Archive for Thursday, June 5, 2008

Reasons to stick close to home

June 5, 2008

It would appear that this is going to be a tough summer when it comes to travel. With gasoline prices hovering close to $4 per gallon, I believe that people will think twice before taking a trip. What all this comes down to is the $1 billion-plus tourism industry is going to take a hit.

There certainly is a domino effect when it comes to fuel prices. We can't afford to drive anywhere and airline tickets are heading up, up and away due to fuel prices. Maybe this is the summer to look at some tourism opportunities in our own back yard.

I wonder how many local residents have visited the Agricultural Hall of Fame? It really is a great facility for all ages. The more mature folks can remember the "good old days" as they browse through the exhibits. Youngsters can have a living history lesson as they learn a great deal about Americana and early 20th century farming communities. It is an educational family outing and you could also enjoy a picnic at the Wyandotte County Park. The Wyandotte County Museum is also located in the park.

In fact, there are lots of excellent museums within a drive that would take much less than a full tank of gasoline. The Fort Leavenworth Museum is outstanding. If you want to go more than 50 miles from home, the Kansas State Historical Museum in Topeka provides fascinating history about our state. A really big but worthwhile day trip would be to the Eisenhower Museum in Abilene. If you are a history buff, there is the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence, Mo., and the World War I Museum in downtown Kansas City, Mo. The Arabia Museum is great, too.

There are a couple of other local museums that I've enjoyed. If you have the remotest interest in sports, the Negro League Baseball Museum is a must. While it is not as well-known, the Strawberry Hill Museum gives visitors a snapshot of early KCK.

When it comes to local activities, the summer will get off to a quick start. On Saturday, June 7, Basehor will hold its Dairy Days. Events start at 7 a.m. with a Chris Cakes pancake breakfast. Other activities include a 5-K run, games and live music. Basehor will hold a Fourth of July celebration, too.

For me, summer will officially begin on Thursday, June 12, at 8:30 p.m. when the Bonner Springs City Band season opens. Normally, concerts are held each Thursday night through July with one exception. In conjunction with the "Bonner Blast" celebration, the concert will be held on Saturday, July 28 with fireworks to follow. There will be an ice cream social before each concert. The local band is one of the few groups that invite all musicians to participate. In their rows, you may find a 75-year old playing next to a 12-year old middle-schooler. The concerts are a celebration of small-town life and a lot of fun.

The summer ends on a high note with the Tiblow Days celebration sponsored by the Bonner Springs-Edwardsville Chamber of Commerce, which is scheduled for Aug. 22-Aug. 23. One of the biggest assets of Tiblow Days is that it has something for every age group. This includes the parade, which is probably the biggest in Wyandotte County.

You can spend an enjoyable day at the area county fairs. Both Wyandotte and Leavenworth have excellent fairs and, best of all, there is no admission to the fair grounds. Yes, there is an admission charge for some of the shows, however, it doesn't cost you a penny to amble through the exhibits.

I'm a baseball fan and I am certainly glad that we have opportunities close to home. The Kansas City Royals are an emerging team and you can still afford to take a family to a major-league baseball game. They have a variety of admission plans which are family-friendly. In addition, the Kansas City T-Bones are only a few miles from Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Basehor. Again, a family can afford to attend a T-Bones game. The T-Bones put on a great show that is fun for all ages. For those of us who are grandparents, the best baseball or softball might be seen in recreation leagues.

There are many other opportunities for low-cost family fun, too. These include the Bonner Springs Aquatic Center and comedy at the local Roving Imp Improv Theater. Theater productions in the park in Johnson County are always popular. The KC metro area also has some great professional theaters with ticket prices that won't break the budget.

The Bonner Springs Parks and Recreation Department will have a full slate of activities planned for all ages and interest levels.

Yes, the metro area offers a lot to see and do which is close to home and relatively inexpensive. Have a great summer and enjoy the benefits of living in a great metropolitan area.

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