Trail listed in ‘8 Wonders customs’ vote

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

INMAN — The Prairie Spirit Trail, a hiking and biking trail spanning 51 miles from Iola to Ottawa, is being recognized as one of the potential “8 Wonders of Kansas Customs.”
The trail’s inclusion as one of 24 finalists was announced Thursday by the Kansas Sampler Foundation.
The customs finalists are listed as an action phrase followed by the place where the custom is uniquely expressed, explained Marci Penner, Kansas Sampler Foundation director.
The trail is listed as “converting rails to trails.”
The Prairie Spirit Trail was the first in the state to convert a railroad corridor — the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway — into a hiking and biking path.
A public vote will determine which eight customs will receive the “8 Wonders” designation. People are encouraged to vote online at www.8wond-ers.org or by calling (620) 585-2374 for a ballot.
Jana Taylor, executive director of the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce, said she plans to have ballots available at a number of locations around town.
Voting runs through midnight Oct. 20. The top eight finalists will be announced before the end of October.
Rather than consider the vote a competition, Penner said the 8 Wonders promotion is designed as an educational tool.
“These contests are set up as tools of education,” she continued. “Whether you win or not — and it’d be terrific if you do win — it’s just a great way to dispel the myth that Kansas has nothing to offer.”
The other customs finalists are:
“Bringing musicians together,” the Emma Chase Cafe in Cottonwood Falls, “building wide main streets,” noting Main Street in Plains is the widest in the United States; “chanting a school fight song,” the University of Kansas’ famed “Rock Chalk” chant; “checking the weather,” Harper’s red fish weather vane at the top of the city water tower; “clicking your heels together three times and saying ‘there’s no place like home,’” Oz attractions in Wamego and Liberal; “commemorating Veterans Day,” which was first celebrated in Emporia; “connecting underground businesses,” the Underground Tunnels of Ellinwood; “cruising Main,” at Blue Rapids, which has the only round town square in the state; “displaying an ethnic handicraft,” Dala horses on display in Lindsborg; “eating dinner prior to watching community theater” at the country’s oldest dinner theater at the Topeka Civic Theatre; “ordering a soda fountain treat” at 37 operating soda fountains in the state, including one at Cardinal Drug Store in Chanute; “putting shoes on a tree,” on a giant cottonwood tree near Wetmore; “racing greyhounds” at the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene; “racing motorcycles” at the Kansas Motorcycle Museum in Marquette; “racing on a dirt track” at the High Banks Hall of Fame and National Midget Auto Racing Museum in Belleville; “reciting and chanting the Psalms” at St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison; “recognizing those who came in second” at the They Also Ran Gallery in Norton; “riding a carousel” at the C.W. Parker carousels in Abilene and Leavenworth; “saving a seat” at the Kearn Auction House in Concordia; “saving twine” at the world’s largest ball of sisal twine in Cawker City; “swimming in the summer” at the state’s oldest and largest hand-dug swimming pool in Garden City; “using natural material as fencing” at the Post Rock Museum in Lacrosse; and “walking to school” between Franklin and Arma in Crawford County, the longest sidewalk to connect two towns in the United States.
The Kansas Sampler Foundation has sponsored a number of “8 Wonders” contests since 2007, when the original 8 Wonders of Kansas were determined.
Since then, the state has offered contests designating the state’s eight wonders of architecture, art, commerce and cuisine. Other contests celebrating the state’s geography, history and people will be showcased later, Penner said.
“We hope people will use this beautiful fall weather to go visit each of the 24 finalists, including the 37 soda fountains,” Penner said. “They’ll get to know Kansas from a new perspective if they do.”