Magnolia Blossom Inn

Jenny Sands Revitz Soper always wanted to live in a big house.
That was pretty much the entire premise for the adventure she has undertaken in the last year.
It began in July 2018, during a visit to Independence to clear out the home of her late parents, Bud and Millie Sands. The home had recently sold and there was “stuff” to be dealt with. Maybe it was the nostalgia of that task or perhaps the recollection of fond memories of the community where she lived as a child that caused her to begin percolating a plan. She needed a way to bridge her lifelong house dream with her current reality as a practicing attorney in West Los Angeles.
“I decided I wanted to retire, but I wasn’t retirement age,” Jenny said. “So, I thought, ‘Let’s start a B&B. That way, we can have an excuse for buying a big house.’”
Why not?

Winter 2018: “A Bolder Humboldt” Sneak Peek!

A Bolder Humboldt
Group dreams big and gets to work in Humboldt

Photo courtesy of A Bolder Humboldt

In a town of fewer than 2,000 people, there’s a revolution happening. The proof is found on the downtown square.

An abandoned building, formerly a jewelry store, has been transformed into a luxury candy shop with shiny marble floors and Parisian accents; upstairs, a modern Airbnb is available for rent. Next door, a new restaurant is opening its doors in another once-decrepit building, its mouth-watering menu creating a buzz in town. Around the corner, a mercantile offers upscale coffee drinks and curated boutique gifts.

Also in the works? A brewery. A renovated hotel. A makerspace.

Welcome to a new Humboldt – or, as one group is calling itself, A Bolder Humboldt…

Want to keep reading about A Bolder Humboldt? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Fall 2018: “Rural By Choice” Sneak Peek!

Rural By Choice
Schenker Family Farms and McCune Farm to Market invest in SEK – while serving customers around the world

It was 2008. Cherie Schenker logged on to Craigslist, a relatively new website at the time, to advertise a quarter of Schenker Family Farms’ grass-fed beef to local consumers.

Photo courtesy of Schenker Family Farms

It didn’t work.

“Somehow, it ended up going on the Craigslist in Orange County, California,” she says with a laugh. “But then – someone called.”

And someone else called. Then someone else. Quickly, Cherie and her husband, Kevin, realized: There’s a huge market for this.

“We needed a website and we needed to figure out how to ship this stuff,” Cherie says. “Necessity is the mother of invention … and we just kind of got propelled into it from there.”

Where they’ve landed 10 years later is one of the largest direct-marketing livestock operations in the state of Kansas. They sell their meat – all-natural, humanely raised beef, lamb, poultry and pork – to customers locally, across the state and throughout the country, including in every Whole Foods store in Kansas, the Kansas City metropolitan area and New Mexico. They developed a proprietary shipping container in 2009 and continue to ship their meat overseas to soldiers (their first shipment arrived to Afghanistan one week before Kevin did; he was deployed there for a little over a year). And they recently celebrated the one-year birthday of McCune Farm to Market, a small grocery store and café that sells fresh meat, locally grown produce, pantry staples and the Schenkers’ take-and-bake meals…

Want to keep reading about Schenker Family Farms and McCune Farm to Market? Check out the fall issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Spring 2018: ‘History on Route 66’ Sneak Peek!

History on Route 66
Old Riverton Store a fixture of SEK – and Route 66 – since 1925

On the small, 13.2-mile stretch of Route 66 that calls Kansas home, there’s a business that’s been operating since 1925 – one year before the Mother Road was even established.

Old Riverton Store might very well be the oldest continuously operating business on Route 66. To the hundreds of overseas tourists – from China, Australia, Italy, you name it – who visit it each year, the store is a must-stop for Route 66 history and nostalgia. For Riverton folks, it’s simply a staple of everyday life.

“I can’t imagine there’s another business like this on Route 66 that was around in 1925,” says Scott Nelson, who took over Old Riverton Store in 2010. “It’s just always been here…”

Want to keep reading about Old Riverton Store? Check out the spring issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Summer 2017: “World-Class Boats Built in Small-Town Kansas” Sneak Peek!

World-Class Boats Built in Small-Town Kansas
Cobalt Boats in Neodesha celebrates nearly 50 years in the marine industry

When it came time for Casey Lair to buy a boat, the choice was clear.

In fact, he says, there really wasn’t much of a choice to be made at all.

“We had bought a lake house at Table Rock, and I just assumed that if I was going to have a boat, Cobalt is supposed to be the best boat made – and it’s made in Neodesha,” says Casey, who’s lived and worked in Neodesha for 32 years. “So that’s what I needed to have.”

Photo courtesy of Cobalt Boats

Seven years and two boats later, Casey is a Cobalt Boats devotee. And he’s in good company: Tens of thousands of people across the country (and the world, for that matter) own a Cobalt luxury boat, all of which are built – by hand – by folks in Neodesha. Today, just shy of its 50th anniversary, Cobalt Boats has developed a reputation for building the best of the best in the marine industry, having received multiple awards for customer satisfaction from J.D. Power & Associates and the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

“We build as good a quality boat that’s built anywhere in the industry, right in Neodesha,” says Pack St. Clair, Cobalt’s founder. “To me, it’s what makes the business fun. We’ve been able to have success from a small town in Kansas where not many people expect to find a boat manufacturing company…”

Want to keep reading about Cobalt Boats? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you

Winter 2016: “Candy Craze” Sneak Peek!

