Category: Liberal


International Pancake Race

A tradition since 1950, the International running of the Pancake Race has become a symbolic event of peace and unity between the Untied States and England.

Pancake Day is always on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Some people refer to it as “Fat Tuesday.” It is a centuries-old traditional holiday.

In Old England it was customary for the housewives to drop whatever they were doing and hurry to the church at the tolling of the bell to be “Shriven” for their sins.

In 1445, a housewife in Olney, England started baking her pancakes rather late. They were not quite finished when the church bell rang.

Not wishing to leave her pancakes to burn, she hurried to the “shriving” carrying her griddle and the pancakes with her. This led to the annual sporting event in England.

In Liberal, Kansas, USA, we heard of this 500 year event of pancake racing over a 415 yard course from the “town pump” to the church when a World War II American soldier from Liberal met a soldier from Olney.

The event was brought to Liberal, and in 1950 the international challenge was accepted by Reverend Ronald Collins, Vicar of Olney.

In the running of the International Pancake Day Race, times of the winners in both Olney and Liberal are compared by Trans-Atlantic telephone and an international winner is declared.

Over the years a three-day celebration has grown up around the event in Liberal. A concert, amateur talent show, pancake eating contest, parade, community pancake breakfast, Kids races, Men’s Pacer race, International Pancake Race, receptions and other special events provide for a full schedule during the celebration. It has been suggested that perhaps the Pancake Race with women of Olney has established a grassroots international understanding between people of the two countries. This might never have been possible to accomplish over the conference table at top-level diplomatic sessions…

As someone in England said, “Long may the race flourish as a relic of simple enjoyment from our colorful and robust past in this sophisticated and somewhat grim atomic age.”

It is customary for Liberal and Olney to send dignitaries to each country, so that an official representative is present at the race. At the end of the race, the dignitary congratulates the race winner with the Kiss of Peace.

The Pancake Race begins at the intersection of Sixth street and Kansas Avenue and finishes at the intersection of Third Street and Lincoln Avenue.

Arkalon Park

Travelers on U.S. Highway 54, struck by the round horizon and massive skyscapes, would be surprised to find a series of ponds, streams, marshland and groves of cottonwood trees just north of the straight path they drive.rnYet such a place exists, nestled in an area of canyons and hills north of the highway.

Its Arkalon Park, home to a variety of wildlife, the favorite haunt of local fishermen, and a welcome shady spot for campers and picnickers. Located 10 miles northeast of Liberal, Arkalon is a project that will always be in progress. The Arkalon Council continues to improve on the overall quality of the community’s park system.

At present, there are three lakes and a marsh area. All of the fishing areas have been stocked, mainly with catfish. Visitors to the area are also likely to find an unusual variety of birds. Arkalon provides a permanent home to a gaggle of approximately 40 Canada geese, along with many stopover geese – wild ones that come and go, along with many other water birds that stop along their annual migrations.

Several nature trails wind through the marsh area, providing visitors with an opportunity to sight beaver, deer, kingfishers, turtles, snakes, squirrels, and raccoon. Bird watchers frequently sight a spectrum of species, from bluebirds to falcons, and the foliage is equally diverse. Markers identify many of the unusual trees and shrubs, and benches offer hikers a spot to sit and take in the natural beauty of the scene.

Arkalon provides a place where a family can get away from town and take the kids out to a picnic or just feed the geese. There are electrical hookups in the campground area, a bath house, and RV dump station, and a shelter facility.rn

Liberal Bee Jays

Enjoy an evening at the ballpark with the future pros as the Liberal Bee Jays take to the diamond. The Liberal Bee Jays baseball team is an all-star cast of collegiate athletics practicing their skill in the competitive Jayhawk Conference. Many past Bee Jays, like Doug Drebek, David Segui, Troy Percival, Tom Pagnozzi, just to name a few, have gone on to All-Star careers in the Major Leagues.

The Bee Jays play at Brent Gould Field, located on the Seward County Community College campus. On the Fourth of July, a special homestand celebration, the Bee Jays move to the Fairgrounds Park located on the Seward County Fairgrounds. Bring the entire family and join the Bee Jays for an action-packed night of baseball. We hope to see you there!rn

Rock Island Depot

In April, 1888, the first train with goods other than construction materials arrived at the end of the new Rock Island line in Liberal, Kansas.

The depot, a crumbling relic just three years ago, was rescued and refurbished with a combination of funding from the city and state, private contributions, and a lot of hard work. With the first building completed, efforts continue to finish the eastern building, which once housed a hotel and restaurant.

For now, several city offices, including that of the director of community development and chamber of commerce, have found homes in the western building.

The newly restored depot is listed on the National Register for Historic Landmarks and is the central theme of the annual Rock Island Jubilee in June.

Mighty Samson

The Samson Bridge was erected in 1939, by the railroads to cross the Cimarron River. It was built three miles east of Arkalon as a potential railroad crossing. When the original railroad crossing at Arkalon was flooded, the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska railway diverted the railroad track to the Samson Bridge. The Bridge helped speed the commerce of the Southwest to its destination. Called the Samson of the Cimarron, the Mighty Samson is 1,268 feet long and was considered an engineering marvel of the day.

Baker Arts Center

Known as a “cultural oasis on the prairie”, the Baker Arts Center is an art education facility which promotes the arts in Southwest Kansas. A 5000 square foot three level handicap accessible building is the former home of Irene Dillon and Francis Marion Baker.

The Baker Arts Center offers a visual art exhibit that features national traveling exhibits, local one-artist shows, an annual juried art show, works from area high schools, and pieces from its own collection. Included in these exhibits have been pieces ranging from oil, acrylic and watercolor paintings, to sculptures, photography, quilt displays, handmade jewelry, woodworking, glassworks, and collages. A workshop area, a Discovery Center for kids, the Baker Memorial Room, a Library and a Sales Gallery, all make the Baker Center a delightful place to experience.


Coronado Museum

The Coronado Museum is housed in a landmark structure originally built in 1918 as the residence of the Lee Larrabee family. The building retains the warmth and style of an early Western home. Oak staircases, paneled walls and floors add an unusual charm to the treasures of the people who settled Seward County, Kansas.

In keeping with its affiliation with the Seward County Historical Society, the museum features both items that helped to settle the territory during its Wild West heyday, including an extensive weapons display and a large collection of those things that gave it a more civilized tone, including a beautifully restored ornate antique organ, quilts and home furnishings.

A Western Gallery, with photos of ranch life and frontier settlers, tells the story of the taming of the land. In 1996, the museum opened a western living exhibit, featuring artifacts and a recreation of what Seward County might have been like in its early days.

Mid-America Air Museum

With more than 90 aircraft on display, the Mid-America Air Museum in Liberal, Kansas, is one of the largest aviation museums in the United States. Whether you are interested in general aviation, classic planes, home builts, warbirds, or modern jets, there\’s something to spark your imagination at the museum. Highlights of the collection include the Cessna Airmaster owned by Dwane Wallace, long-time president of Cessna Aircraft and a Beech Model 17 Staggerwing. Military airplanes include a World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber, a Korean War veteran F-80 Shooting Star, and an F-14A Tomcat used during Desert Storm.

Hands-on exhibits demonstrate how and why airplanes fly. Launch a hot air balloon. Unlock the mysteries of lift using a wind tunnel. Study the inner workings of aircraft engines. Operate the control surfaces of an airplane to see how pilots guide their flying machines through the air. All this and much more awaits you at the Mid-America Air Museum.