. Meet at State Park Office.

Meade State Park at 2:00pm – West Trail. Meet at trailhead.

Perry State Park at 9am – Skyline/Mad Mile/Daisy Point. Meet at trailhead.

Pomona State Park at 12:30pm – Multiple trails. Meet at State Park Office.

Prairie Dog State Park at 9:00am – Steve Mathes North Trail. Meet at trailhead.

Prairie Spirit Trail at 2:00pm – Meet at Garnett Depot Trailhead.

Sand Hills State Park at 10:00am – Dune Trail/Prairie Trail. Meet at the State Park Office.

Tuttle Creek State Park at 4:00pm – Western Heritage Trail. Meet at the State Park Office. **Hot chocolate and snacks provided!**

Wilson State Park at 1:30pm – Cedar Trail. Meet at the trailhead.

Superheroes New Year’s Eve at Flint Hills Discovery Center

One of our favorite places in Kansas is the Flint Hills, and one of our favorite places that celebrates the Flint Hills is the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan.

And they’re throwing a Superheroes themed, family New Year’s Eve party. From 6:30-9:30pm, you and your family can enjoy “dancing, music, superhero mask and cape crafts, superpower food, a costume contest and much more!” And at 9pm, there will be a balloon drop! And who doesn’t love a good balloon drop?

Register here by December 29.

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Run or bike the first ever Bridge to Bridge event 9/17/16

The first ever Tour de Trails 5k will be this Saturday — 9/17/16. Hosted by the Central Kansas Conservancy, the race will be held start north of the railroad bridge on the Valkommen trail in Lindsborg and then moves onto the Meadowlark Trail.

The Meadowlark Trail, on the former Union Pacific railroad corridor, stretches 13 miles from McPherson to Lindsborg, though you won’t have to go the full length for this race.

There’s a 5k for runners as well as a 5k for cyclists. Here’s the schedule:

9:00 – 9:45 – Registration/Packet Pick up

10:00 – Bike Event Starts

10:10 – Runners/Walkers Event Starts

11:00-12:00 – Finish Line Festivities Enjoy Refreshments and Give-a-Ways!

Registration is $15 and you can sign up here.