Where to Go to Enjoy Time Outside in Trego County

Looking for something safe to do with your kids during this unexpected school closure and Spring Break? Trego County has many sites and landmarks that are great places to learn and play outdoors!

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Hiking and Fishing at Cedar Bluff State Park & Reservoir

Cedar Bluff State Park & Reservoir is continuing to rise and it’s currently at the highest point it’s been in years! State Park officials have turned on the water to the Despatch and Hoonii Campgrounds. The North bathhouse (located by the rental cabins) is open for public use.

Your child will be thrilled when they hook a fish at Pa’s Pond. Located in the Bluffton Area on the North Shore, this is a stocked pond with shade trees that are perfect for a picnic when the weather is nice.

The Cedar Bluff Office is closed to public access at this time and staff will be available by phone. We encourage everyone to use the HuntFish KS and Campit KS apps to purchase all your privileges and reservations prior to visiting the park.

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Let your kids run off extra energy at Cedar Bluff State Park’s 5-mile Agave Ridge Nature Trail. The first mile is paved and an easy walk for everyone. Interpretive signs of flora and fauna in the area. The next four miles is a mowed trail that leads to a beautiful view of the 100-ft. bluffs that gives the park its name. This is a more difficult trail for ambitious hikers. Spring is the perfect time to see the blooming flowers and playful animals enjoying the warm weather and this is a great trail to view them.

The Agave Ridge Trail is accessed through the Page Creek Area on the South Shore of Cedar Bluff State Park and is managed on Wildlife Area lands; vehicle permits are required to access the trail head.


NOTE: The bridge over the Cedar Bluff Reservoir spillway is currently under construction on K-147 until August 2020. The road is closed for 1.8 miles, but the rest of the highway is open to travelers. KDOT has created a 60-mile detour around the lake. For a shorter detour, take one of Trego County’s scenic country roads, such as TR CO U or X. Just Make sure road conditions are good, especially after wet weather.

To get to the North Shore: Access to all the north side landmarks can be reached as usual from I-70 at the Ogallah exit traveling south on K-147. (Emanuel Lutheran Church, the Bluffton Campground, Cedar Bluff State Park’s office, Threshing Machine Canyon, and the BOD Marker) 

To Get to the South Shore: Access the South Shore by traveling north on K-147 from Hwy 4 at Brownell. (Page Creek Campground, Agave Ridge Hiking Trail, and the Scenic Bluff Overlook)


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Paleontology on the Prairie

Science class is right under your feet at Castle Rock, the Badlands. Go fossil hunting for sharks’ teeth that date back millions of years to when the Great Inland Sea divided the North America continent in half.

Your kids can imagine the giant prehistoric fish that once lived in the rock’s nooks and crannies and swam right above their heads. The geological features of the Kansas prairie are also a perfect example of how water and wind affect rocks over millions of years.

A Wildlife Safari

Bring your binoculars with you to catch a glimpse of a few of our wild neighbors. White tail and mule deer, coyotes, jackrabbits, and a prairie songbirds, like meadowlarks and red winged blackbirds, fill our prairie. Early morning is the best time to see these animals but beware of rattlesnakes in the rocky areas where they may be sunning themselves.

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Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

The stories of our ancestors come to life at historical landmarks along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway. Look for one of the Butterfield Overland Despatch (B.O.D.) limestone posts along Hwy. 147 south of Cedar Bluff State Park’s Bluffton Area. It’s just one several markers placed along the historic Smoky Hill Trail in the 1960s to map out the route early pioneers used to travel to the Colorado gold mines over 100 years ago.

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The Wilcox School

Visit one of the last remaining rural schoolhouses in Trego County, Wilcox School. It’s a great opportunity to point out how different students experienced school over a hundred years ago. To get to the school travel 15-miles south on Hwy. 283 south of WaKeeney. Several interpretive panels in the windows tell how the school was used 1886 to the present day and one panel will help you learn more about the native wildflowers found along the byway during the growing season.

Stop at the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway’s informational kiosks located along Hwy. 283 and WaKeeney’s Eisenhower Park at Exit 127 for more lessons on the history and environment of our county and city.

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History and Fun at WaKeeney’s City Parks

WaKeeney is home to great parks and playgrounds. Let them run free on the vast lawn of the Courthouse Square in Downtown WaKeeney.

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Plan a picnic at the Swimming Pool Park. With playground equipment for all ages and covered shelters, families can spend hours at the park without running out of things to do.

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City Landmarks

WaKeeney is home to several war memorials that illustrate America’s role in conflicts around the globe and the sacrifices made by the men and women of our military.

Iwo Jima Memorial

You’ll find the Iwo Jima Memorial at I-70’s east Exit #128, an F-14 jet at Eisenhower Park, a Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial at Courthouse Square, and the KansasVeteran’s Cemetery one mile north of the Iwo Jima memorial on Hwy. 283.

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 Time Out for Parents at Big Creek Golf Course

Spend time teach your kids the game of golf at Big Creek Golf Course. The nine-hole course is arolling prairie with native Buffalo grass fairways and lush, watered greens. With a yardage of 6251, a slope of 122 and a rating of 69.6, you’ll have the opportunity to send that ball sailing in an arc across the big, beautiful prairie sky.

More Ideas

There are even more ways to enjoy time outside in Trego County!

TJH Kay has put together a “Social Distancing Scavenger Hunt” for March 25-April 15. The “Pillars of Education” theme encourages the community to display things in their windows that correspond with the topic of the week. Kids can find them when they are out on walks and enter weekly to win the Family Prize Pack by texting (785) 769-3297 or posting a picture of your participation on KAY Sponsor Stacie Edgett Minson’s Facebook page. (Check out the flyer above for ideas to place in your window.)

