Trego Historical Society Museum Celebrates Our Ancestors with Two Unique Exhibits

Honoring the perseverance, resilience, and sacrifice of our ancestors is an American tradition on Memorial Day. To shed light on these inspiring stories, the Trego County Historical Society Museum is currently hosting two exhibits that takes a look at life in a rural community and recreating a monument to Trego County men and women who have service our nation. 

Crossroads: Change in Rural America

The Trego County Historical Society Museum has joined with five other Northwest Kansas museums to host a special Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibit, called Crossroads: Change in Rural America

Our installation coordinates with the main Smithsonian exhibit that is on display at the Gloria Nelson Cultural Arts Center in Norton, Kansas from May 1stto June 13th. As part of the larger five-part, regional exhibit, WaKeeney’s installation, along with Hoxie, Oberlin, Colby, and Goodland, explores the future and sustainability of small towns through the local events that have affected our Northwest Kansas communities. Local exhibitions, public programs, online resources, and the Smithsonian exhibition is meant to inspire thought-provoking questions as we consider the future of America’s rural communities. 

During your visit to WaKeeney’s museum, don’t forget to pick up an exhibit passport to collect stamps while visiting the other participating museums. Once you’ve filled your passport, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a prize awarded by the participating sites. 

The Veterans Honor Roll

The Trego County Museum has recently been busy recreating a military monument that once stood in Downtown WaKeeney’s Courthouse Park on the corner of Russell and Main.

The original Trego County Honor Roll was built in 1944 by the WaKeeney Lions Club to honor the men and women who served in World War II.  The memorial included over 600 names of those that served during the war. In the late 1960’s, the Honor Roll was replaced with a new memorial under the direction of the WaKeeney Jaycees.  This memorial still stands in the courthouse square.  

The 16’ x 10’ replica is constructed of wood, with a marble stucco design that resembles the original honor roll from the 1940’s.  The new Honor Roll will include the names of those that served from Trego County, starting with WWI to the present day.  

Accompanying the monument is a Roll Call book with each service member’s name, years served, and their military branch. The exhibit will be a permanent addition to the military collection at the museum and curators are currently gathering names to add to the board. Some records are unavailable, so if you would like to add the name of your loved one, please, contact the museum to find out how.

The Trego County Historical Society Museum is open Tuesday – Friday 10am to noon and 1pm to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday by appointment. In May, the museum is open on Sundays from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be open on Memorial Day from 11am to 3pm.   

70 Years of Celebrating Christmas in WaKeeney

The 70thanniversary of the first tree lighting ceremony in the “Christmas City of the High Plains” is only days away as we ‘round the corner to the holiday season. Our festival planners have been busy planning an extravaganza of fun and festive activities on Saturday, November 28thto kick off the season and celebrate seven decades of holiday spirit in WaKeeney.

Holiday Shopping

Get your Christmas shopping lists ready for the Annual Christmas Bazaar hosted by the Trego County Home Based Businesses. Vendors from across Western Kansas will be displaying their products for shoppers to find the perfect gifts for their family and friends. From personal care items, to Christmas ornaments you will treasure for years; you’ll find something special at the Christmas Bazaar held at the Trego County Fairgrounds from 9 AM – 4 PM.

Christmases of Years Past

Visit the Trego County Historical Society Museum for a trip back in time through the “Timeless Holiday Tradition” display. It explores the holiday traditions held dear by the people of our community and shares the story of how WaKeeney became “The Christmas City of the High Plains.” Included in the exhibition is a scaled down model of our Christmas tree and life-sized replicas of the bells, wreaths, and stars still used in the Main Street display to this day. The museum is open from 10 AM – 4 PM.

Christmas Comes Alive

Bring the kids to the WaKeeney Public Library for a live puppet show of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.” It is a story of redemption for our favorite Christmas “humbug” Ebenezer Scrooge who learns the true meaning of Christmas with the help of the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. The performance begins at 2 PM. 

