Sunday, September 27, 2009

From Farmer's Market to Scottish Festival to Corn Maze in One Weekend

Let's face it - I needed to get out of town for the weekend, and my sister Sue was bored and wanted somebody to do something with.  So on Friday evening, September 25th, I headed to Salina for a weekend of seeing what we could find to entertain ourselves.  We ended up with no less than eight really cool things. 

But then, we are easy to entertain!

(1) First on the weekend agenda:  get up early on Saturday morning, September 26th, and visit Salina's Farmer's Market on its second-to-last weekend for the year.  Really fresh vegetables at a reasonable price were nothing to sneeze at - nor were the steaks, pork chops, and watermelon.  A good time was had by all; so much we went home to deposit our booty and came right back for more!

(2) Then it was 9:00AM and time to hit the annual book sale at the Salina Public Library.  I came away with everything from Reader's Digest: Great Biographies to Old Santa Fe: The History of New Mexico's Ancient Capital to The Egyptian Book of the Dead.  The last is everything you ever imagined it to be.

(3) To the west of Salina the cowtown of Ellsworth was throwing a Cowtown Festival, which sounded like it might be worth a visit.  We arrived in town at 12:10PM and decided that we had best eat first and then tackle the Festival.  So we headed for KC's Cafe on the north end of Ellsworth, across from the state penitentiary.  As we parked the car the bear of a cook came out the front door, glared at us, spit into an old coal bin by the side of the door, and disappeared back inside.  You gotta admit, the place was already showing plenty of atmosphere in terms of location and colorful characters.

And then the food!  Sue ordered a hot ham sandwich, and it was no thin slivers of ham, but hot, succulent hunks that I was enviously told did indeed taste evenl better than it looked and smelled.  Myself I ordered the buffalo burger and fries, and did my very best to devour them as fast as I could.  The bear of a cook needn't continue to glare at us from the kitchen as he did indeed continue to do; we were won over.  Attention, all Kansas Explorer Club members:  KC's Cafe, open Tuesday thru Saturday 7AM-2PM & 5PM-9PM, and Sundays 7AM-2PM.  Try it.  You WILL like it.

(4) After that satisfying lunch we figuring on heading downtown and taking in a few of the no doubt many Festival events, only to discover that there were virtually no major events scheduled from noon through 3:00PM.  Sigh.  So following a jaunt through the Ellsworth Antique Mall  and a couple of other Explorer-type haunts we folded back into the car and started back east to Salina on Kansas Highway 140.

(5) Only to discover along the way something to soothe our disappointed Explorer souls - several llamas enjoying an nice day at a farm pond and dam.   Still an odd site in the Sunflower State, the llamas had to share the pasture with a burro that lay curled and contented on the far side of the pond to the left in both of the above pictures.


(6) The day was not over, as we later headed for supper at Salina's Napoli's Italian Restaurant on South Ohio Street.  Really fresh rolls, pasta, Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin crooning in the background.  Highly recommended!

(7) Then it was up again on Sunday, September 27th, and with my niece Katie in tow with us, we took a drive south on Interstate 35 to McPherson for the annual Scottish Festival, often reported to be one of the top 100 small town events in all of America.  It was a perfect day to take in the sights and the ongoing Highland Games.   The two competitors above were trying to heave an iron ball over the high bar. 

Later the McPherson Pipes Band paraded on the Parade Ground to the delight of the crowd. 

They were followed by the annual Dogs on Parade.  If you had a dog, you got to show it off.

Being a true Explorer, I took it upon myself to try a Haggis Pup - a sausage made from the official food of Scotland. 

Okay, so after two or three chews I was considering that this might NOT have been the best choice to make . . . but I persevered and can now say that I have tried it!

We then viewed the sheep dog demonstrations, took in the many Scottish & Irish clan genealogy booths, spent some time perusing the vendor tents, ate homemade ice cream & shepherd's pie, and then it was back to the Highland Games and the Tossing of the Caber.  Just getting it balanced, as the guy in the photo above demonstrated, seemed to no small feat in itself.

This competitor flung the Caber fairly well . . . .

But this competitor really flung the Caber!  The winner!

There was a concert by the McPherson Pipes Band with some members of the Wichita Caledonian Pipes Band to take in before we called it a day and started back north.

(8) But we weren't done yet!  At Bridgeport we forsook the Interstate and turned onto rock roads to find the Smoky Hill Bison Company, who had a full Fall Family Adventure setup going.  The first thing for us to do was to brave the Great Corn Maze.  There were ten Stops inside, at which if you had your cell phone with you, you could call for hints.  Somehow we went from Stop 1 to Stop 3 without ever finding Stop 2, but with only 8 or 9 dead ends we managed to traverse the entitre course (without cheating!) in about 25 minutes. 

(8) Then it was time to try the Zip Chute, just a short swing across a gully.  Sue went first, and then I somehow worked my way into the harness and took off.  Fun, fun, fun.  Katie followed and all were satisfied with a great day and a great weekend of finding lots to do in Rural Kansas!