City turns out to celebrate at festival
Another Tonganoxie Days celebration dawned early.
East of Tonganoxie, where Evans Road intersects with County Road 25, runners in the library's annual 10K run jogged over the hill to the east toward the morning sun.
By the time they headed back on the homeward stretch, the sun was warm on their sweat-soaked backs. The runners' ever-moving shadows led the way. Except for the rustle of grass, the song of the meadowlark and of course the pounding of feet on asphalt, all was quiet.
Runners smiled, waved or said hello to Chuck Magaha Sr., a volunteer directing traffic at the rural intersection. One runner breathlessly thanked him for helping out.
A car turned onto Evans, heading west toward town. Magaha admonished the driver, gesturing with his two-way radio in hand as his booming voice commanded: "Slow down, there are runners ahead."
It was a voice that cracked the morning's stillness.
As he spoke, Al Pursell, the oldest runner in the 10K, made his way eastward on Evans. Pursell, who is 75, would finish the 10 K in an hour and 24 minutes. Pursell lives in Leavenworth. This was his first year to participate in the Tonganoxie library's run.
"I ran Hospital Hill last Saturday, that's 7.7 miles," Pursell said later. "So I figured I was ready for the 10K."
Because he would be the last runner to cross the finish line, during the last miles of his run Pursell was treated to a police escort.
Meanwhile, in downtown Tonganoxie, vendors set up their stalls and throughout the city there was evidence of teeming activity -- all signs that the 19th annual Tonganoxie Days celebration had begun.
Country Cruisers car show
If a 2004 Studebaker existed, George O'Brien probably would trade in his Mercury car -- and maybe even his Dodge truck.
Studebaker went out of business in the early 1960s, but it's still O'Brien's vehicle of choice.
"If they still made them, I'd still be driving them," O'Brien said.
At Saturday's County Cruisers Car Show in VFW Park, O'Brien's 1955 Studebaker Champion coupe was the only one of its kind on display next to the many other roadsters, Chevys to Fords and almost everything in between.
"Gotta make the Studebakers show up," O'Brien said.
O'Brien and his wife, Louise, have owned the car for about four years.
He previously owned a fleet of Studebakers on his rural Lawrence property he planned to turn into street rods. But Douglas County wouldn't allow for the collection of vehicles and so he got rid of his favorite cars.
Louise, however, searched for just one and found it in the Kansas City area.
And it has special meaning. George, whose first car was a Studebaker, drove another when he and Louise got married -- it also was a 1955 Studebaker.
"I guess you can say the '55 is in the bottom of your heart," he said.
George and Louise have had plenty of work done on their current hot rod.
A new paint job and upholstery are just a couple renovations. It also has dice on the lock buttons inside the car doors and stuffed red bulldog dolls in the back window.
Near the license plate is another plate promoting the Navy Seabees, a division of the military branch O'Brien served in until retirement in 1999. "Outkasts" also is on the plate, representing the now defunct car club from Lawrence.
This is the second year O'Brien has brought the vehicle to Tonganoxie, but he's no stranger to the town -- he is a 1959 Tonganoxie High graduate.
O'Brien also has taken the vintage car to Texas, Enid, Okla., Tulsa, Okla., Branson, Mo., and Lawrence.
"You don't see too many of them around," O'Brien said.
Studebaker actually still exists through Avanti, a Georgia-based auto company. Studebaker released the Avanti before it went out of business in the '60s, but O'Brien said it's hard to own the high-class model.
"You can buy one of those if you've got the money," O'Brien said.
The classic Studebaker at Saturday's car show was well-polished for car enthusiasts to see, but O'Brien has other renovations planned, most notably taking the current V6 out to install a full-of-muscle V8.
"We still have a lot of work to do," O'Brien said.
Car show organizer Chip Marquardt said 83 owners registered their cars Saturday. Last year, more than 200 vehicles were at VFW Park.
"It's just the weather," Marquardt said. "People just don't want their $50,000 to $60,000 cars out there."
The show also might have had competition from Lansing's annual festival and a Chrysler/American Motor Company exhibit at CommunityAmerica Ballpark near Kansas Speedway.