Christmas Traditions in Downtown WaKeeney

Join us on Main Street and take a ride on the Nex-Tech Express Train or a horse drawn wagon. See our famous Christmas lights from the unique perspective of an old-time ride down Main Street. Tickets are FREE for the train and wagon rides, as well as a visit later with Santa. They are available for pick up at the WaKeeney Public Library beginning at 3 PM and everyone is encouraged to grab one to reduce the chance of long lines. The rides will run between 4 PM and 8 PM. 

A Visit from Santa’s Reindeer

Christmas wouldn’t be possible without the hard work of Santa’s team of reindeer. Stop by their holiday trailer parked on Main Street to wish them well on their long trek around the world on Christmas Eve. There will be four live reindeer to view, which runs from 4 – 8 PM.

A Communal Meal to Warm the Christmas Spirit

Plan to stop at the VFW Hall for a bowl of hot soup and a delicious dessert. This is an annual event that warms the heart, as well as the spirit. The selection of soups and desserts are homemade by the local chefs of the VFW Auxiliary and will be served at 4:30 PM. You can choose to eat there or take a meal to go. Bring your appetites!

Hometown Christmas Hospitality

Get a jump on your holiday shopping by visiting Downtown WaKeeney businesses. Many of them offer special sales during the event, as well as sweets to enjoy and fun activities for the kids. Businesses participating in Santa’s Downtown Workshop will be open from 5 – 8 PM. 

Be sure to stop by the recently updated North Pole Park to see the photo mural that was recently added to the north wall. The image was captured by Sarah Hille of Free Range Photography and recently installed by Commercial Sign Company. Gather your family together to take photos behind the fun elves and snowmen cut outs—a perfect photographic souvenir of your time in WaKeeney! 

And, don’t forget to stock up on WaKeeney Christmas City note cards to send to all your friends this holiday season. The image is a reproduction of an original oil painting by local artist Laurie Albin. Two styles are available for $10 per package of five and all proceeds go to the North Pole Project. They are available at Gibson’s Health Mart, Solution North Bank, First Federal Bank, Peoples State Bank, The Studio 128, and Trego County Historical Museum.

70 Years of Christmas Joy Under WaKeeney’s Famous Tree

Come celebrate the 70thAnniversary of the “Christmas City of the High Plains”when we turn on the lights to our famous 35-foot Christmas tree!The TCHS band will be playingour favorite holiday songs under the direction of Randy Saueraswe wait for Santa’s arrival. The Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony begins at 6 PM and Santa will make his way down Main Street to light the tree and its heavenly blue canopy at approximately 6:15 PM. 

Santa’s Arrival in the “Christmas City of the High Plains”

Bring your kids to the North Pole Park to show Santa his new “home” in WaKeeney. Our volunteer team of elves have been working hard to get it ready for Santa so he can sit in comfort as he receives our children’s Christmas wish lists. Treats will be handed out, along with Christmas cheer, after the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony concludes around 6:15 PM. Kids can bring their letters to Santa and deposit them in the North Pole Park Victorian-style mailbox. 

Celebrating 70 Years of Christmas Spirit

WaKeeney has been celebrating Christmas with bright lights and lots of holiday spirit for seven decades. With the new additions of LED lights, a new home for Santa, and the updates to North Pole Park, we are ready to ring in another seventy years. Please join us under the lights of our famous tree on November 28th, 2020 (always the Saturday after Thanksgiving) to celebrate the holidays and the festive spirit of the “Christmas City of the High Plains.” 

This annual tradition will continue in 2020 but we urge everyone to practice safety measures. Please, follow social distancing guidelines & please wear masks if required.  Follow us on Facebook @GetWaKeeney, check out our website, or call (785) 743-8325 for more information.

Enjoy and Be Safe!

Explore the History of WaKeeney’s Famous Christmas Display

The Trego County Historical Society Museum’s celebration of the 70thanniversary of the “Christmas City of the High Plains” continues into its fourth month, with an exhibit that tells the story of Downtown WaKeeney’s famous Christmas display.