Take your little ones on a “Bear Hunt” through town. Several of our citizens have placed teddy bears in the windows of their homes for kids to look for as they pass by. Check out the Facebook page dedicated to the event for more information.

Geocaching is a great way to explore the outdoors through a challenging game and give your kids a lesson about how to use coordinates to locate landmarks.

Anyone who’s attended TCHS knows the glory of “dragging Main,” so let’s crank up the tunes and do it again! Drag Main – WaKeeney! Let’s Do It Again! will be held Saturday, March 28that 8pm. There will be a box on the corner of First Federal for anyone who would like to donate non-perishable items to family food boxes. This is a repeat of an earlier event that saw great success, with over 70 cars and 124 canned goods and other items donated to our friends in need. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

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Family Memories

While it’s important to social distance ourselves at this time, you don’t have to stay indoors. Get out and make some memories with your kids! You’ll find many activities and learning opportunities right outside your door in Trego County.

 

3 “Don’t Miss” Trego County Day Trips

Traveling down a country road is often the best way to explore the amazing beauty and many surprises found throughout Western Kansas. With that in mind we’ve compiled three day trips within Trego County that will delight and excite you as you cruise down the “road less traveled.”


NOTE: The bridge over the Cedar Bluff Reservoir spillway is currently under construction on K-147 until August 2020. The road is closed for 1.8 miles, but the rest of the highway is open to travelers. KDOT has created a 60-mile detour around the lake. For a shorter detour, take one of Trego County’s scenic country roads, such as TR CO U or X. Just make sure road conditions are good, especially after wet weather. 

To get to the North Shore: Access to all the north side landmarks can be reached as usual from I-70 at the Ogallah exit traveling south on K-147. (Emanuel Lutheran Church, the Bluffton Campground, Cedar Bluff State Park’s office, Threshing Machine Canyon, and the BOD Marker)

To Get to the South Shore: Access the South Shore by traveling north on K-147 from Hwy 4 at Brownell. (Page Creek Campground, Agave Ridge Hiking Trail, and the Scenic Bluff Overlook)


Trego County Day Trips

Day Trip 1: The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

Begin your exploration on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway! There are eight features along the 60-mile route that offer insight into the landscape and history of the region.

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Begin your drive by turning off I-70 at Ogallah and head south at Hwy. 147 and drive to the Emanuel Lutheran Church. Constructed in 1902 by Swedish immigrants using native limestone, it is a beautiful example of the craftsmanship of our early settlers.

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Just down the road from the church is Cedar Bluff State Park & Reservoir, Trego County’s scenic natural playground.

As you continue drive on K-147 to the Bluffton area keep a sharp eye out for a quarried limestone post with “BOD 1865” carved into its front. It is located south of the turn into the park’s Bluffton Area and the Cedar Bluff State Park office. It marks the Butterfield Overland Despatch route that took early pioneers to the goldmines in Colorado. It is one of several that trace the historic trail from Atchison, Kansas to Denver and was erected in the 1960s as a memorial to the arduous journey.Nearby, you can hike a trail leading to Threshing Machine Canyon where pioneers carved messages into the limestone rock as they traveled west.

The Cedar Bluff State Park office has several brochures that can add to your experience along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway, and park officials can give you tips to help you get the most out of your day trip, including spending time at the 350-acre Bluffton Area campground and picnic area.


 NOTE: At this point, due to the bridge construction, you will either have to turn around and take the KDOT detour (60-miles) to the South Shore or take the shorter detour on the Trego County roads.

 Suggested Alternative Route: We suggest a more scenic country road that starts at Trego CO CC Road from K-147 on the east side of the reservoir and connects to Hwy 283 on the west side. Follow the road, which eventually becomes Trego CO AA Road as it continues west, then turn toward the Scenic Bluff Overlook turnoff.


 Once you reach the south side of the reservoir, we suggest taking the scenic country road to the Page Creek Area, the Agave Ridge Hiking Trail, and the Cedar Bluff Overlook. It’s a beautiful natural area where visitors often spot wildlife in the prairie grasses and along the shore.

The overlook boasts towering 100-foot limestone bluffs that is a perfect place to take in beautiful landscape and Cedar Bluff Reservoir.

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When you reach Hwy. 283 turn north to WaKeeney and make a stop at the Wilcox School, a one-room schoolhouse built in 1886. The limestone was quarried along the Smoky Hill River and brought to the site by local stonemasons. For sixty years it was used as a school and community center, and eventually a motorcycle club claimed it as their clubhouse. Today, you’ll find informative panels that provide details into the history of the building, the region, and the wildflowers growing in the area.

Get to know our prairie better at the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway Kiosk. It is full of information about the surrounding flora and fauna and interesting historical facts that occurred in the area.

Look for a beautiful example of early Volga-German construction at the Zion Lutheran Church. Built in 1905,it continues to be an active church, with many of the original descendants still filling the pews.

Eisenhower Park

End your adventure inWaKeeney, Trego’s county seat. You’ll find beautiful parks, friendly businesses, hotels and restaurants, and many fun festivals happening throughout the year. Be sure to stop by the F-14 Fighter Jet in Eisenhower Park near Exit #127 to view the interpretive panels about WaKeeney and Trego County before you begin your road trip.

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Day Trip 2: Shiloh Vineyard

Enjoy a glass of Trego County sunshine at Shiloh Vineyard!

