Saturday, October 24, 2009

It's about what we have but, moreso, what we do with it.

What the public sees are the vote totals, the list of the top 8. We hope they read the information pages by clicking on the thumbnail pictures of each of the 24 finalists to really find the cool stuff.

What we often hear about at the Kansas Sampler Foundation, is what the contest is doing within the cities.

Franklin-Arma (Crawford Co.) sidewalk entry: The folks in Franklin are planning to restore the history sidewalk so one benefit of the contest exposure has been some new leads for financial support! Also, Phyllis Bitner spoke at the local nursing home about the contest and many of the residents had a marvelous time sharing stories about walking the path to school. The local newspaper also interviewed sidewalk-users of the past and did a great story about walking to school in the good ol' days.

Widest main street in Kansas entry, Plains: Click here to see the picture that shows how many school kids it takes to span the widest Main Street west of the Mississippi. Students weren't told why they were doing this until the news came out that the extra wide main street had been selected as a contest participant. Then, city advocates went back to the school with contest postcards and bookmarks (sponsored by the local bank and CPA) to tell about the contest. Voting became a class project and the kids all went to the computer lab to vote.

Ellinwood Underground Tunnels entry: Local support was fantastic and a host of group tours are in the date book!

Oz attractions: Because of the contest, Wamego and Liberal are now working together to promote their Wizard of Oz attractions.

The Shoe Tree entry, Wetmore: The notebook in the newly-erected mail box at the tree has a lot of new names since the start of the contest, including two from South Africa!

Red Fish entry, Harper: Maybe the greatest thing is the new awareness by locals about the Red Fish on top of the watertower. Some didn't even know that the nine-and-a-half foot fish was up there -- and it's been there since 1886!

Dala horses, Lindsborg: There is new buzz around town for Dala-related events and serious new ideas for horses!

The contest is exciting to the masses because of the competition, the process to pick the top 8. But perhaps the best attribute of the contest is the launching-pad effect that it creates locally for elevated pride, new ideas, and for helping communities see themselves with new eyes.

When locals seize the opportunity, the value can't be measured.

Visit the 8 Wonders sites and you'll definitely "Get Kansas!"

KE #2 Marci Penner

Interesting tidbit: If you go to Google search, you'll see over 1.5 million entries for the 8 Wonders of Kansas.

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