The Christmas tree in downtown WaKeeney in the 1950s.
Photo provided by Trego County Historical Society Museum.

The “Christmas City of the High Plains” Exhibit

Museum curators have been busy adding more items to their exhibit each month since its opening in July.  The exhibit has steadily been increasing in size, with each month exploring a different phase in the history of WaKeeney’s light display. 

In July, the museum featured Christmas tree inspired items, such as Christmas trees shaped cookie cutters, salt and pepper shakers, Christmas stockings, and many more items. Each month, fourteen more representations of Christmas trees are added until November, when the full collection of 70 items will complete the display. 

The tree’s construction and its ornaments were examined in the August exhibit, with several made to scale cardboard cutouts of the wreaths, bells, and stars available to view up close. Information cards further explore how two local community leaders, Art Keraus and J.H. “Jake” Heckman came up with the concept and rallied the Trego County community to lend their time, talents, and even heavy equipment to install the very first light display in 1950.

September’s addition to the exhibit took a look at the history of the official 1988 logo and the many different items that have promoted the “Christmas City of the High Plains” through the years.

The logo was created by WaKeeney native Tracey Deines Davis, cofounder of Duncan and Davis advertising firm. It has since been used on keychains, postcards, ornaments, mugs, and many other treasured keepsakes that remind us of special Christmases spent in WaKeeney.

Celebrate with Us in the “Christmas City of the High Plains”

Explore the history of WaKeeney’s spectacular Christmas light display with a trip to the Trego County Historical Museum! The exhibit will continue to explore a new theme every month until Saturday, November 28, 2020, when we will celebrate 70 years since WaKeeney’s first Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. The museum has created a scavenger hunt to find all the trees currently on display and visitors can check back each month to find the new trees that have been added to the display.Hope to see you there! 

Plan Your 2019 Kansas Road Trip with Kansas Tourism Experts at the Trego County Historical Society Museum

As part of its yearlong Golden Anniversary celebration, the Trego County Historical Society and Trego Travel & Tourism will be welcoming two tourism experts from the Kansas Sampler Foundation to share stories of the people, places, and activities found in their book, the Kansas Guidebook 2 on June 9th at 2pm at the museum.


Kansas Explorers

Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe have spent four years visiting every one of the 626 incorporated cities in Kansas. In their guidebook they detail stories, tips, and images from the road that are meant to stir your curiosity and get you excited for a summer of fun in the Sunflower state.

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“We will take the audience on a picture journey through the state, sharing road trip ideas and telling stories about our adventures,” said Penner, “From restaurant suggestions to art, architecture, history, geography and more, we’ll give you a sampling of what to see in Kansas.“

The guidebook offers a wide array of interesting stops to explore, including historic sites, specialty shops, little known points-of-interest, cemetery finds, bike trails and backroad scenic drives statewide. “There really is something for everyone,” Rowe tells us. “Whether you are looking for outdoor sites or ways to get to know a town.”

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After the program, the co-authors will sign and sell the Kansas Guidebook 2. The 480-page, coil-bound book can be used to plan your next Kansas road trip. The 4,500 entries provide descriptions, directions, hours, and contact information and there are more than 1,600 color pictures. You’ll even find information about our Trego County treasures!

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Penner and Rowe are founders of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, who’s mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture. The guidebook is a helpful tool they offer people who are interested in the history of our state and want information and tips to plan their own journey across the state. “Though the book reads like a travel guide, it’s intended to help people get to know the state and learn about Kansas towns of every size,” Penner states.


A New Collection at the Museum

The museum is also currently featuring a unique souvenir china collection dating the early 20th century and donated by Harold and Marcia Newcomer. The collection includes an array of pieces that will join the collection of souvenir china this is already part of the museum’s exhibition.


Join Us!