This family-owned winery was founded in 2008 by Kirk & Treva Johnston and is the only vineyard located in Western Kansas. All varieties of their wine are produced from fruit harvested on the Johnston family farm and includes dry whites, dry reds, semi-sweet white, fruit, and dessert wines. Shiloh offers regular wine tastings and an informative tour of the production facility, vineyard, and surrounding landscape. They often host special events and classes throughout the year.  To get to Shiloh Vineyard travel west from WaKeeney on I-70 seven miles to Exit #120 on Voda Road. Turn south on Voda Road/180 Avenue and travel 4 1/2 miles to M Road. Turn west on M Road and drive 1-mile to the vineyard.

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Day Trip 3: Castle Rock

Take a trip into the past with a visit to Castle Rockone of the most notable features on our prairie. The large chalk pillar was formed from limestone deposits during the mid- to late Cretaceous period when a great inland sea divided North America. Designated as one of the “8 Wonders of Kansas,” it was used as a landmark for pioneers  and has become a favorite among today’s fossil hunters. To find Castle Rock take I-70 at Exit #115 to Collyer, turn south on Banner Road/130 Avenue and travel for approximately 12.4 miles to TR CO U. Turn west on TR CO U Rd and travel approximately 2.8 miles. You will be traveling from Trego County to Gove County, where the road becomes GO CO K. Turn into the pasture at the Castle Rock sign, cross the cattle guard, and stop at the overlook to enjoy the view below of Castle Rock and it’s nearby rocky neighbor call the Badlands. You may drive down into the valley below but pay attention to the road conditions and the weather as the chalk dust can get slick and sticky.

Before you head out on your day trip through Trego County grab aWaKeeney Visitor’s Guide & Map. In it you’ll find all the roads in Trego County mapped out for you to explore “off the beaten path” where the scenery and landscape come alive. You can find them at many different locations in WaKeeney or at the Cedar Bluff Office at the North Shore or at Sport Haven.

See Western Kansas’s beauty, grandeur, and historical significance on a day trip through Trego County!

Limestone: Trego County’s Foundation Stone

Throughout Trego County you’ll find unique white rock formations breaking through our vast prairie. These chalky outcroppings are evidence of the great Western Inland Seaway that divided the North American continent millions of years ago. Today, you’ll find the same rock has been used in many of the most notable buildings you’ll find on the Great Plains.

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Niobrara Chalk

The majority of the limestone found within Trego County’s borders is classified as Niobrara Chalk, a geologic deposit created between 85 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous period. It is a soft stone formed from calcium deposits that easily flakes apart to reveal fossils of plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, pterosaurs, sharks, and primitive aquatic birds.

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Fossilized Oyster Shells, Image by James St. John

Geological maps show the largest deposits of Niobrara Chalk limestone are located in the southern section of Trego County in the Smoky Hill River Valley, where you’ll find exposed sections at Cedar Bluff Overlook in the Cedar Bluff State Park and Castle Rock southwest of Collyer. More examples are to be found at Monument Rocks in neighboring Gove County and at Little Jerusalem, Kansas’s newest state park which is located south of Oakley. For a tour of these sites head south from WaKeeney on Hwy. 283 to begin at Cedar Bluff State Park & Reservoir, then follow the Smoky Hill River Valley west to each of these formations in Trego, Gove, and Logan Counties.

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Greenhorn Limestone

Greenhorn limestone, or Post Rock, is a hard limestone found along Trego County’s eastern border. It was formed during the Late Cretaceous period along with Niobrara limestone and includes many of the same marine animal fossils found in the softer, chalky variety of limestone. Today, it is quarried along the eastern border of Trego County.

Due to the lack of wood on the grassy prairie, Post Rock limestone was a primarybuilding materialin the 1800’s. Many early construction projects in Trego County relied on this hard stone, when city founders Albert Warren and James Keeney created their “Queen City of the High Plains.” Here are a few of the most notable buildings that utilized limestone quarried in Trego County.

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The Trego County Courthouse

Built between 1888-1889, the grand Trego County Courthouse is an American Queen Anne style building. At the time of its construction it featured an Elizabethan frontage and a 100-foot cupola imported from Europe. The limestone used on its exterior is Post Rock that was quarried locally, as well as limestone brought from Manhattan, KS.

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The building has undergone a few changes since its construction, but still retains its original limestone exterior.

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Kansas Pacific Railway Depot

WaKeeney’s Kansas Pacific Railway Depot was an ornate railway station completed in 1879 with limestone found along the Saline River and Big Creek. On July 4, 1879, Warren, Keeney & Co. held a grand celebration to advertise their land sales. The Governor of Kansas was present and made a speech from the new depot’s platform. At the time, the magnificent, stone railway depot was described as the best and most modern facility between Kansas City and Denver.  It was acquired by the Union Pacific Railroad and housed their operations until the 1930’s, and later demolished.

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WaKeeney Opera House

One of the most impressive limestone buildings in Trego County was the WaKeeney Opera House. In 1884, this large, attractive building was the center of WaKeeney’s activities, and  entertainment. It had a seating capacity of 400 and featured ornate murals on the ceiling and walls and a large brass chandelier with Rochester electric lamps. The Oprah House cost $20,000 to build andhoused grocery stores, newspapers offices, land offices, real estate agents, the post office, a bank, the school, and the opera hall. This fine example of Great Plains architecture was destroyed by fire on February 4, 1895 and today the site is home to the Trego County Health Department.

