Join in for Tonganoxie’s big birthday bash
Visitors should take in all that sesquicentennial offers
Welcome to 150 years of Tonganoxie! If you’re in town for the big festival celebrating the Tonganoxie Sesquicentennial — the city’s 150th anniversary — you’ll notice our community knows how to throw a party.
Children’s activities, impressive youth rides, food, vendors, some 30 entertainers, Yogi Bear, Big Jay, Willie the Wildcat and a great setting to catch live music at Gallagher Park round out the lineup.
It’s hoped that the sesquicentennial will serve as a homecoming, class reunion, family reunion and open house all rolled into one.
For those who live here, it’s a celebration of the place we call home. For visitors coming back, it’s a time to reunite and reminisce about a place you likely hold dear to your heart.
And to the folks who saw our lip dub video, social media, banners and other marketing efforts and, it’s hoped, have decided a day trip to Tonganoxie is now on your agenda, it’s a chance to check out a new community.
Whatever your reason for being here, may you have a blast.
A slew of entertainment boasts both regional and local talent, but the event also celebrates where we’ve been and where we’re going.
The Ratliff Drug Store at Fourth and Bury streets will be the site for the Tonganoxie Community Historical Society’s exhibits. The organization has just released a DVD set about Tonganoxie’s history, which will be playing at the drug store and also will be available for purchase.
Stroll down to the pocket park at Fourth and Delaware and watch First City’s Performers and StoryTellers portray various Tonganoxie residents of yesteryear.
Next door, the medical office of the late Dr. Phil Stevens will be open for tours.
Baby pictures of all the infants Stevens delivered in Tonganoxie adorn the patients room walls of the iconic Norman Rockwell-esque office. Those whose baby pictures are on the walls are encouraged to stop by for selfies with the baby photos.
Stevens, also known as Tonganoxie Phil as a local answer to Punxsutawney Phil, loved to give weather prognostications each year to local media. Last year, Stevens celebrated his 60th year practicing family medicine. That night, he died in his sleep.
Stevens continued what has become a dedication to medicine in the community. Dr. Walter Coe practiced medicine for 54 years, from 1896-1950. Stevens practiced for 60 years, from 1955-2015.
Once your tour of the Stevens building is complete, head down the block to Flashbacks restaurant, which also serves as an ever-changing museum.
Walls are plastered with framed photos, articles and memorabilia of all things Tonganoxie and the area. Grab a sandwich and check out the many pieces of history hanging from the restaurant’s walls.
When you’ve finished up taking in all the sesquicentennial has to offer, remember that Tonganoxie continues to buzz throughout the year.
Plenty of opportunities exist: Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at The Jewel on Main in January, St. Patrick’s Parade in March, Leavenworth County Fair and Parade in July, homecoming and the education foundation’s hall of fame ceremony in September, Spooktacular in October, Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting in November and the Madrigal Feaste in December.
There also are shows at The Jewel on Main year-round and Tonganoxie Recreation Commission activities for families.
And on a picture-perfect day, be sure to take advantage of the city’s Chieftain Trail, which makes it one of Kansas’ most walkable cities.
Tonganoxie is loved for its proximity to Lawrence, Topeka and Kansas City, but you’ll find it’s not just a convenient spot to get you on your way to somewhere else.