Ride along with authors Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe when they present their Kansas Guidebook 2 at the Trego County Historical Society Museum on June 9th at 2pm. Their insights will help you plan your next Kansas adventure!

Examining a Soldier’s Life in World War I With the Trego County Historical Society

A world in transition, a war like none other. The fall of monarchies and the rise of the United States on the world stage. This was the result of the First World War, one of the world’s most devasting military conflicts.

deb goodrichThe Trego County Historical Society is taking a deeper look at World War I during a presentation given by historian Deb Goodrich of Oakley on Sunday, January 27 at 2 p.m. for their 2019 Kansas Day program at the museum in WaKeeney.

The program, “The Soldier State in the Great War,” will focus on the Trego and Ness County connections to World War I, as well as recognize the 100th anniversary of the war’s end on November 11, 1918, today’s Armistice Day.


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“The War to End All Wars”

World War I was an international conflict that embroiled most of the nations of Europe along with Russia, the United States, and the Middle East in shocking carnage between 1914-1918. The war pitted the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire against the Allies, or Entente Powers, composed of France, Great Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States, who joined the effort from 1917 until the war’s conclusion.

L0009384 World War I: stretcher bearers

The Great War, as it was also called at the time, was virtually unprecedented in the slaughter and destruction it caused. This was due to technological advances in warfare that occurred during the Industrial Age. The introduction of tanks, improved machine guns, and chemical warfare, along with airplanes, and German U-boats opened up new avenues of death to soldiers and civilians alike. The result of the fighting was so severe the conflict was believed to be the “war to end all wars” and brought about the development of the League of Nations, a precursor to NATO, as a platform where leaders of nations could negotiate grievances, rather than dissolve into another merciless war.

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Photo courtesy of the Trego Historical Society.

In recognition of the 100thanniversary of World War I, the Trego County Historical Society Museum has featured several items from local private collections throughout the past four years. Uniforms, weapons, personal items and letters have been displayed, along with the recruiting posters that depict the urgency of the effort, as well as the artistic style of marketing in the early 20th century.

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Photo courtesy of Trego County Historical Society

Western Kansas Connections

The war’s effect stretched as far as Western Kansas, with several young men from across our region joining the military and traveling to the battlefields of France. Today, our local VFW is named in honor of the first of these young men to become a casualty, Randall Reid. (pictured above)

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Historian Deb Goodrich

Goodrich is the Garvey Foundation Historian in Residence at the Fort Wallace Museum and the co-host of “Around Kansas TV Show.” She is the author of several books and has appeared in numerous documentaries, as well as writing and co-producing the docudrama, “Thof’s Dragon.” She is a graduate of Washburn University in Topeka and a resident of Oakley, Kansas.

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Fourth Grade Coloring Competition

In addition to Goodrich’s presentation, awards for the historical society’s coloring contest will be presented to the winners in the first through fourth grades.  This is the seventh year the historical society has sponsored the contest and the top three winners in each classroom will be announced at the Kansas Day program.

Please join us for this special presentation, “The Soldier State in the Great War,” on Saturday, January 27 at 2 p.m. at the museum in WaKeeney, Kansas. For more information you can check out the Trego County Historical Society’s  Facebook page or call (785) 743-2963.




Celebrate the 2018 Holiday Season in the “Christmas City of the High Plains”

It’s Christmastime in WaKeeney, Kansas and this year we are filled with more holiday spirit than ever before!

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This year, the “Christmas City of the High Plains” will host their 68thAnnual Christmas Festival on Saturday, November 24th where we will turn on our new LED color-changing perimeter lights for the very first viewing before they become a permanent part of our Main Street. There are many great events planned for this celebration, including holiday shopping, carol singing, and celebrating this joyful season.

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Shopping at the Annual Christmas Bazaar

Get a jump start on your holiday decorating and shopping at WaKeeney’s Annual Christmas Bazaar. Vendors will open their doors from 10am–4pm to give you the opportunity to find the perfect gift for your favorite people (including you!). The Bazaar is held at the Trego County Fairgrounds and you’ll find household and beauty items, along with a large selection of handmade Christmas decorations, and much, much more!