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Emanuel Lutheran Church

Today’s Emanuel Lutheran Church used limestone quarried from nearby Threshing Machine Canyon located along the Smoky Hill Trail. It was built by Swedish immigrants in 1902 and was originally christened as the Swedish Evangelical Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

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WaKeeney Municipal Building

The WaKeeney Municipal Building was a project planned in 1937 by the Work Project Administration (WPA) as part of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal initiative. It incorporates native limestone blocks in a modern design, with a broad staircase that leads up to a sheltered portico.

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The Wilcox School

The Wilcox School, a one-room schoolhouse located 16-miles south of WaKeeney, was built in 1886 with limestone quarried by area’s early settlers along the Smoky Hill River. They cut it from the river’s south shore and hauled the stone to the building site across natural fords or low-water bridges. Visitors can see this historic landmark up close by traveling south on Hwy. 283.

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B.O.D. Markers

A more recent addition of Post Rock to our landscape are the B.O.D. markers travelers can follow along the historic route of the Butterfield Overland Despatch, Smoky Hill Trail. In 1960, Historian Howard C. Raynesford of Ellis, KS researched the location of the trail and had the posts erected at points where it crossed a North/South road. The markers are engraved with “BOD – 1865” and stand on a concrete base that offers more information.

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 Visit the Trego County Historical Museum

To learn more about our region’s limestone deposits we invite you to visit the Trego County Historical Society Museum. Don’t forget to check out the Purinton Fossil Collection which includes many fine examples Cretaceous period creatures that were in both Niobrara and Post Rock limestone.

 

 

Remembering Veterans at the “Wreaths Across America” Ceremony

The Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney will continue the tradition of honoring members of the military at the annual “Wreaths Across America” ceremony on Saturday, December 14, at 11am. The event follows the exact same program held at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. and will give our visitors the opportunity to show appreciation for the sacrifices made by our military men and women.

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Master of ceremonies Errol Wuertz of the Civil Air Corp. will lead the ceremony, with Rev. Stanton offering the benediction and invocation. This will be followed by a 21-gun salute and taps performed by the Colby VFW Honor Guard during the gravesite laying of the wreaths. Families are welcome to dress their loved one’s graves, and members of the American Legion Riders and Smoky Hill Composite Squadron will lay wreaths for those service members whose families are unable to attend the event.

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Seven specially made wreaths have been donated by the Worcester Wreath Company, the same supplier of the wreaths laid at Arlington National Cemetery. Each wreath recognizes a different branch of the military: the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, as well as the Merchant Marines and the POWs.

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The “Wreaths Across America” ceremony is a very special event for our citizens. Please join us on Saturday, December 14th, at 11am to honor our Kansas veterans and veterans around the world.

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Other WaKeeney Sites that Honor our Military

After the ceremony has concluded take a tour around WaKeeney to find monuments that honor our country’s military. Get up close to an F-14 jet in Eisenhower Park, visit the Memorial to Iwo Jimaat I-70’s Exit 128, and stroll through the Trego County Courthouse Square in Downtown WaKeeney to a memorial to veterans of all foreign wars.

Iwo Jima Memorial

Celebrate the soldier’s sacrifice at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery in WaKeeney on Saturday, December 14th, at 11am during the “Wreaths Across America.”

Hunters Get Ready for the 2019-2020 Season in Trego County

The 2019-2020 hunting season is nearly upon us and Trego County is one of the best places to bag your limit of upland birds, and deer species.

The Smoky Hill region has a combined 438, 512 acres of public and Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) land that are available to hunters. These acres are full of pheasant, quail, turkey and mule and white-tail deer, making Trego County a hunter’s paradise. There are several businesses that cater to hunters, with guides, outfitters, and accommodations to suit every need.

Down North Outfitters

Rely on the life experience of Brandon and Brett Hille of Down North Outfitters to outfit and guide your hunt. The brother’s 4500-acre ranch has been their playground since they were kids, making them experts on the best places to find game. They’ll help you flush outwhitetail and mule deer from creek bottoms and fowl from the tall grass prairie.

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Down North Outfitters offer both guided and semi-guided hunts, and can help you with licensing and permits. Their land is located in southern Trego County along the Smoky Hill River.

For more information check the Down North Outfitters website: www.downnorthoutfitters.com or email them at downnorthoutfitters@gmail.com.

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Book Your Stay in Trego County Today!

Book your hunting trip in Trego County! With nine lodges, hotels, and B & Bs throughout our county, you’ll find a comfortable place to rest after a day out in the fields.

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Butterfield Trail Bunkhouse is a rustic guesthouse near Cedar Bluff State Park where hunting opportunities are just outside the door. It is located 14-miles south of WaKeeney on a working ranch and near natural gathering places for wildlife.

The bunkhouse accommodates up to four people and there is a fully stocked kitchen and a cleaning station available to prepare your pheasants for the trip home. Don’t forget to pre-order your home cooked meals when you book your stay if you don’t want to cook during your trip.

23033 T Road
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.769.3194
Email: wddeines@ruraltel.net

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The Country Barn Loft B & B is located only a few miles north of Cedar Bluff State Park and Reservoir and offers a truly unique lodging experience in this 1951 historic barn.

The repurposed barn wood used on the arched ceilings and walls and a barn style interior door gives this B & B an upscale country look. There are eight beds and a kitchenette inside this peaceful lodge, and skylights upstairs keep the loft bright throughout the day. A homemade breakfast is delivered hot to your door every morning and there is also onsite boarding available for your dogs.

19065 28th Ave.
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.743.5662
Email: jpwhite@ruraltel.net

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The Collyer Hunting Lodge and Family Getaway is a comfortable country home specially designed for hunters. It is located one mile off I-70 and ideal for large hunting parties.

