OPINION

TRUE STORIES: Little Balkans Days are back. Hooray

J.T. Knoll
news@morningsun.net

Due to a rain-soaked Lincoln Park in 2019, the Little Balkans Days Folklife Festival’s vendors and music were moved to the asphalt circling the softball fields. Last year Covid canceled the whole shebang — so I’m looking forward, this year, to again being music stage emcee on the grass below a cathedral dome of old-growth trees.

Beginning at 9 a.m. and ending the last act going on at 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 4th, we’ll have bagpipes (Orin Weiss), a brass quintet (Todd Hastings & Co.), coal mining and local history songs (Holly Swigart), Kansas City, Kansas Polka (The Baric Brothers & George Barberich), country/rock (Stone Country), European folk and circle dances (Kolograd), poetry, storytelling and folk (White Buffalo), and traditional bluegrass (Neosho River Boys).

As part of my master of ceremonies duties on the performance stage in Lincoln Park, I always play “Who Wants To Win A Loaf Of Hard Crust Bread” with the audience.

Audience members were asked in the past to think up an alternate use for a loaf of unsliced Frontenac Bakery Italian Hard Crust Bread. Suggestions were: doorstop; washboard; football; paperweight; callus remover; cheese grater; footstool; lumbar support; paint scraper; speed bump; and, last but not least, BP offshore oil well plug.

To win a loaf you have to solve a riddle or get the correct answer on a local history question. As in: What to you call a Catholic priest who’s also a lawyer? And: In 1902, a temperance collective named what Little Balkans city the “Sodom of Southeast Kansas”? a) Frontenac; b) Arma; c) Chicopee; d) Pittsburg. Answers below.

More music Saturday night. At 11th and Broadway on Saturday, Pittsburg’s own J-3 Band will play 6:30 - 7:30, followed by A.J. Croce who will play his own originals and cover classics by his father, Jim Croce.

Following that, the live music crawl returns this year from 10:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. Local bands will be rocking at 5th Street Bar & Grill, Bubba’s 311, Chatters, Jimmy B’s, Main Street Axe Company, The Dirty Mule, The Pitt, Shooters and T.J. Lelands.

If you’d like to learn some local music history, I’ll be presenting September 1st at 7 p.m. at Block 22 downtown. It’s the presentation I did at Miner’s Hall Museum on local city, polka and dance bands and nightspots — along with a look at the big name touring orchestras that came through Southeast Kansas to play the Tower, Trianon and Gay Parita ballrooms. NOTE: Seating is limited due to Covid restrictions so come early.

Speaking of Miner’s Hall Museum, from 6 – 8 p.m. on Tuesday, August 31st, they will be hosting an open house and tour of the turn of the century Miners House (restoration in progress). There’s a marvelous Amazon Army Centennial Exhibit to check out inside - or you can learn to play croquet and bocci (Italian lawn bowling) on the grass out front. Last but not least, take a ride with George Weeks in his restored 1929 Ford Model A. All the while being serenaded by Gene Corsini on accordion.

To go back even further in time, check out the events at the Crawford Co. Historical Museum. From 7-8 p.m. on Friday, September 3rd, they will host the Civil War Living History Candlelight Camp Tour. On Saturday, they will have Civil War battle reenactments at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. along with demonstrations of period activities throughout the day. On Sunday you can visit the museum proper with its many exhibits pertaining to Crawford County.

For more past perspectives, attend the Downtown Historical Walking Tour on which you can stroll through history from 1st and Broadway to 7th and Broadway and learn the history and significance of various personalities and buildings. It’s 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 2nd.

This year will also feature the return of the bus shuttle, with expanded routes to Pittsburg High School and local motels. Saturday only.

SATURDAY BUS SHUTTLE SCHEDULE Note: All bus riders are required to wear masks by Dept. of Transportation.

DAY ROUTES 8:30 AM – 6 PM • One bus will travel alternately to the motels on either end of town, Crawford Co. Museum, Memorial Auditorium (quilt show), Farmer’s Market and Lincoln Park. – Approximately every 45 minutes. • One bus will travel route of Pittsburg High School (starting at 10 AM) to Memorial Auditorium (quilt show), Farmer’s Market and Lincoln Park – Approximately every 30 minutes. • One bus will travel route of Farmer’s Market, Memorial Auditorium (quilt show) and Lincoln Park – Approximately very 20 minutes.

MUSIC CRAWL 6 PM - 2:30 AM Note:  Bus will travel between music venues mentioned above in a 45 – 60 minute loop. You can phone 620-433-1083 to access driver with bus current location and estimated time of arrival at your venue on the route. 

IMPORTANT - PLEASE READ In keeping with the CDC and local health department guidelines, masks and social distancing will be required for individuals - or groups of individuals who are together - at all indoor events, regardless of vaccination status. Masks and hand sanitizer will be provided. Please help us keep the community safe.

That's it for today. There’s much more happening than I can write about in one column. For the full spectrum of activities and events, see the LBD website https://littlebalkansfestival.com/.

Answers to hard crust bread riddle and quiz above: Father-in-law; d) Pittsburg

J.T. Knoll is a writer, speaker and eulogist. He also operates Knoll Training & Consulting in Pittsburg. He can be reached at 231-0499 or jtknoll@swbell.net