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Explore the History and Beauty of Nativity Scenes

Enjoy the true spirit of the holiday at the Trego County Historical Society Museum. Their special exhibit, a “Festival of Nativities,” will feature nativity scenes in many styles, types, and forms that span decades. Don’t forget to explore the museum’s new addition where you’ll find many more interesting historical items dating back to the founding of our town. (Open from 10am-Noon; and 1-4pm.)


Free Family Fun and InMotion’s Virtual Reality Ride

Head to Downtown WaKeeney at 4pm for holiday fun and festivities. Local business owners are hosting a ticket booth in our newest retail store, What Knot’s in Pine at 126 N. Main. They will be providing FREE tickets to reserve a spot in line to see Santa Claus or ride on InMotion’s popular “Santa’s Sleigh Ride” virtual reality experience. Experience the thrill and excitement Santa enjoys on his midnight ride. It will be operating from 5-9pm.

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Join Us at the Community Soup Supper

Warm your body with a big bowl of homemade soup from the chefs of the VFW Auxiliary. This community Soup Supper will be held at the VFW Hall at 4:30pm and will serve dessert along with the soup. It’s the perfect way to get you ready for all the great evening events to come. You might get lucky, too, at a raffle they will be holding during the meal.

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Gypsy Kansas

Enjoy the Live Music

Stop by The Studio 128 from 4:30-5:45pm and after our Christmas tree lighting ceremony from 6:30-8pm for a live performance from two Kansas bands. Get your fix of Christmas carols, tap your toe, and join in on the chorus as the bands go through their catalog of seasonal favorites.

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Games, Crafts, Treats and Drinks!

The elves have nothing on the enterprising folks at Santa’s Downtown Workshop. WaKeeney’s area businesses will be hosting crafts, games, snacks and drinks for all the kids in their stores while they wait to visit Santa 5–8pm. Look for the our posters at participating businesses.

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Christmas Carols with a Barbershop Quartet

Christmas carols are getting the Barbershop Quartet treatment courtesy of the Trego Arts Council. The performance begins after the tree lighting ceremony at the VFW Hall with traditional holiday songs perfectly harmonized, up and down the scale.

Downtown Christmas Tree & Decorations

68ThAnnual “Christmas City of the High Plains Christmas Festival

Join us at the crossroads of Main Street and Russell Avenue at 6pm under the light of our 35-foot Christmas tree for the 68ThAnnual “Christmas City of the High Plains’” tree lighting ceremony!

Expect an extra grand display this year, as we’ve fortified our holiday decorations with brand new LED color-changing perimeter lights from Inception Lighting adorning buildings throughout the four-blocks of Downtown WaKeeney. Thanks to the generosity of local businesses, a Dane G. Hansen grant, and the citizens who contributed to the “Get Lit” campaign, the lights will continue to shine bright throughout the year, with a rainbow of colors for every season.


A Visit from Santa Claus

Get ready to welcome the man of the hour, Santa Claus, as he lights our famous Christmas tree. Afterwards, we’ll escort him to his special holiday seat in our very own North Pole Park, where he’ll checking his list and listening to every child’s wishes before sending them on their way with a special holiday treat.


Jump on the Horse Drawn Carriage Ride

Listen closely after the tree lighting ceremony to hear the clop, clop, clop of jolly holiday revelers as they cruise our Main Street in a decorated horse drawn carriage from Big Creek Horse & Carriage. Sponsored by Solutions North Bank, this is a much-anticipated FREE activity every year.


Enjoy the magic of the season under the glow of holiday lights in the “Christmas City of the High Plains” on Saturday, November 24. Our display remains lit through New Years and is free to the public. For more information, please contact organizers at (877)962-7248 or (785)743-8325, or check out our website and look for updates on our Facebook page.

