Greensburg opened its doors to Big Kansas Road Trip participants and gained underestimated benefits in the process.
Depending where one was this past weekend in Greensburg, it was likely there were more people in town than usual as Kiowa County was a destination county on the first ever Big Kansas Road Trip. Not knowing what to expect on the part of local business owners was the norm, but for most it turned out to be a pleasant experience.
“Thursday wasn’t bad, but Friday, Saturday and Sunday we constantly had people coming in and out,” said Marj Schmidt, Big Well Museum employee. “We had close to 100 people each day, when normally we have 10 to 20. We had really good crowds.”
Schmidt said the most enjoyable part of the weekend was just visiting with the people who came through.
“It was fun,” she said. “We had people from all over, most were from Kansas but there were some from Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado. I did notice that.”
The Big Kansas Road Trip was designed so that participants could set their own schedule and go where they wanted, when they wanted. There were a few specified times at certain locations where stump speeches were given, but for the most part destinations in a tri-county area (Kiowa, Barber and Comanche) were set up to be open for visitation for an extended period of time.
“I heard a lot of visitors discussing where they had been and where they wanted to go,” Schmidt said. “A lot of them made a big loop around the area. They were very interested in telling their experiences. A lot of them went to Wilmore to ride the old carousel, many of them took the scenic route through the Gyp Hills to Medicine Lodge and there were quite a few who made the stop at Big Round Barn near Mullinville.”
Crowds ranged from 60+ years in age on Thursday and Friday, to families and others of all ages, particularly on Saturday and Sunday.
“I think everyone had a great time,” Schmidt said. “The weather was beautiful and it was just a fantastic weekend.”
Schmidt said the Big Kansas Road Trip t-shirts were a hot-selling item, along with wooden ornaments and magnets with Big Well information on them.
Ice cream was a hot-seller at the Kiowa County Historical Museum, where the population picked up quite a bit more than usual as history buffs came in seeking information and a place to cool off.
“It was very crazy in here most of the weekend,” said museum worker Heather Coyne. “This is definitely the best weekend we have ever had here in the history of our inception. We were constantly handing orders and serving customers.”
Coyne said a good crowd was on hand for the book signing at the museum on Friday, and prior to that, a reception for tour professional on Thursday also filled the building. In addition to tourist traffic, Coyne said a lot of locals came in to get a look around at things they might not have known existed there because of the publicity from the Big Kansas Road Trip.
Outside traffic was quieter at the Kiowa County Senior Center where locals were prepared to serve snacks and cool drinks as well as offer games and crafts.
“We only had our own people show up, but we had such an awesome day of activities, it was so much fun,” said Kari Kyle, Kiowa County Senior Center director. “We had a good time making hand and foot sugar scrub jars for Mother’s Day gifts and enjoying our own snacks.”
The Big Kansas Road Trip may not have been what everyone expected it to be, but for most of Greensburg and Kiowa County, it was a chance to show off local treasures and share the good secrets of life in southwestern Kansas.