It can accommodate up to twelve hunters and features a full kitchen, Direct TV & free WiFi, and onsite laundry facilities. Well-behaved dogs are welcome in this newly renovated home.

704 Ainslie Avenue
Collyer, KS 67631

Phone: 530.933.8229
Email: coloradorachel@outlook.com

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Cottage Garden Air B & B is an historic 1906 guest house located in the heart of Downtown WaKeeney where you can find everything you need to get you out on the hunt.

The cottage has two bedrooms and accommodates 8 people, a bath and a shower, a fully equipped kitchen and laundry facilities, air conditioning, free WiFi, and a smart TV. Enjoy the evening relaxing in the cozy sunroom.

510 Warren Avenue
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.743.2644
Email: wildflowermary@yahoo.com

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The WaKeeney KOA (open until November 15) is a great option for hunters who prefer to bed down in their camper during their hunting trip. Pull thru RV sites are spacious and can accommodate all types and sizes, without requiring you to unhook.

Sites include access to 50/30 amp or 30 amp electric, water, sewer, cable TV and grass to relax on. Grass tent sites are large and private with access to electricity and water nearby. Cabins are also available for those who want to camp without a RV or tent and are located near the restroom and shower facilities. The restroom, shower and laundry room facilities are open 24 hours for your convenience and Wi-Fi is accessible throughout the park.

25027 South Interstate
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.743.5612
Email: wakeeneykoa@eaglecom.net

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The Best Western Plus WaKeeney Inn & Suites offers luxury and a complimentary full breakfast for weary hunters. This is a great option for guests who need business services during their stay.

Suites are equipped with free WiFi, dataports, and coffee and tea makers. Their indoor pool offers a nice way to cool off after a day out and their 24-hour front desk will help you with anything you may need during your stay. Even early morning wake-up calls so you won’t miss the best time to hunt!

525 South 1st Street
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.743.2700
Email: bwwakeeney@hotmail.com

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The Kansas Kountry Inn is a vintage roadside motel. If you need to relax in the evening and get a good night’s rest, this is the motel for you!

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Located next to Jake and Chet’s restaurant and the Sundowner Lounge, it’s a clean, comfortable place to set up camp throughout your stay. It provides the basics and is only a few blocks north of I-70.

223 S 1st St.
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.743.2129
Email: judydiec@hotmail.com

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Located at WaKeeney’s east exit, the Super 8 offers the familiarity of a well-known hotel and easy access to Cedar Bluff just a few miles down the road  so you can be out in the field at first light.

Begin your day with a free 8-item SuperStart breakfast and coffee 24 hours a day. Enjoy the privacy of connecting to free WiFi in your room. They offer free WiFi, guest laundry services, free truck and RV parking, and non-smoking suites and accessible rooms. Ask about the plus suites for a “home-away-from-home” style stay.

709 S 13th St.
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785.743.6442
Email: wakeeneysuper8@gmail.com

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EconoLodge is positioned right off I-70 at the west exit. It’s a great value, with free WiFi and ample truck parking available.

The Econolodge offers clean, comfortable rooms at a reasonable rate. All rooms feature a coffee maker and TV and some rooms also feature a refrigerator. They offer a free continental breakfast and have a well-lit, large parking lot.

702 South 2nd Street
WaKeeney, KS 67672

Phone: 785-743-5505
Email: gm.ks086@choicehotels.com

 

Get ready for the 2019-2020 hunting season by booking your stay in Trego County today!

Getting to Know the Sunflower State on the “Big Kansas Road Trip”

 

There is much to love about the great state of Kansas—the art and architecture, local cuisine, fun events, and the awe-inspiring landscape that tells the story of the past, present, and future of our state. The Kansas Sampler Foundation has designed a program that encourages Kansans to get out and explore the hidden gems found in the Sunflower State. It’s called the Big Kansas Road Trip, and it’s bringing people from across Kansas right through Trego County to visit three of our Northwest Kansas neighbors.

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The Land and Sky Scenic Byway

The Big Kansas Road Trip (BKRT) is an annual event that puts a spotlight on a three neighboring counties. The 2019 event is focusing on the Land and Sky Byway, taking travelers through the communities and rural areas of Cheyenne, Sherman, and Wallace counties on May 2ndto 5th.

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What You’ll See on the Big Kansas Road Trip

The four-day adventure explores the historical sites, shops, attractions, and scenic roads of Northwest Kansas at your own pace. The red carpet is awaiting you at the many lodging options and restaurants you’ll find along the way, and the BKRT Program Guide will make sure you don’t miss a thing!

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Sherman County (Goodland, Kanorado, Edison) is famous for its celebration of our state flower with its Giant Van Gogh painting, but did you know it’s also the home of America’s first patented helicopter? You’ll find it at Goodland’s High Plains Museum.

You’ll also find the historic 1928 White Eagle gas station, John Deere Grasshopper sculpture, and the Kidder Battle Site where the 1867 massacre of the same name occurred within the county’s borders.

When you get hungry make a stop at Crazy R’s Bar & Grill for their delicious burgers and steaks or King’s Cafe,  which is a great place for home cooking and pastries.

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Cheyenne County (St. Francis, Bird City, Wheeler) offers visitors a chance to experience the amazing beauty of the Western Kansas prairie. Travel to the Arikaree Breaks to see a pint-sized Kansas version of the Grand Canyon, or stand tall at “Three Corners,” where Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas meet. At Cherry Creek Encampment and the Ancient Indian Traders Trail take a moment to reflect on our difficult history with the original people who claimed this prairie as their own.