Come to WaKeeney to make wonderful holiday memories with us in “the Christmas City of the High Plains!”

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

Trego - Country School at Historical Society

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.

Trego - Country Schools Trego Co. Historical

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.


“Biking Across Kansas” Cyclists Roll Into WaKeeney

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There’s nothing like hittin’ the road for a long distance ride along our beautiful Trego County landscape. On June 11th and 12th over seven hundred cyclists will do just that as they continue their ride during the annual “Biking Across Kansas” (BAK) cycling tour.


This is the second time the predetermined route has been mapped through our county. Thirty-five years ago, in 1982, WaKeeney played host to the BAK cyclists and we’re excited to welcome them back a second time.

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The group of between 700-800 riders, aged 9-90, will ride into town from the south on Hwy. 283, spending the night in WaKeeney before continuing on northeast to their next stop in Plainville, but not before seeing the best our county has to offer when we welcome them at our “Party in the Park!”

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“Party in the Park”

The event will be held at the Swimming Pool Park from 1pm to 8pm, with activities, food, drinks, and lots of fun ready for all! WaKeeney’s restaurants and many of our retail stores around town will stay open, with special hours on Sunday, and a “pop up” food court sponsored by local businesses and organizations will be set up in the park from 1-8pm for riders and spectators. Look for these yummy treats and their sponsors at the park:

  • Beer garden and brats – Eagles Lodge
  • Hamburgers & hot dogs – K-18 Baseball Teams
  • Bottled water, lemonade, ice tea & Snacks – Keeney Queens Red Hats
  • Beef/chicken & noodles, mashed potatoes, coleslaw and bread – Leap of Faith
  • Smoked meats & sides – Rods and Ribs BBQ
  • Snow cones – Sno Days
  • Homemade baked goods, pies, cakes, & cookies – Trego County 4-H Clubs
  • Soft-serve Ice Cream – Trego Manor
  • Sloppy Joes, salads, & desserts – United Methodist Church, Eve Circle (serving from 5–8pm)

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June 11th Activities

In addition to that, participants can cool off at the WaKeeney Water Park & Pool (1-8pm), visit the Trego County Historical Museum (1-6pm, free entrance), enjoy a handmade soda at Gibson Healthmart’s old-fashioned soda fountain (1-5pm), or attend a wine tasting at The Studio & Kansas Art Gallery, where wines from Shiloh Vineyard, Trego County’s only vineyard, will be featured (1-5pm).

Later in the day there will be a Washer Tournament sponsored by WaKeeney Federated Wrestling Club at the Swimming Pool Park and the band “Gypsy KS” (formerly Flatland Band) will play bluegrass, country and rock n roll at a free concert (1–8 pm and sponsored by Biking Across Kansas, WaKeeney Lions Club and WaKeeney Travel & Tourism.)

Overnight indoor and outdoor camping accommodations are being readied at the Trego Community High School gym and practice field, and of course our local hotels and campground are happy to provide comfortable accommodations, too.

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June 12th Activities

The next morning the people of WaKeeney will say good-bye to the cyclists at the Trego County Fairgrounds’ Commercial Building at a biscuits and sausage gravy breakfast sponsored by the Trego County Historical Society from 5:30-8:30am. (Vegan options available.)

It’ll be an exciting weekend as WaKeeney welcomes cyclists from across the United States in their third stretch of the annual “Biking Across Kansas” ride on June 11th and 12th. Join us in cheering them on at the Swimming Pool Park, where you’ll be able to get in on the fun, games, and great food that will showcase the best of Trego County!

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The Trego County Historical Society Museum Is Ready For Kansas Day (January 29)

This Sunday, Kansas Day, is the 156th anniversary of our beautiful state, making it a great day to visit the  Trego County Historical Museum, where new collections, guest speakers and the recently completed annex have given our historians more opportunities than ever to tell the stories of our county.

