Residents, visitors flock to town to participate in city festival’s many events
Last year, it was the rain that kept the crowds away, but this year it could have been the heat, said Katie Ervin, Leavenworth.
Or maybe, according to Phyllis Lee, Lawrence, it was competition from other events on the same day, such as Wakarusa Festival near Lawrence and the Lansing DAZE festival.
And Charline Dumortier, Lee's Summit, Mo., said the fact that there were more booths this year meant the money was spread thinner.
Whatever the reason, the turnout for this year's Tonganoxie Days was less than desirable for many vendors. But for other folks, who came more for the entertainment, the day was considered a success.
In addition to shopping at the booths lining Fourth Street, those in attendance could take surrey and mini-train rides, check out cool vehicles at the Country Cruisers Car Show, participate in a 10K run or listen to music by That 70's Band.
Connie Torneden, Tonganoxie Days coordinator, said she thought people were happy with the entertainment the event showcased.
"I think it went pretty well, and we dodged the rain 'til just about the very end of it," she said. "That was the one thing people noticed and said, 'At least it's not raining.'"
A highlight of the day, Torneden said, was having Danni Boatwright, winner of the television reality show, "Survivor: Guatemala," signing autographs in front of First State Bank and Trust. Torneden also said Starstruck dance students who performed at Fourth and Green streets drew many spectators.
Showcasing local talent
With their needles and thimbles in hand, the women of the Sacred Heart quilters worked on a quilt during Saturday's Tonganoxie Days Quilt Show. The quilt will be auctioned in October at the annual Sacred Heart Bazaar.
This year's quilt show was held both Saturday and Sunday at the Tonganoxie Historical Site and showcased not only new quilts but also vintage quilts and fancy needlework items.
"People like to come to quilt shows because it reminds them of when they were young, when they would go to their grandma's house," said Frances Frick, member of the Sacred Heart Altar Society that sponsored the event. "It gives them a warm and fuzzy feeling."
Nancy Brown, Tonganoxie, entered eight quilts in this year's show. She began quilting when she was in second grade and has since taught all her grandchildren how to quilt.
Brown said quilting was a great way for her to connect with her grandchildren.
Lynn Paul, Tonganoxie, also had eight quilts on display this year. She said quilting was an antique art that more people should appreciate.
"I think a show like this is important because our community needs to see the talent we have," Paul said. "We have quilters, weavers, carvers, people who crochet, and their work is just as unique and well done as any singer would do."
Paul belongs to a quilting group called the Saturday Night Strippers. They meet in Kansas City and help one another with ideas and patterns. Paul said she has never met an unfriendly quilter and has made many close bonds through her involvement with the group.
However, quilting doesn't provide instant gratification. It takes patience and perseverance, but Paul said it was always worth it.
"You're not limited with what you can do," Paul said. "The sky's the limit. There's just a world of ideas."
During the quilt show, visitors were asked to vote for their favorites in four categories. The winners this year were Robert Knapp, needlework; Carel Johnson, vintage quilt; Evelyn Mosier, large quilt; and Barbra Kramer, small quilt. Each winner received a handmade award ribbon.
Miniature Horse Show
Running, jumping, tricks and costumes were all part of the show put on by the Kansas Miniature Horse Club at the Leavenworth County Fairgrounds Saturday.
A total of 24 miniature horses and their owners competed in a variety of categories.
"We just try to have a good time with our horses," said Theresa Gergick, Tonganoxie. "It's a really fun club."
For the past four years, Gergick has brought a group of 4-H'ers to Tonganoxie Days to compete. She said she liked the Tonganoxie Days show because it was family oriented.
As part of the 4-H project, Gergick said the more important point she taught was safety. She said even though the miniature horses were small, they could still cause injuries if not handled correctly.
Bambi Tanner, Leavenworth, 14, was part of the 4-H group competing at the show. She said she had always been interested in horses -- large and small.
"I've always loved horses. I just thought they were beautiful and intelligent creatures," she said.
Gergick said she particularly liked how smart miniature horses are. She said they learn tricks faster than larger horses. In fact, Gergick likes miniatures so much she now owns 30.
"Miniatures are like potato chips," she said. "You can't have just one."
Barbecue grills fired up
For the "Grillin' Gamblers" it's brisket, for "Squeal of Approval" it's pork, and for "Pig in a Poke" it's ribs. But no matter how opinions differ on the hardest kind of meat to cook, they all agree that the barbecue competition Saturday at Tonganoxie Days was all about having fun.
"It's a competition where they're still good sports," said Betsy Coleman, Lenexa resident and member of the "Squeal of Approval" group.
Coleman and the two other women in the group began competing four years ago. She said they get a lot of their barbecue information from watching and talking to fellow competitors.
"We like the camaraderie," she said.
But even with her good sportsmanship attitude, the best part about the competition was "winning" Coleman said with a laugh.
Allan Dunster, Effingham, came for the first time to Tonganoxie Days Saturday with his group "Smoke, Rattle and Roll." He said he was happy with the way the day was going at that point but said it all came down to what the judges want.
"Just when you think you know what you're doing, something changes," he said. "You have to be willing to try new things."
There were 32 teams entered in the competition. This year's grand champion was Terry Moore, Kansas City, with his group "T's Smoking Pit." The reserve champion was Rick Salmon, Olathe, from the "Smoking Salmon" group.
Art on display
For a fourth year, Suzzanne Nickle came to Tonganoxie Days and put her artwork on display.
Nickle began painting nine years ago after she was watching Bob Ross on television and thought, "Well if he can do it, I can do it." Ever since then she has taken several classes and been in many craft fairs.
Although portraits are her favorites to paint, she said there wasn't a high demand for them so she does a little bit of everything.
Halfway through the day Nickle was happy she'd already sold three paintings.
"I think it's beginning to develop an interest in Tonganoxie residents and fine arts," she said. "Before this, there wasn't any place for Tonganoxie people to go see fine art."
Bob Keuchel purchased a 1918 Model T roughly 50 years ago for just $75.
The Kansas City, Kan., man has been a car enthusiast ever since.
In turn, his wife, Nina, has become a bit of an enthusiast as well.
"My husband, he's had cars since he was 20," Nina explained, wearing her Golden Oldies Classic Club Chevy vest covered in lapel pins from various shows she and Bob have attended. "And, of course, I like them because he does."
On Saturday, the couple brought their 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air to the Country Cruisers Car Show at Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Park.
The sharp hot rod, a sparkling black car with predominately red interior, is Nina's favorite.
The couple has another classic car -- a 1950 Chevy.
That, consequently, is Bob's favorite.
Therefore, the Kuechels have a system.
For one car show, the couple features the 1957 model. At the next show, the 1950 Chevy is taken for a spin.
The 1957 Bel Air placed second in the 1955-1960 antique car division.
Overall, a total of 138 cars, trucks and race cars were on display at Tonganoxie's shady VFW Park.
Organizer Fran Marquardt said it ranked as one of the group's larger shows -- the organization's best turnout included 189 vehicles.
Bob and Nina have been as far away as Steamboat Springs, Colo., but they said the Tonganoxie show was one of their favorites.
"It's a good show,"Bob said.
"We like it because there's a lot of shade," Nina said.