Author shares colorful tales of Kansas towns and their attractions at packed Tonganoxie event
If you go exploring in Kansas, you’ll find a town of fewer than 200 people hosting an outhouse tour every year on the Friday and Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Kansas Sampler Foundation’s Marci Penner told of the unique town during a slide presentation about her journeys in creating the “Kansas Guidebook 2: For Explorers.”
WenDee Rowe and Penner co-authored the book, as they visited all 626 incorporated communities in Kansas. They write about some 515 of the communities in the book.
Penner spoke to a packed space Nov. 28 at the Tonganoxie Community Historic Site’s Knox-Fairchild Barn.
The Tonganoxie Community Historical Society, Tonganoxie Business Association and Southern Leavenworth County Leadership Development sponsored Penner’s program, which about 50 people attended.
She talked about the importance of exploring Kansas and realizing that there are stories, history, architecture, food and people who make the state special.
For instance, people decorate the outhouses in Elk Falls and visitors vote for their favorites.
One that Penner showed during her slide was one that also resembled a green phone booth. At the base of the toilet — a fish tank.
Folks also are welcome to purchase gravel at the event and then use their purchased rock to fill in potholes throughout the community. Elk Falls has gravel roads.
Penner said that some towns they visited told them they didn’t really have anything of note for the book and that they should head on to the next town that is known for this or that.
But as an explorer, folks can find interesting aspects that others hadn’t considered.
Penner also spoke to a group in Lansing and was on a KSHB morning show in Kansas City last week.
During her KSHB interview, she spoke about the many things to do and see that are “right under our noses.”
Penner mentioned Kansas’ lone Kentucky Derby winner being buried in Prairie Village. It once was a farm, but now a cul de sac in a residential area of Prairie Village. She also talked about the quirky rock in the middle of Granite Street in McLouth.
As she talked about the book, photos from her presentation were shown on television, including the book mural in Tonganoxie’s downtown pocket park.
Penner’s presentation at TCHS had notable places from across the state. It also was heavy on local attractions, such as McLouth’s rock and Tonganoxie’s murals, a walking bridge near Chieftain Park and It’s a Sweet Treat Bakery.
“Marci always brings energy and inspiration when she talks about Kansas communities,” said Shawn Linenberger, board chair for Southern Leavenworth County Leadership Development. “We hope the program can inspire folks in Tonganoxie and other Leavenworth County communities, to promote their towns and find those niches.
“It might not be a ball of twine like Cawker City, but the possibilities are out there.”
Penner’s book is available for purchase at the historic site and a handful of Tonganoxie businesses.