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More Exhibits

At a museum, more floor space means more room to explore interesting collections. At the Trego County museum visitors will find 20th-century artifacts from local people, as well as prehistoric era fossils from a time when a great inland sea trapped some of the earliest sea creatures in limestone at the bottom of the great inland sea that once covered the High Plains.

Of particular interest are the early agricultural tools and machinery and the collection of memorabilia from the Trego County schools. Soon they’ll be adding to that display with photos from the Collyer school.

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A recent installation in the museum is the ornate 1920s façade that once graced the front of the WaKeeney State Bank. Its 145 stones were a donation from local collectors Max and Irene Dirks and local volunteers contributed many hours to preparing them for installation.

Coming soon is a group of prehistoric and ancient fossils that were found on the farm of Leonard and Irene Purinton. Most of the items from either Trego or Gove County and the collection includes a mammoth femur and a squid fossil, sharks teeth, arrowheads, and many other unique items.

Look for the announcement of a special exhibit in April when the museum commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I. They’ve recently uncovered several vintage propaganda posters deep in their archives and they will take center stage during the exhibition.


More Events

Last weekend Jim Gray, executive director of the National Drovers Hall of Fame, shared his knowledge of cowboy life during his talk, “Head ‘em Up and Move ‘em Out.” It was a great success, with over 95 people in attendance coming from as far away as Oklahoma.

Several other presenters have enlightened us with stories of other heroic pioneers, such as executive director of the Nicodemus Historical Society Angela Bates who spoke about the history of Nicodemus, the first all-black settlement founded on the Great Plains.

The museum is committed to hosting speakers who can provide a glimpse into the past through storytelling, research and their enthusiasm for the subject.

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More Room

The recent addition of a 120 x 60 square foot building has doubled the museum’s display area, allowing easy access to twice as many displays with artifacts that had spent years in storage due to lack of space. Sections are dedicated to history dating back to prehistoric eras, the ancient past, early pioneer days, and all the way to our modern times, with ample room for guests to explore and a beautiful mural covering one wall.

In addition to the public space, an additional storage space is currently in the works to provide safe and secure storage for artifacts not on display. With this additional space the historians will be able to more efficiently organize and catalogue the museum’s entire collection.

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Next time you’re in WaKeeney stop by the museum to explore all the great stories brought to life by the historians and volunteers of the Trego Historical Society Museum. Check their website for more information about their hours and directions to the museum.  (, 128 N. 13th St, WaKeeney, KS, 785.743.2964)

Agricultural History Honored at the Trego County Historical Museum

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For over 135 years agriculture has been the economic backbone of Trego County, bringing enterprising people to our cities and creating a legacy of successful family farms that continues today. Rich in technical innovation, scientific application, and good, old-fashioned hard work, Trego County’s rural history is being honored this weekend by the Trego County Historical Society museum with an exhibit that spans a century of farming in Western Kansas.

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Vintage farm machinery dating back to the early 20th century will be on display, including a one-bottom plow, hand tools and livestock equipment. Several area farmers will also be exhibiting their personal collections of antique farm equipment, including items that have been passed down through multiple generations of family farmers.

Trego - Ag History Event2Larry Steckline and his wife, former Kansas State Attorney General Carla Stovall Steckline, will join us at the event during a book signing for his newly released biography, “Larry Steckline: A Half-Century as the Voice of Kansas Agriculture.” Steckline began his long career in agriculture on a family farm in Ogallah, becoming a leading advocate for farmers at the local, state, and national levels. His insights into a broad range of topics are based on the childhood he spent in Trego County and today he is considered an expert in agricultural news and policy.

This special event will kick off with a fundraiser breakfast of biscuits and gravy—a true farmhouse classic—from 8am to 10am, and the farm exhibits will be on display until 4pm. Contact the Historical Society for more information about the event, and don’t forget to check out the new addition to the museum. All proceeds from the breakfast will go towards completing the interior of the building and sales of Larry Steckline’s book will be divided between the local FFA chapter and the Trego County Historical Society.

Trego - Historical Society