Marquardt said previous shows included more than 20 trophies and several door prizes. This year, only six trophies and awards were given and just a handful of door prizes were drawn.
"It was supposed to be a kick-back-and-do-nothing year
for us," Marquardt said. "Next year it might be different."
The small club opted for a less intense show for a change. Considering the weather, that might have been a wise decision.
The only drawback, however, was that the Country Cruisers didn't generate as much money. Much of the proceeds go to high school scholarships for Tonganoxie seniors each May.
The VFW Ladies Auxiliary provided a concession stand and a bike show also was on display Saturday at VFW Park.
Performing downtown and at the VFW Park were the Cowtown Cloggers from Grandview, Mo. Omar Holderby, who directs the group, said the group didn't start out as cloggers.
"We started with square dancing and then someone knew clogging and we put a group together," Holderby said.
The Cowtown Cloggers just returned from the Centennial World's Fair in St. Louis. The cloggers say they learn their dances through the Internet and from clogging workshops they attend every year. Holderby said anyone can join the Cowtown Cloggers after taking lessons from members of the group.
Overall, the Cowtown Cloggers have been dancing for five years and have a group of 12 members. But only half of the members made it to the Tonganoxie Days Festival, their fifth year to participate in the event. "We like to have fun and we are fun," Holderby said.
VFW Park Ceremony
Patriotism was the theme expressed by the Tonganoxie American Legion Post 41 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the VFW Park Flag Day Ceremony on Saturday.
Don McCall, a member of the Tonganoxie American Legion Post 41, said this was the second year there has been a ceremony honoring patriotism at Tonganoxie Days.
"The ceremony is a message of patriotism and work from veterans and service people. We want people to feel pride," McCall said.
The ceremony this year was to honor and commemorate Flag Day.
"The flag and the gun shots symbolize a tradition," McCall said. "Flag Day is a very patriotic day and it should be a celebration of patriotism."
Vendors and Boxcar Willie
Rachel Hollingsworth of Atchison was one of the many vendors who set up downtown to celebrate Tonganoxie Days. Hollingsworth specializes in making floor rugs out of rags. She makes them from recycled materials and sells them out of her home. She can make rugs from old bed sheets, jeans, rags, and almost anything else you would want a rug made from.
"All of my materials are recycled," Hollingsworth said. "I don't buy any of my materials I just gather them. I can make the rugs out of anything the customer wants."
Hollingsworth has been making rugs for about four years and mostly works out of her home.
"I use a floor loom that was made in the 40's and was given to me by a woman who didn't want it anymore so I use it to make rugs out of rags," Hollingsworth said. "They make great gifts for weddings, showers, or anything else you can think of."
Hollingsworth wasn't the only person with an interesting booth downtown. There were booths that sold jewelry, pillows, plates, figurines, hair accessories, yard ornaments, quilts, purses and more. There was even a booth to sign up for Yahoo DSL. Other interesting booths were the Tonganoxie Jerky booth, Henna Art, Candy Sand Art, Pampered Chef, and the face and body painting booth. Downtown was buzzing with people and interesting things for everyone.
Chad Gratton set up his booth with homemade Kansas Kettle Corn. Gratton has been making his own kettle corn for about 10 years and was visiting Tonganoxie Days for his ninth year. Gratton says his business started out as a part-time job but now it's just a hobby.
"I travel around Nebraska and Kansas and I mostly go to craft shows," Gratton said.
He says he likes coming to these kind of events because of the people he meets.
"I enjoy talking to different people and meeting interesting people," Gratton said.
Gratton said every batch takes about four to six minutes to make and if he is in a hurry he can make one less than four minutes.
Besides the vendors downtown there also was a little something special for the kids.
Willie and Connie Misemer drove Boxcar Willie and the W.C. Kiddie Lines, a little train on wheels that will carry about 20 passengers.
The Misemers named the train after a well known friend.
"Boxcar Willie was a singer in Branson and a very close friend of ours, after he died we decided to name the train after him," Connie Misemer said.
The Misemers live in Mount Vernon, Mo., and they take their Boxcar Willie all over the midwest from Kansas to Arkansas and Oklahoma. They have been driving W. C. Kiddie Lines for about eight to nine years and have attended Tonganoxie Days for five years. They also do private parties for people and corporations.
