From a historic perspective, it was the first city in Kansas.
From a historic perspective, it was the first city in Kansas.
But it shouldn't be the last place you consider when it comes to planning a weekend getaway this summer.
Earlier this week, a business meeting caused this travel columnist to venture north on the Frontier Military Scenic Byway to Leavenworth ... a place where the brand image should be “Leavenworth: Come stay with us, for awhile ...”
It's not the brand image, but I had to work one bad pun into this column in reference to the well-known prison located there.
Instead, a visit to the historic and attractive downtown allowed me to find one treasure of an attraction.
Nestled quietly on the east side of downtown at 320 South Esplanade near the Missouri River that separates the Sunflower State from the Show-Me State is the C.W. Parker Carousel Museum.
A little background on C.W. Parker: Charles Wallace Parker was the largest manufacturer of carousels and amusement rides in the world and was known as the “Carnival King.” He began his business in 1892 in Abilene and moved it to Leavenworth in 1910.
His company built everything from carousels to shooting galleries, carnival show fronts, Ferris wheels, carnival railroad cars, steam power units and other equipment needed for carnival operation.
At one time, Parker had four carnival trains operating in the United States.
After he passed away in 1932, his son Paul continued the operation until 1955 when he closed the factory.
In 2005, the museum was opened to document the history of the C.W. Parker Carousel Factory.
The museum features an operational 1913 Parker Carousel No. 118, the same carousel that holds the world record for the most riders during a 24-hour period.
In 1925, Parker's Carry-Us-All No. 118 gave a ride to 16,880 riders in 18 hours.
Of course, as museum curator Jerry Reinhardt pointed out, back then the carousel operated continuously and riders had to load and unload while the carousel was in motion.
Perhaps one the most unique exhibits at the museum is the world's oldest operational carousel, The Primitive, believed to have been built in 1850. Reinhardt noted there are older carousels in existence, but The Primitive is the oldest “still operational” carousel.
A fun ride on the No. 118 marked my first ride on a carousel since I was a kid and rode the old carousel located inside Riverside Park in Independence next to the Ralph Mitchell Zoo.
And the looks on the faces from other tourism counterparts from across Kansas told the entire story; it was a step back to when we were all kids.
To visit the C.W. Parker Museum, the hours are Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday's are 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
On my next visit, after getting dizzy on the No. 118, it will be followed by a trip to the High Noon Saloon and Brewery, which I managed to miss earlier this week.
8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine
The Crawford County Fried Chicken restaurants still need your votes.
The 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine Contest continues to accept online votes and paper ballots through June 15.
All six fried chicken restaurants in Crawford County – Chicken Annie’s, Chicken Mary’s, Gebhardt’s Chicken Dinners, Barto’s Idle Hour, Girard Chicken Annie’s and Pichler’s Chicken Annie’s – need your support and your vote to earn a spot as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine.
You can vote online at www.8wonders.org up to three times per e-mail address (and you must vote for eight entries for your vote to count) or you can vote by paper ballot.
Paper ballots are available at all six fried chicken restaurants in Crawford County or at the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau office located inside the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, 117 West Fourth Street, Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Speaking of cuisine...
The Kansas Sampler Foundation issued a small challenge when it announced the 8 Wonders of Kansas Cuisine finalists, who could be the first person to eat at all 24 finalists during the contest?
Well, with a little more than three weeks left in the contest, here's where this travel columnist has been able to dine since the start of the contest:
• All six Crawford County Fried Chicken restaurants (the easiest to achieve of the entire list although it required six different days to complete one entry).
• Josie's Ristorante, Scammon (another close trip to complete).
• The Prairie Nut Hut, Altoona (tasty).
• The Cozy Inn, Salina (you have to love the Sliders at this 87-year-old gem).
• The Brookville Hotel, Abilene.
And the most recent experience ...
• Homer's Drive-In, Leavenworth.
The cheeseburger was excellent (two large patties overloading a five-inch bun), the old fashion soda fountain (with chocolate, vanilla cherry and strawberry) was cool and the milkshakes were better.
Established by Homer McKelvey in 1931 when he served nickel mugs of root beer from a wooden stand, the current building was built in 1938 and features tons of Coca-Cola memorabilia and has the feel of the old throwback diners of yesterday. Even the price seemed to be from days gone by.
A great weather forecast should favor local teams en route to the state track and field meet (Wichita), and state softball and baseball tournaments (Salina, Manhattan and Emporia).
In the meantime, be sure to get out and about and enjoy these events this weekend and on into next week in Crawford County:
• Today, the Jody Phillips Dance Company will present “We Will Rock U” at 6 p.m. at Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are available for $8. For more information, contact Memorial Auditorium at 231-7827 or log onto www.memorialauditorium.org.
• Saturday, the 8th annual Alzheimer Memory Walk will be held at 9:30 a.m. at Immigrant Park. For more information, contact Lynette Emerson at (620) 757-9955.
• Sunday, the second stop in the Battle for the Cup skateboard competition series will be held at Pitt Skate inside of Schlanger Park, 725 East 6th Street in Pittsburg. Sign ups will be held from 10 a.m. to noon, entry fee is $10 per contest with the third and final leg of the series set for June 27 in Neosho. For more information, contact Tom Walters at (417) 499-2760 or Gary Crissman at 704-3739.
• Tuesday, Pittsburg Community Art Night sponsored by Pittsburg Art Supply will be held from 7 p.m.-9:30 p.m. at Starbucks, 2828 North Broadway. Featured performers include music by Holly Reed and art by Alysha Pozkum, Nora Madden and Sara Tomassi. For information, contact Seth Tomassi at 230-0419.
• Today, the Crawford County Relay for Life will take place from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Hutchinson Field. For more information, contact Kim Vogel at 231-8310 or log onto www.relayforlife.org/crawfordcoks.
Craig Hull is the director of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau. It is the purpose of the Crawford County Convention and Visitors Bureau to promote travel and tourism in Crawford County, Southeast Kansas and the Midwest. He can be reached at email@example.com or at 1-800-879-1112.