Wreaths Across America Honors Veterans’ Service & Sacrifice

For twelve years, the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney has participated in a special event called Wreaths Across America. This year we will continue this tradition on Saturday, December 16th when WaKeeney welcomes veterans and their families from across the state to join us in a ceremony of remembrance of all Kansas military veterans.


Wreaths Across America is an annual event modeled on the iconic wreath-laying ceremony held every year at Arlington National Cemetery. Dedicated to all the military men and women who have served our country, this event is a worldwide mission to “Remember, Honor and Teach” what it means to serve and to sacrifice for our great nation. Today Wreaths Across America ceremonies occur in over 1,200 additional locations and in all 50 U.S. states, at sea, and abroad.


The ceremony conducted at the WaKeeney Veterans’ Cemetery is a moving experience. It provides all the people in attendance a moment of reflection on the great achievements of our servicemen and women who have joined an all-volunteer army to fight to preserve the American values of freedom and justice for all.


We are honored again this holiday season to be able to recognize members of all five branches of the service—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard—as well as the Merchant Marines, and those soldiers who hold POW/MIA status. Local donations collected by the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney and the WaKeeney VFW go toward the purchasing of the wreaths from Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, the same supplier of the wreaths laid at Arlington National Cemetery.


A short service will be held during the ceremony, with Errol Wuertz of the Civil Air Corp. and Rev. Stanton presiding, followed by a 21-gun salute performed by the Hays VFW Honor Guard as attendees lay wreaths at the gravesite. The American Legion Riders and Knights of Columbus will lay wreaths for those service members whose families are unable to attend the event, so no veteran goes unrecognized.


Please join us at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney at 11am on Saturday, December 16th for the 12th Annual Wreaths Across America ceremony to remember all the brave men and women of our military.


The Holiday Season Lights Up WaKeeney’s Famous Christmas Tree

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The holiday season has arrived! If you’re as excited about the holidays as we are then we invite you to come to WaKeeney to celebrate with us on Saturday, November 25th, underneath the lights of our famous 35-foot Christmas tree.

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Deck the Halls (and WaKeeney’s Streets)

Our municipal crews have been busy decorating the “Christmas City of the High Plains” with three miles of electrical wiring, 1400 lbs. of greenery, 1100 yards of greenery roping, and 6000 lightbulbs. They’ve hung the handcrafted wood cutouts of wreaths, bows and bells with care, and at the 67th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony we’ll be flipping the switch on their hard work.

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Merry Activities for Everyone

WaKeeney’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is full of Christmas traditions. Take a ride down Main Street on a horse drawn wagon and enjoy a scrumptious bowl of soup at the VFW Hall at 4:30PM before joining us at 6PM for the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Keep an eye out for Santa Claus because he’ll be joining us, too! Follow him to North Pole Park where kids can share their Christmas list with him. We hear he might be bringing along treats.


Two New Ways to Experience the Holidays

This year, experience Santa’s annual adventure for yourself on “Santa’s Sleigh Ride,” a new virtual reality ride with motion added from VR In Motion. It will put you in the driver’s seat, flying down from the North Pole, through the night sky, to the middle of a Christmas village. The ride will be operating in Downtown WaKeeney from 5-9PM by JNT Company and brought to us courtesy of WaKeeney Travel & Tourism.

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Join in on the chorus of your favorite Christmas carols with the Fort Hays Singers. They will be strolling our Main Street from 5-6PM, dressed in Renaissance Madrigal costumes and performing classic carols. After the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony follow the Fort Hays Singers to the VFW Hall at 7PM for a concert of your favorite holiday tunes. There will be a free will donation to assist in funding their upcoming trip to Salzburg, Austria in 2018.

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Holiday Shopping and Dining

Our stores will be open on Saturday to help you get a head start on your Christmas shopping and the restaurants will be serving their best holiday dishes and drinks. Plan ahead for your own holiday dinner by selecting the perfect holiday decorations, then take a break with a milkshake at an old-fashioned soda fountain located in Downtown WaKeeney.

