Western Kansas has no shortage of must-do and must-see things. Here are just a few examples:
Kansas' Biggest Rodeo
This three-day annual festival in early August draws 500 competitors vying for $100,000 in prize money. Kansas' Biggest Rodeo takes place in Phillipsburg and is sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Seven competitions are featured – bareback riding, tie down roping, steer wrestling, saddle bronc riding, team roping, women’s barrel racing and bull riding.
Restoration is continuing on the Washington-Ames House, the largest home in Leoti. William and Julia Washington were the original owners in the 1880s, and Margie and Oren Ames eventually purchased it in the late 1950s. Today, the house at J and Third streets is owned by the Wichita County Historical Society, which is overseeing the large preservation project.
Lee Richardson Zoo
The zoo in Garden City is home to hundreds of native Kansas and exotic animals, including elephants, giraffes, lions, bears, birds and primates. Lee Richardson Zoo is open year round, free to pedestrians, and vehicles may drive through for just $10 per day. The zoo supports conservation projects and schedules summer camps and classroom presentations.
This house in Liberal is a replica of Dorothy’s Kansas home from the 1939 classic movie The Wizard of Oz, and today stands on the Coronado Museum grounds. The home is the centerpiece of an annual Oztoberfest celebration that annually attracts about 5,000 Oz devotees. Attendees can take a tour of the house as part of a Land of Oz exhibit.
Boot Hill Museum
Boot Hill Museum features a collection of artifacts dealing with the late 19th and early 20th century cultural history of Dodge City. Included in the exhibition are guns, saloon items, wanted posters, photographs and a cowboy hall of fame, with all collections intended for the education and enjoyment of the general public. It is open seven days a week.
Sternberg Museum of Natural History
The Sternberg Museum at Fort Hays State University in Hays features a large collection of dinosaur material, fossil grass seeds, and marine and terrestrial vertebrate fossils. It is devoted to science, education and tourism, and is housed in the university’s former metroplex dome. There is also a discovery room where visitors can explore the wonders of nature.
Oil Patch Museum
The Oil Patch Museum in Russell tells the story of the people and events that make up the history of oil in western Kansas. Attractions include an actual oil storage tank along with several geology, drilling, production and transportation exhibits. The museum is open seven days a week from June through August, and by appointment at other times.
The Jerry Thomas Gallery & Collection
Jerry Thomas is a nationally acclaimed artist who grew up in Scott City and continues to have his gallery in Scott County. He has made a career of painting the beauty of nature and the history of the Old West, and began publishing his works in 1989. Thomas was inducted into the Southwestern College Fine Arts Hall of Fame in 2012.