Fall 2019: Beautifully Orchestrated

Raúl Munguia likens his job to that of a magician. When the spotlight is hot, a paying audience is in their seats and his wand is primed and ready, it’s time for a show.
“It’s the job of the conductor to manage the magic on stage,” said Munguia, the Music Director and Conductor of the Southeast Kansas Symphony at Pittsburg State University. “My wand is the silent instrument.”
Munguia is now in his seventh year as an associate professor of music and the symphony conductor at PSU, and there’s actually been no trickery involved in the way he has built the program, just a lot of hard work, relationship building and nurturing of talent.
“I was hired to energize (the symphony),” he explained. “Music is totally different than teaching a regular class. It goes well beyond the classroom. It’s about collaboration and bringing the best out of the students.”

Summer 2019: “Polka Party” Sneak Peek!

Polka Party
Polka tradition lives on through Johnnie Zibert Band & Big Brutus’ Polka Fest

Photo courtesy of The Morning Sun (Marcus Clem)

On a late summer evening each year, Johnnie Joe Zibert lugs his 30-pound accordion beneath the towering shadow of Big Brutus – and he puts on a show.

His fingers flying, Johnnie plays dozens of tunes on the accordion, watching as old folks and kids alike dance to the music across Big Brutus’ pavilion floor. Others can’t help but clap and sing along.

He plays a little bit of everything – country, rock ‘n roll, slow songs – but he’s best known for his polka, the same music his dad famously played across Southeast Kansas for 75 years. And for Big Brutus’ annual Polka Fest, this summer to celebrate its 29th anniversary, there’s no better group to run the show than the Johnnie Zibert Band.

“Polka Fest is a tradition in Southeast Kansas, and I’m really proud to be able to carry on that tradition,” Johnnie says. “I feel honored…”

Want to keep reading about polka in Southeast Kansas? 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.

Fall 2018: “Discover Cato” Sneak Peek!

Discover Cato
SEK ghost town comes to life in a big way during annual Fall Tour

Photo courtesy of Cato Historical Preservation Association

It’s been more than 60 years since the one-room Cato School conducted official classroom business. But come one weekend each fall, when more than 600 students descend upon the ghost town of Cato, that tiny historic school and its community come back to life in a big way.

Teachers gather students for turn-of-the-century math and reading lessons. A horse-drawn stagecoach wanders near. Kids play traditional pioneer games outside the schoolhouse windows.

It all happens at Cato’s annual Fall Tour, this year set for the first weekend in November. The event highlights the history of Cato and offers several historical reenactments, music, refreshments, informational booths, tours and more…

Want to keep reading about Cato and its annual Fall Tour? 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.

Winter 2017: “Art is Ageless” Sneak Peek!

Art is Ageless
Art competition for seniors emphasizes creativity and encouragement

Aggie Keesling, 89, has taken up painting just in the last several years. She’s teaching herself, experimenting with colors, learning from trial and error. She even paints over old canvases multiple times so she doesn’t have to drive to town to buy more. 

“I paint quite a bit, especially in the wintertime because it’s so quiet out here,” says Aggie, who lives in Farlington. “When I have nothing to do, I’ll sit and paint. It gives me so much enjoyment, I wonder where the hours have gone.”

This year, for the first time, Aggie submitted her artwork to a contest: Art is Ageless, hosted by Fort Scott Presbyterian Village. She selected two of her paintings to enter into one category – and, much to her shock, she took home first and second place.

“A friend got me involved,” Aggie says. “I told her no way would I ever take my paintings up there, but she finally convinced me. I was really surprised and just thrilled to death to get second, and to get first – I’m real pleased.”

Aggie’s story is the epitome of Art is Ageless…

Want to keep reading about Art is Ageless? 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 2015: “Welcome to Neewollah” sneak peek!

Welcome to Neewollah
Annual celebration back in a big way this Halloween

Reverse the word “Halloween”; what do you get?

Much more than a jumble of letters, as Independence natives well know.

In fact, Neewollah is a 100-year-old nine-day festival in Independence, billed as the state’s largest annual celebration. And it’s back in a big way for 2015.

Photo courtesy of the Independence Chamber of Commerce

Photo courtesy of the Independence Chamber of Commerce

“I’m always a fan of everything at Neewollah, but this year, the Oak Ridge Boys performing and Jim Halsey being my honorary generalissimo – those are the big things I’m really looking forward to,” says John Hamlin, Neewollah’s 2015 generalissimo, who heads up the event. “I always knew that if I ever became generalissimo for Neewollah that I’d want to have the Oak Ridge Boys and Jim involved.”

That’s because both have deep roots in Independence and Neewollah. In fact, Halsey – an Independence native who’s gone on to become a well-known music agent and artist manager – was one of a handful of men who revived Neewollah back in 1958 after it fell off the map in the 1930s. The celebration has occurred annually ever since…

Want to keep reading about Neewollah? 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.