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Get in the Holiday Spirit in the “Christmas City of the High Plains”

Put on your jingle bells and polish up that holiday spirit on Saturday, November 25th, for the largest display of lights between Kansas City and Denver. There’s nowhere better in Northwest Kansas to welcome the arrival of everyone’s favorite holiday than in the “Christmas City of the High Plains” in WaKeeney, Kansas.

Get Ready for Pheasant Season in Trego County

The birds are on the run on Saturday, November 11th when Pheasant Season opens in Trego County and it looks like it will be a great year for hunters!

The Northwest Kansas pheasant population has fully recovered after a recent drought and hunters from across the globe are looking forward to getting their limit of the game bird this year. Our county provides some of the best hunting grounds and we have many businesses in and around WaKeeney that can assist you in gearing up for a successful hunting trip.


Hunting Lodges and Outfitters

Book your stay in a rural hunting lodge and be out in the field at dawn with a professional guide!

The Farm House is a comfortable country home specially designed for hunters. The owners will have you ready for a day out in the field with breakfast and evening meals available upon request, and on-site sheds are ready for your dogs to catch up on a peaceful night’s rest before going on the hunt in the morning.

A large number of acres provide an abundance of cover and habitat for game birds, as well as large game at Saline River Hunting Lodge & Guide Service. The lodge provides complete accommodations for up to six people with either full or continental breakfast included and satellite TV, corn-burning fireplaces, large family room, a bar with refrigerator and hunting theme decor available. The guide service is a member of the Kansas Sport Hunting Assn. and Kansas Guides and Outfitters Assn. at Saline River and they promise that “hunting is our game.” They are located off I-70 and Hwy. 283 south of WaKeeney.


Butterfield Trail Bunkhouse places you right in the middle of pheasant country near Cedar Bluff State Park. The rustic guesthouse can accommodate up to 4 people, with a fully stocked kitchen and a cleaning station to prepare your pheasants for their journey back to your home. Contact the owners to find out more about the prepared meals you can pre-order for your stay.


Hotels and Campgrounds

For hunters who want to spend the night in town, WaKeeney boasts five hotels that offer convenient, comfortable stays. The Best Western Plus WaKeeney Inn & Suites, Kansas Kountry Inn, Bryant Motel, Super 8, and EconoLodge are all located close to Downtown WaKeeney and WaKeeney KOA is a great option for those with campers.


When you need to refuel and you’re looking for a satisfying meal, take the shortest route to WaKeeney, Kansas, where you’ll enjoy a tasty dinner at any of our ten fine restaurants!

Jake & Chet’s Cafe/Sundowner Lounge

Jake and Chet’s Cafe and the Sundowner Lounge combine fresh ingredients and years of culinary experience to create their culinary masterpieces. They will serve you a delicious ribeye cooked to order, southern fried catfish, or an all-American burger, and then follow it up with a slice of pie a la mode. (233 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2211)

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The Brazen Bull

WaKeeney’s newest restaurant is the The Brazen Bull, a family owned restaurant with a bold take on America’s greatest plated meals. Satisfy your hunter’s instinct with delicious steaks, burgers, sandwiches and salads choices. (717 S 2nd St./ph. 785-743-2653)

Dairy Queen

Looking for a snack to cool you down? WaKeeney’s Dairy Queen can mix up your favorite soft serve treat in a jiffy. They also offers an entrée menu with salads, wraps, sandwiches, hot dogs and burgers. (521 Barclay Avenue/ph. 785-743-2160)

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Western Kansas Saloon & Grill

Experience the ambiance of a historic western saloon at the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill. Located in one of our county’s oldest buildings, their  menu includes steak, pasta, burgers, salads and sandwiches, and a fully stocked bar. (121 N Main St./785-743-2050)

Pizza Hut

The WaKeeney Pizza Hut offers pizza, pasta and tasty wings with a choice of sauces from their Wing Street menu. Pizza Hut delivers in the WaKeeney city limits, making it a great option if you want to stay in for the evening. (324 S 1st/ph. 785-743-2383 – Call ahead to find out when their buffet is open!)