Candy Craze
Iola attracts multiple candy companies over the years, including Sifers Valomilk

Next time you spot Valomilk, that vintage chocolate-coated treat with a runny marshmallow center, make sure you thank Iola. 

Valomilk’s creator, Sifers Candy Company, originated in Iola and was based there for several decades before moving its entire operation to Kansas City. It is one of a handful of candy manufacturers that have called Iola home since the late 1800s – including one of the country’s four Russell Stover factories, which is still based there today.

“You know candy was profitable here when three different men came to town before Sifers and all made big, big money from it,” says Donna Houser, volunteer with the Allen County Historical Society…

Want to keep reading about Iola’s candy history? Check out the winter issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Fall 2016: “Elk Falls Pottery” Sneak Peek!

Made by Hand
Elk Falls Pottery celebrates 40 years of craftsmanship

It was in college that Steve and Jane Fry fell in love with pottery – and with each other. They haven’t looked back since. 

This year, the Frys celebrate 40 years of running their family business, Elk Falls Pottery, a huge attraction in tiny Elk Falls. (They’re also celebrating 42 years of marriage.) While many of their peers consider retirement, Steve and Jane are staying as busy as ever: Just a few months ago, in fact, they moved Elk Falls Pottery to a new, larger, more scenic (and historic) location at the corner of Hwy. 160 and Seventh Street.

“People my age are thinking about retiring and finally doing what they really want to do,” says Steve, who just turned 64. “Well, I’m already doing what I really want to do. And I’ll do it as long as I can…”

Want to keep reading about Elk Falls Pottery? Check out the fall issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Spring 2016: “Glorious Glass” Sneak Peek!

Glorious Glass
ChaGlaz Designs in Glass wows with one-of-a-kind glasswork

ChaGlaz Designs in Glass in Parsons produces artistic glass pieces, including handmade marbles.

Keith Wilson examines three handmade marbles in his Parsons garage-turned-art studio, twirling them in his hand as their colors and sparkly dichroic glass catch the light.

“These are absolutely one of a kind,” he says. “I’ll never be able to replicate them; I can’t even tell you how I got the design. These three – they’re never for sale.”

They’re the kinds of rare pieces you get when you’re in the studio as much as Keith and his wife, Charlean, are. The retired husband-and-wife duo run ChaGlaz Designs in Glass in Parsons, a hobby-based business that practices all five disciplines of a full glass studio: warm glass, hot glass, torch work, cold work and recycled glass.

“We are probably the only studio of our kind in Southeast Kansas,” Keith says…

Want to keep reading about ChaGlaz Designs in Glass? Check out the spring issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Fall 2014: “Vogel Family Vineyards” sneak peek!

Vogel Family Vineyards
Vines flourish on Galena family’s land

Photo courtesy of Vogel Family Vinyeards

Photo courtesy of Vogel Family Vinyeards

Ten years ago, Steve and Sheryll Vogel took a trip to Napa Valley.

Like millions of wine enthusiasts, they were impressed with the beautiful northern California landscape. Unlike many of those other visitors, however, they decided to try to replicate what they saw back at home – in Southeast Kansas.

“We went out to Napa and thought, ‘That’d be pretty on our hill,’” Steve says. “We thought we’d grow some grapes and that it wouldn’t be much trouble. It was a lot of trouble! But we decided to take a chance.”

The trouble was well worth it. Today, Steve, Sheryll and their son Phillip run Vogel Family Vineyards on 6.5 acres south of their hometown of Galena. As you turn the corner toward their home and vineyard, a sign proclaims that you’re in “Wine Country” now – and when you catch a glimpse of the scenery, there’s no arguing with that.

“We were traveling into Galena from the south, and we looked up on the hills and saw these rows of beautiful vines,” says Doug Gatewood, who moved to Galena a little more than a year ago with his wife – and has visited the vineyard several times since. “Seeing the rolling hills and the vineyard, it’s like you’re in Burgundy…”

Want to keep reading about Vogel Family Vineyards? Check out the fall issue of Southeast Kansas Living, out now! It will include this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.

Summer 2014: “Makin’ Music” sneak peek!

Makin’ Music
Larry Brockway’s Hall of Fame Studio is a hit in Neodesha

Rodney Lay likes to say that Larry Brockway has big ears. 

Just not in the way you’re thinking.

“He can just hear what sounds right,” says Lay, of “Hee Haw” and Rodney & the Blazers fame. “I’ve recorded with some of the best in the business, and this guy is right there with them. I tell you what, Larry is really, really a fine engineer and record producer.”

And Brockway’s equally lauded Hall of Fame Studio is based right here in Southeast Kansas. Not Nashville or New York – but Neodesha.

“He’s just a phenomenon for this part of the country,” Lay says. “When you think about all the people he’s brought to the state, he’s been a well-kept secret for all these years – a great treasure for Southeast Kansas.”

Musicians for Merle Haggard, Elton John, Patti LaBelle, Sheryl Crow, Paul McCartney: They’ve come from Nashville, Los Angeles – all over the country – to record specifically with Brockway at Hall of Fame Studio. Brockway has recognized all along that there’s something special about his small-town space, and everyone who records there has to agree…

Want to keep reading about Hall of Fame Studio? Check out the summer issue of Southeast Kansas Living, which is out now! It includes this story in its entirety, plus so much more. Subscribe now, or contact us to find a newsstand near you.