When your day of exploring comes to an end, stop by the Fresh Seven Coffee at Union Square for a refreshing treat or Big Ed’s Steakhouse for a thick, hand-cut steak dinner.

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Wallace County (Sharon Springs, Weskan, Wallace) is home to Mt. Sunflower, the highest point in Kansas at 4,039-feet. Mechanically-minded people will enjoy visiting the Radiel Wrench Museum, where they’ll find a collection of 10,000 wrenches, and hobbyists of domestic crafts should visit the General Store for bulk food, fabric and sewing supplies, and gifts.

Take a peek into Kansas’s prehistoric story at the Fort Wallace Museum—home to a 40-foot long replica of a plesiosaur fossil discovered in 1867 by the fort’s surgeon. The museum also contains Old West memorabilia and art work that will take you back to the days when legendary Western men, like General Custer, Wild Bill Hickock, and Buffalo Bill Cody, called the fort “The Fightin’est Fort in the West.” And, don’t miss touring the Kansas Pacific Railway’s Superintendent’s Residence. Built in 1879, it is considered to be the finest example of its kind in the West.

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Much, Much More!

There are many more fascinating things you’ll find along the 2019 BKRT route, like Erin’s Food Truck that will be featuring a special menu for the tour. Special events, such as a concert series by Michael Martin Murphey that will occur on May 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Check out the Big Kansas Road Trip website for more information.

NOTE: Sherman and Wallace counties observe Mountain Time. Once you’ve entered these counties you are in a time warp, reversing time one hour!

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The “Stump”

You can find out more about the BKRT from program organizers Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe at one of the Kansas Sampler Festival’s “Stump “ events. During the 15-minute question/answer games they will provide more insight into the many things to see and do in the three featured counties. The Stump events are scheduled in seven different communities located in the featured counties and the winner will receive a prize from a Stump sponsor!

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Don’t Forget to Stop by Trego County on Your Trip West!

The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway has its own adventure waiting for you! Take a break during your adventure at the many great restaurants, shops, and attractions located in Trego County.

 

Our Restaurants

We have many notable restaurants serving local delicacies, like bierocks and catfish. Take a seat in the Western Kansas Saloon & Grill, Tropical Mexican Restaurant, Brazen Bull, Mike’s Place, or Jake and Chet’s.

 

Pick up a treat from our local Pizza Hut, Subway, McDonald’s, or Dairy Queen for an on-the-go treat.

 

Satisfy your sweet tooth with a soda or shake at Gibson’s Healthmart’s old-fashioned soda fountain or a cookie at Hometown Bakery.

 

And you’ll want to explore the aisles of Main Street Giftery & Floral, Gibson Health Mart Pharmacy, and Cleland Pharmacy, where you’ll find Kansas-themed gifts and locally made products. You can even memorialize your trip through our county with a turn at the artist’s table at Studio 128 and a bottle of wine from Shiloh Vineyards!

 

Explore our state on the Big Kansas Road Trip this May 2nd-5th! You’ll find surprises, thrills, and great people along the way.

Hop Into Spring Activities in WaKeeney

Spring has sprung and kids everywhere are itching to get outside and into the warm sunshine. WaKeeney is ready for them, with activities that will get them active, excited, and enjoying Trego County’s beautiful Spring days.

Activities in WaKeeney

Annual Easter Egg Hunt (Saturday, April 20th at 10:30am)

The Easter Bunny will be hopping into WaKeeney for the Trego Recreation Center’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt! Groups will be organized by age (6 months to 5th grade) so all our little bunnies will be able to find a few of the candy-filled Easter eggs. Bring your children to the Trego County Courthouse lawn with their Easter baskets and their sweet tooth for this free fun family event, then stick around after the hunt for prize drawings for each age group. 

Activities in WaKeeney

Father Daughter Dance (Sunday, April 14th at 1:30 –2:30pm)

Be your favorite little lady Prince Charming during an afternoon of dancing at the Trego Recreation’s annual Father Daughter Dance.

Activities in WaKeeney

This annual event will be held the Sunday after the TCHS prom, with the decorations of that night as the backdrop to the 2019 Father Daughter Dance. Either dads or another special person may accompany their special girl between 3 years to 5th grade. The event is $20 per couple and $5 for each additional daughter, which includes a corsage, snacks, dancing, and 2-4×6″ photos. (Photos will be taken between 2-3:30pm, plus other options available for purchase).

Sign up by April 5 to reserve your spot, but don’t wait! This event is very popular.

Activities in WaKeeney

Pee Wee Track Meet (Registration ends April 26th, Track Meet is scheduled for May 8th at 5pm)

Pint-sized runners and field sport stars are gearing up to compete at the TCHS T-ball and Trego Recreation’s 2019 Pee Wee Track Meet!

Activities in WaKeeney

Kids will compete in two group at the TCHS Goldsmith Track, preschoolers to 2nd grade and 3rd to 6th grade. Traditional events will be featured, giving the kids a chance to sample various types of competitive events, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place ribbons awarded for each event and all the kids will come away with a participation ribbon to reward them for their great sportsmanship. This is a free event for everyone, so come out and cheer on our young athletes!

Get your kids outside and into the fresh air for a great time running, dancing, and hopping into Spring!

The New Smoky Valley Scenic Byway’s Interpretive Signs Have Arrived in Trego County!

Dive deeper into the history and landscape of the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway at each of our recently installed interpretive panels! Each one tells the story of the historical markers and significant natural features that make our byway a Kansas state treasure.