Tropical Mexican Restaurant

The menu at Tropical Mexican Restaurant offers the great taste of authentic Mexican food right here in Trego County. Chicken or beef fajitas and burritos taste great with a Corona after a day out hunting. (428 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2219)

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Hometown Bakery

Wake up to Hometown Bakery! Their bakers craft everything from a scrumptious pies, cookies, and even celebratory cakes! Stop in on your way out to the hunt to pick up a donut and a cup of fresh brewed coffee. (215 N Main St. /ph. 785-743-6496)


America’s most iconic roadside restaurant is undoubtedly McDonald’s and at the WaKeeney McDonald’s drive thru window you can make a quick stop before you head out on your hunt. (745 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-2911)

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Mike’s Place

Kick back and relax after the hung with a cold beer at hotspot at Mike’s Place in Downtown WaKeeney. Mike’s offers a “pub grub” menu that  features regular daily specials of local favorites and all the great finger foods and burgers you’d expect in a bar. (111 N 6th St./ph. 785-743-2641)


Grab a sandwich to take on the hunt at WaKeeney’s Subway. Their sandwich specialists use freshly baked bread and fresh ingredients for their easy-to-eat, on-the-go satisfying meals. (718 S 1st St./ph. 785-743-5248)

Make Trego County your headquarters for tasty game bird on opening day of Pheasant Season on Saturday, November 11th!Get

Halloween Fun for Kids of All Ages in WaKeeney

It’s fright night in WaKeeney, where our local ghouls have planned two frighteningly fun celebrations for kids and adults this Halloween!

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For the Adults – Saturday, October 29th from 9 pm to 2 am

When the sky grows dark and the vampires are ready for a drink, head to the Sundowner Lounge for a glass of your favorite witch’s brew at their annual Halloween party.

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Howl with the wolves when the sun goes down and the creatures of the night come out to play. Proprietors of Jake and Chet/Sundowner Lounge will be handing out door prizes and cash prizes for the best costumes. Spooktacular drink and food specials will be waiting for you, along with games, candy and more fun. The Sundowner Lounge is located at 233 S. 1st St. in WaKeeney and the party is from 9 pm to 2 pm.


Trick or Treating for the Kids – Tuesday, October 31st:

Bring the pint-sized ghosts and goblins to Downtown WaKeeney for the Trego Recreation Commission’s annual Halloween Madness with a parade, games and candy galore!

From 4:30 to 5:15 pm the city merchants will be handing out candy to tiny trick or treaters at their businesses and other generous citizens will be handing them out from the back of their decorated vehicles. In Courthouse Square games of spooky sport will challenge mini witches and wizards, and all the other creatures of the night.


At 5:15pm line up at the south end of Main Street to become part of the Halloween parade that will be walking up the two blocks to the Water Tower at 5:30 pm.

A costume contest and free hot dog feed sponsored by the Trego Recreation Commission will follow.

Or, at 5:30 pm you can enjoy a free chili supper at the WaKeeney City Fire Station for trick or treaters and their parents. The WaKeeney City Fire Station is located at 122 S. 2nd and the supper is sponsored jointly by the Trego County Rural Fire Department and the WaKeeney City Fire Department.


This year, hop on your broom and fly on over to WaKeeney, Kansas for Halloween fun fit for everyone!


Experience Fall on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

The Northwest Kansas prairie is beautiful in the fall and there is no better way to enjoy the beauty of the changing season than by touring the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway of Trego County.

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The Smoky Valley Byway is a sixty-mile route over gently rolling hills that takes you past stunning natural settings and historic landmarks, like the Emanuel Lutheran Church on South Hwy. 147, which is made of locally quarried limestone.

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As is the Wilcox country schoolhouse on South Hwy. 283 that is currently under restoration.

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Cedar Bluff State Park is a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy outdoor activities. Fishing, boating, and hiking are all accessible at the park. Along with many great spots on the reservoir, Pa’s Fishing Pond is a stocked pond created for children and the disabled to enjoy. If exploration is more your style give the hiking trails a try. The Agave Ridge Trail will take you deep into the park where you are sure to spot many kinds of wildlife. The trail leading down into Threshing Machine Canyon will take you right to the spot where pioneers traveling across the prairie carved their names and dates into the limestone cliff face.

