Polka tradition lives on through Johnnie Zibert Band & Big Brutus’ Polka Fest
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 … Read More »
Welcome to The Lavender Patch
Fort Scott family farm features 1,000+ lavender plants
When you enter Davin and Betsy Reichard’s home, you can’t miss it: that familiar, unmistakable scent of lavender.
It’s inevitable. The Reichards are surrounded by lavender, from the hundreds of lavender plants that are blooming just outside their front door to the dozens of homemade lavender products they make in their home each week.
That’s just everyday life (“I don’t even smell it anymore,” Betsy says) as the Reichards run The Lavender Patch Farm in Fort Scott. Their small family operation centers on just over 1,000 lavender plants, plus a gift shop filled with Betsy’s lavender creations…
Want to keep reading about The Lavender Patch Farm? 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 … Read More »
Fall in Love at Summit Hill Gardens
There’s just something about Summit Hill. It captivated Patsy Smeed from the very beginning.
She moved there – one acre of land south of Chanute, the site of an old one-room schoolhouse – more than 40 years ago with her late husband Larry, an artist and professor. All these years later, she still hasn’t left.
“I just fell in love with Summit Hill,” she says. “It’s been a lot of great therapy for me.”
Since her arrival, Patsy has slowly expanded her land from one acre to 65 acres. The sprawling property is much more than her home or the location of a historic schoolhouse: It’s also the site of her business, Summit Hill Gardens, which offers a soap shop (all products Patsy makes herself) and wedding venue/event center in partnership with her sister-in-law Gretchen Brant.
No matter … Read More »
Galesburg innovator’s legacy lives on in Southeast Kansas – and across the country
Everyone who knew him says Stanley Wilbur Shaw was an inventor by nature.
At age 8, in the late 1880s, he assembled his first bicycle, using the wheels from his dad’s cultivator (come corn plowing time, he later wrote, he had to return those wheels). By 10, he had made a crude clock and was repairing farm equipment and guns. A few years later, as a young teenager, he built his first engine.
It’s no surprise, then, that Stanley would go on to make inventing his life’s work, finding success making small engines that converted bicycles to motorbikes in the early 1900s. He would later make automobiles and vastly popular small tractors and garden equipment, like the Shaw Du-All and Peppy Pal tractors. Stanley’s company, Shaw Manufacturing, was located … Read More »
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 … Read More »
ChaGlaz Designs in Glass wows with one-of-a-kind glasswork
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 … Read More »
They’re popping up all across SEK these days, thanks to a fundraiser in Woodson County
Woodson County might be one of the newest members of the Flint Hills Barn Quilt Trail, but you wouldn’t guess it.
Just a year after it launched, the Woodson County Barn Quilt Trail boasts more than 100 hand-painted wooden quilt squares displayed on homes, on barns, throughout downtown Yates Center and all across the area. They’re the handiwork of a dedicated group of Yates Centerans who aspired to do or create something to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Woodson County Historical Society – but they wanted that something to be “more lasting than a dinner for members or a commemorative mug.”
What they came up with – the Woodson County Barn Quilt Project – turned out to be much more than a successful … Read More »
Fab Lab ICC
Turning ideas into creative solutions, one project at a time
Of all things, Wes Koschke needed to make a hand. And a fully functional one, at that – for 13-year-old Kara Marr, who was born with a condition called symbrachydactyly, leaving her right palm with no fingers.
Koschke didn’t have $42,000 to purchase Marr, the daughter of a family friend, a prosthetic hand – and he also didn’t have access to a 3-D printer (going rate: $3,000) to print his own.
The solution? Enter Fab Lab ICC, a new creative space on the Independence Community College campus that provides access to cutting-edge tools for design, experimentation and problem-solving, both for students and members of the community and region.
Its mission statement: “to realize that anyone, anywhere can make (almost) anything.” No one knows that better now than Koschke…
Want to keep reading about … Read More »
Erie Dinosaur Park
Dorris dinosaurs donated to Erie to create new public park
People who knew the late Robert Dorris describe him as honest and hard-working, imaginative and adventurous: a stand-up Christian husband and father.
But an artist? That’s not how Bob saw himself, anyway. His wife, Elveta, says he “didn’t want to be called an artist in any form.”
Still, some may beg to differ.
From 1989 to the early 2000s, Bob was responsible for the conception, construction and installation of 15 larger-than-life dinosaurs along Hwy. 47 near Erie. Using only metal scraps – mostly old car parts – Bob sculpted the now-famous dinosaurs “just for fun,” Elveta says. “We never dreamed it would be so (popular).”
Fondly known by many as the “Dinosaur Not-So-National Park,” the sculptures have remained on the family’s private property since Bob’s passing in 2007. Soon, though, 12 of … Read More »
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 … Read More »