The Misemers start their tour in May and travel with "Boxcar Willie through October. Although many kids of all ages ride the train, almost 60 percent of the passengers are adults.
"I really enjoy seeing the kids' faces light up," Connie Misemer said.
On Saturday at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds grills were fired up for the Leavenworth County State Championship Barbecue Cook-off. The competitors prepared chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and beef brisket, adding their secret ingredients to try and win the judges over.
John Nilges traveled all the way from Dakota Dunes, South Dakota to compete.
"This is my second year competing. It's a lot of work but it's fun," Nilges said.
Nilges competes all over the country and is planning on going to 15 competitions this summer.
"It's fun and it is a lot of work but, I do it on my own and anyone can barbecue," Nilges said. "If you use fresh products and you use good products you can't really mess it up. I love it."
Another group that was competing was T's Smoking Pit from the Kansas City area. This group consisted of four members, Terry and Virginia Moore and Ernie and Brenda Gaede. This group has been competing for 10 years and has won several competitions for their barbecue. They spend all summer competing all over the United States.
"A friend started it and we wanted to try it and we've been barbecuing ever since," Virginia Moore said.
This group has competed at contest all over the country, including the Jack Daniels competition in Tennessee.
"We've beaten the best and we've been beaten by the worst," Ernie Gaede said.
The group agreed that it is all about having fun and cooking some good barbecue.
At the quilt show
More than 40 quilts and several pieces of needlework were on display Saturday at the Sacred Heart Altar Society's annual quilt show in Tonganoxie Elementary School.
A part of the Tonganoxie Days festival, the quilt show displayed works from area residents. The show featured several quilt styles, including scrap, fan, novelty, themed, embroidered, handkerchief and classic patterns. The oldest was a flannel-backed, hand-embroidered wool with a fan pattern in dark colors.
There were several quilts either from the 1930s or those made with vintage fabrics. The newest quilt commemorated the Lewis and Clark Expedition anniversary. It included an eight-pointed star with a white buffalo filling the center. It may be shown at the Leavenworth Library during July.
Needlework also was on display as residents brought 26 pieces of fancy needlework. Crochet, Swedish embroidery, cross stitch, woven cloth, velvet cloak, quilted pillows, needlepoint and a slat bonnet. Two hand-woven baskets also were shown.
The youngest participant was 10-year-old Mary Pantle of Easton displaying the second quilt she made. It was a doll size of Sunbonnet Sue using a crayon technique. She hand-sewed all of it last year. It was machine-quilted by her teacher and grandmother, Carolyn Pantle of Basehor.
Visitors were invited to add a stitch to the current quilt Sacred Heart Quilters are constructing. The "Scrappy Nine-Patch" in medium and dark colors with black sashing will be auctioned this fall at the annual church bazaar.
Viewer's choice hand-sewn ribbons were awarded in two categories: favorite quilt and favorite fancy needlework. Janet Stuke, Betty Bremenkamp and Frances Frick of the Sacred Heart parish made the ribbons with the assistance of Anna Mary Landauer, Basehor.
Other helping hands belonged to Mary Ann Kelly, Carolyn Pantle, Carol Hubbel, Paula Gish and Jim Frick. Lori and Rod Kukuk and Frick, all of McLouth, donated PVC pipe frames to hang the quilts.
The favorite quilt award was given to Evelyn Mosier, McLouth, for her "Bears in the Woods" quilt. It was queen-sized and machine-pieced with a log cabin star with appliqued bears. Robie Ready of Leavenworth machine-quilted the quilt.
Pantle, who is from Basehor, was runner-up for her queen-sized "Autumn Splendor" using regular blocks, paper piecing, Applique and embroidery. It was machine-quilted by Jenell Noeth, Basehor.
The favorite fancy needlework award was given to Gish for her framed cross-stitch work entitled "Example Sampler." Runner-up was Annie Cadet of Tonganoxie for her "Wandering Vine" woven coverlet of cotton and wool.
The altar society received freewill donations totaling $65.41, which will contribute to the new Sacred Heart Parish Center building fund.
-- Lisa Scheller, Shawn Linenberger and Sheila Partridge compiled this report on Tonganoxie Days.