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When you’re back on the Byway keep your eye out for the limestone posts marking the old route of the Butterfield Overland Despatch. These posts were added in 1960 to mark the historic trail that adventurers followed on stagecoaches from Atchison, Kansas to Denver, Colorado in 1865. The limestone blends in with the surrounding grasses in the fall, but the easiest marker to locate is found on Hwy. 147 south of the turn to the state park office on west side of highway below Cedar Bluff’s dam.

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As you cruise on down the road you’ll notice the stark white limestone cliffs that reveal our prairie’s prehistoric life as the floor of a great inland seabed. Professional and amateur paleontologist regularly uncover fossils in the exposed cliffs, including animals dating as far back as the Cretaceous period.


Don’t forget to look for the many species of wildlife that fill our Great Plains as you’re driving. Trego County is known for its great deer and pheasant hunting. (Hunters—mark your calendar for the start of the 2017 Pheasant Season next month on November 11th.)


One of the most beautiful things to see on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway are the amazing sunrises and sunsets that paint our skies every day. Experience an unparalleled connection with nature and “share our sky of wonder” with us.

This fall plan a drive along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway and experience the history and natural beauty of Trego County.

Shiloh Vineyards Welcomes Wine Lovers To Their Fall Open House


The 2017 grape harvest at Shiloh Vineyard and Winery is complete and another great year of wine making has begun! Treva and Kirk Johnston are ready to celebrate with an open house they are hosting at the vineyard and everyone is invited!

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On Saturday, October 7th from 4 – 10pm, Shiloh Vineyard will be thanking all the volunteers who helped bring in the harvest in a record two days, as well as the vineyard’s many supporters and customers that have enjoyed their wines year-after-year. Come enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Johnston family farm and enjoy the peaceful surroundings of the Northwest Kansas prairie.


Weaver’s BBQ from Ransom will be serving his delicious treats from 5 – 7:30pm and the Hill City band Balance will be providing background music, jazz and bluegrass, from 6 -9pm. And, don’t forget the world-famous Kansas sunset, that will offer its own majestic show!

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There are outbuildings scattered around the property to explore and socialize in as you taste the fourteen varieties of wine produced at Shiloh Vineyards.

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Give them all a try in the tasting room that was hand-built by Kirk Johnston’s grandfather and the 100-year-old barn that is now used as an event space for weddings, family reunions and other gatherings.

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This year, as an extra bonus Shiloh Vineyard is offering a discount on their wines and giveaways throughout the evening of the open house.


Plan your Saturday evening, October 7th from 4 – 10pm in the peaceful surroundings of Trego County and Shiloh Vineyard and Winery!




History 101: Education in A Country School at the Trego County Historical Museum

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The school bells are ringing once more in Trego County!

Establishing an education system was one of the first goals of our county’s early settlers. Little one-room schoolhouses, with a teacher and all the materials needed to teach “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic,” were provided by citizens with the expectation that graduates of the schools would become leaders in the communities speckled across the county.

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The Trego County Historical Society offers a glimpse into those early school days at their Pleasant Valley Schoolhouse, an original country schoolhouse located on the grounds of the museum. It was moved to WaKeeney in May 1997 from its original location in the northwest part of the county.

Inside the school you’ll find desks, maps, and symbols marking it as an institution of free public education.  On a dais in front of the chalkboard a teacher would lead two rows of students sitting at wooden desks.

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Of course, education has changed a lot since the 1880s. One-room schools are a thing of the past and many of the academic tools found in the museum’s collection may not be recognizable to today’s students.

The education collection at the Trego County Historical Museum is home to a large archive of schoolbooks, teaching instruments and historical records from our local schools. They offer visitors a lesson in just how important providing quality education in a remote country setting was to early prairie settlers.

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The museum will occasionally host special lectures given by the last of the teachers and students to attend our county’s country schools, and you’ll often find teachers leading their students on visits to the museum to find out more about what life was like for yesterday’s young pupils. It’s a meaningful lesson and a fun trip back in time, too!

Welcome your students back to school with a trip to the Trego County Historical Museum, where they can experience the early days of the American education system on the High Plains of Trego County!

The Trego County Historical Society (785) 743-2964) is located at 128 North 13th Street, in WaKeeney (Exit 128 off-I-70, North 1 ½ miles on Hwy. 283).  Check their website for more information.