Interpretive Signs, Eisenhower Park, F-14 JetInterpretive Signs, Eisenhower Park, F-14 Jet

An Eight Year Project Becomes Reality

The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway allows travelers to explore the history and landscape of our Northwest Kansas region. They are part of a larger joint effort between several state and tourism agencies to provide more information at 39 tourist attractions on twelve routes located across the state.

In 2010, the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) received a $220,000 National Scenic Byway grant from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for development of the Kansas Byways Interpretive Plan. Using this funding, Fermata, Inc. of Austin, TX began collecting the historical information & developed the storylines for the project.

In 2015, RDG Planning and Design of Omaha, NE began the design phase and, once finished, general contractor GSR Construction, Inc. of Lawrence, KS started working on the construction of the project. WaKeeney’s Travel and Tourism Director Cathy Albert gathered the stories and images included on the panels and in November 2018 the finished panels were installed at points of interest along the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway.

Smoky Valley Scenic Byway Highway Sign

The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway 

Exploring the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway is now easier than ever! The 60-mile, U-shaped loop is one of the easiest routes included in the Kansas byways’ system. With starting points at either Exit 127 in WaKeeney or at Ogallah, Exit 135. If you begin your journey in WaKeeney, we recommend starting at the F-14 Jet in Eisenhower Park, where you’ll find three signs that tell the story of WaKeeney and Trego County.

Interpretive Sign, Eisenhower Park, F-14 Jet

Interpretive Sign, Eisenhower Park, F-14 Jet

Traveling Through the Smoky Valley

For over a hundred years people have been traveling through the Smoky Valley. Early trails brought settlers to our prairies and a few decades later the American love of the road got them out on the highways that followed those same routes.  In 1956, Kansas native President Dwight D. Eisenhower directed his engineers to route his massive interstate project through the Smoky Valley, and, today, I-70 brings people from all over the world to Trego County.

Trego - Interapretive Signs3Interpretive Sign, Eisenhower Park, F-14 Jet

Settling the Western Smoky Valley and the “Queen City of the High Plains”

Before WaKeeney was the “Christmas City of the High Plains” it wore the crown of a queen. Originally assigned the moniker of “Queen City of the High Plains,” WaKeeney began as a frontier town in 1878 and soon grew to be a center of trade in our county. All this information and much more is detailed on the panel entitled “Settling the Western Smoky Valley.”

Trego - Interprative Signs5Interpretive Sign, Eisenhower Park, F-14 Jet

 “The Earth Provides Shelter and Beauty”

Ingenuity has always been a part of the history of the Smoky Valley. Evidence of this is found in the beautiful creamy-white limestone buildings that dot our landscape. Using rock cut from local quarries, our founding fathers created the churches, schools, and civic and government buildings that were the anchors of Trego County communities. Find out more about the sturdy construction and quality materials that were created by these innovative builders on the “Stone Buildings” interpretative panel.

 

Kiosk, 12 miles south of WaKeeney on Hwy 283

The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway 

The kiosk located 12-miles south of WaKeeney on Hwy. 283 features a double-sided informative panel. It features facts and images about the natural beauty you’ll find along the landscape, as well as a replica of a Butterfield Overland Despatch marker. The original markers helped to guide the earliest travelers along a pioneer trail. 

 

Interpretive Signs, Cedar Bluff Reservoir, South of Smoky Hill River Bridge

Cedar Bluff Reservoir and State Park

A favorite stop along the byway is Cedar Bluff Reservoir and State Park. The reservoir and its dam were constructed in 1949 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to provide water for flood control, irrigation, and the region’s water supply, as well as for recreation. Throughout the decades it has become a natural wildlife reserve and popular playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Three interpretative panels placed in the parking area south of Smoky Hill River Bridge tell the story of Cedar Bluff and include a map of the many inlets where camping, fishing, and water sports are enjoyed.

SVSB Kiosk Attractions

The Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

Planning Your Trip on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway

Take a trip on the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway and look for our new interpretive signs to learn more about Western Kansas and the history of Trego County!

If you begin your journey in WaKeeney we recommend starting at

  1. F-14 Jet in Eisenhower Park.
  2. Go South 12 miles on Hwy. 283 to the kiosk.
  3. Continue South 14 miles to Hwy. 4 at Ransom.
  4. Turn East and travel 9-miles on Hwy. 4 to Brownell.
  5. Travel North 10-miles on Hwy. 147 to Cedar Bluff Reservoir.
  6. Continue traveling North on Hwy. 147 for 16-miles to end at I-70 in Ogallah, Exit 135.

Each sign provides directions along the route where you can stop and enjoy the wonders of nature, historical sites, and geological wonders of the Smoky Valley Scenic Byway.

Championship Fun with the Trego Recreation Center

Warmer months are on the way and now is the perfect time to make your plans to get out of the house and enjoy the sunshine! The Trego Recreation Center (TRC) has you covered with events and activities for everyone.

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Pickleball Spring Round Robin Tournament ’19

Reserve your spot in the 2019 Pickleball Spring Round Robin Tournament. Registration begins on March 1st and all players are responsible for scheduling their matches. The tournament comes to a conclusion on March 31st and each match will consist of 3 games.

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Father Daughter Dance

Dance the afternoon away with your favorite girls at the 2019 Father Daughter Dance on Sunday, April 14th. This annual event will be hosted at the site of the Trego Community High School prom, where the decorations from that night will be decorating our dance floor. Dads or another special person may accompany the girls and the event will include snacks, dancing, and photos (2 – 4×6” included, plus other options available for purchase). Sign up by April 5 to reserve your spot, but don’t wait! This event is very popular.

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Annual Easter Egg Hunt 

The Easter Bunny will be hopping into WaKeeney on Saturday, April 20th for the TRC’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt! Groups will be organized by age so every tyke can gather a few of the candy-filled Easter eggs. Bring your children and their sweet tooth for a fun family event.

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MLB Pitch, Hit & Run 2019 

Get game ready for your summer ball team at the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run 2019 tournament. Compete in Sectionals, Regionals and maybe even the MLB All-Star Week! It’s a free competition and a very popular event, so be sure to register for the April 27th event. The tournament will be held at 10:30 AM at the South Ball Park and registration is open on April 26th.

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T-Ball & Coach Pitch 2019

Pint-sized ball players will want to sign up for TRC’s T-Ball & Coach Pitch 2019. All games are held in WaKeeney and scrimmage between local teams will help develop the benefits and intricacies of the game. Coach Pitch teams may travel to play teams outside the WaKeeney leagues and all games will be scheduled through the Trego Recreation Commission. Practice will begin in May and run until June.

Trego - Trego Rec Ctr3 

Summer Baseball, Softball, and T-ball Teams

Take your team out to the ball field all summer long for great competitive baseball and softball! The games are a WaKeeney summer tradition that brings our community out to watch the local stars compete for their team’s trophy. The sport teaches the fundamental skills of baseball and softball, team play, and sportsmanship. Practice games begin in May, with traveling games occurring from June to mid-July.

Trego - Rec Cntr._Chip Griffin

Photo by Chip Griffen

Summer Soccer

Kids K-6th grade are invited to join TRC’s Spring soccer team to improve physical activity, improve coordination, and have fun! Learn the elements of the game and coordinating with other team members in this coed travel league. Games against Quinter, Grinnell, and Hoxie are tentatively scheduled for April 22, 29, and May 4th, with more details to come.

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Pee Wee Track Meet

Calling all mini track stars to the Pee Wee Track Meet 2019! The meet will be divided into two groups, preschoolers to 2nd grade and 3rd to 6th grade. Traditional track events will be featured, giving the kids a chance to sample various types of competition and participation ribbons will be awarded. Registration ends on April 26th and the track meet is scheduled for May 8th.

Trego - Spring Rec6.jpeg 

Horseshoes & Washers Tournament

Cap off a summer of outdoor sports during fair week! Following on the heels of the Trego County Parade TRC will be hosting its annual Horseshoes and Washers. Go up against lifelong players to see how you compare. (More information will follow as details become available.)

Trego - Rec Cntr.

Summer Camps and Activities

The Trego Recreation Center are busy planning a summer full of fun camps and activities to keep you and your youngsters active and having fun. Look for more information to come on arts and crafts events, more sporting events, and much, much more!

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Gear Up and Get Outside!

The Trego Recreation Center’s Spring and Summer schedule is filled with activities for an action packed season. For more information on how you can get involved in any of these fun activities call the TRC (785.743.2595) or check their website or Facebook page for more information.

Taking the “Christmas City of the High Plains” Into the Future

The work is already underway to install new LED Color-Changing Lights from Inception Lighting along the buildings of Downtown WaKeeney and soon our famous Christmas Festival will be brighter than ever, thanks to those who have contributed to the “Get Lit” campaign!

Christmas in July

Fundraising Efforts Turn on the Lights in Downtown WaKeeney

Through continued fundraising efforts, several generous donations from local citizens and businesses, sales of our campaign t-shirts and a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, these new LED Color-Changing Lights will be ready to light up the “Christmas City of the High Plains” in just a few short weeks from now! The City of WaKeeney is donating the labor to install the lights as well as the utility costs and Nex-Tech has donated the monthly WiFi fee to operate the lights. They are a welcome addition to the historic decorations featured in our famous holiday display, with color versatility and cost advantages that will go on throughout the year.

WaKeeney's Get Lit Campaing

Photo courtesy of Inception Lighting

Beauty and Benefits Added to Our Christmas Lights

The addition of the lights represents a new step in the history of holiday decorating in Downtown WaKeeney. New LED technologies provide benefits unimaginable in the early days of our Christmas Festival when Art Kraus and Jake Heckman hand-built the wreaths, bells, and stars wood cutouts that hang from the garlands strung across Main Street and Russell Avenue.

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Along with beauty and flexibility, these lights are easy to install, operate, and maintain, with lower overall costs for our community. The entire system is guaranteed to last for up to ten years and we’re expecting the overall cost savings will be in the thousands of dollars, with an estimated yearly utility bill of only $300!

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The Season of Giving Has Already Begun

Thank you to all the people, businesses, Nex-Tech, and the City of WaKeeney for donating their time and money to this effort to light up Downtown WaKeeney!

Get Lit Weber Girls

There is still time to contribute to this community cause. A Go Fund Me  pagehas been set up for online contributions and the “Get Lit” shirts are available for purchase at The Studio 128 (128 Main St.) and Heartland Foods (401 Russell Ave). And, just like our famous Christmas lights, they come in six colors—red, green, yellow, grey, royal blue, and purple. They have the “Christmas City of the High Plains” logo on the front, and the “Get Lit” logo on the back and sell for $12 in S-XL and $15 for 2X.

Join us at the Dedication Ceremony When We Turn on the Lights!

Installation of the LED lights will take several weeks and plans are already set to turn the lights on as soon as they are done. We invite you to join us at the dedication ceremony scheduled for Saturday, November 24, 2018, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, at our“68th Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.” It’s the perfect time to show our gratitude to all the fabulous people who have made this next step in our holiday celebration possible.