Archive for Monday, June 10, 2013

Ag Hall a treasure

June 10, 2013

Fifty years ago, the entire area was buzzing with excitement about the news that Congress had chartered the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame, which would be located in Bonner Springs. It was scheduled to be the centerpiece of development in western Wyandotte County. However, it didn’t take long for backers to discover a problem – while Congress chartered the national agricultural center in 1960, it did not approve any funding.

That, of course, meant that all the money needed to build the facility and to operate it had to come from private sources and the facility received no government funds. There is no doubt that the lack of funding has plagued the Ag Hall.

The dedication was attended by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and was a gala affair attended by dignitaries from both sides of the state line. One of the key figures in the establishment of the facility was former Bonner Springs Mayor Del Hininger.

Over the years, the Ag Hall had made many improvements and it is an asset to the area. Sadly, there are many Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Basehor residents who have never visited the Ag Hall, and that is a shame. A tour of the museum is a nostalgic trip back in American history. I am fascinated by the old vehicles and equipment in the museum. I admit that I’m “shocked” that some of the vehicles that I remember from my youth are now antiques.

Cathi Hahner, director, said while the Ag Hall maintains the history of agriculture, it now provides information about high tech modern farmer and the future of the industry. The Ag Hall has changed part of its emphasis and now features many special events. One of the most popular is the “Barn Yard Babies” in the spring, the Tractor Cruise, Tractor Daze and swap meet, “Show and Shine” truck and car show and at Halloween, “trick or treat” on the farm. Probably the most visual special event is the International Lineman’s Rodeo.

In my opinion, the Ag Hall is more than special events. It is a slice of living American history. Much of the 154-acre site is dedicated the “Farm Town USA.” My favorite is the “Smith House,” which is an exact replica of any early 1900’s farm home. Next to it is the barn, which is used for many special events including community activities, wedding receptions and graduation parties just to name a few. Rental information is available by calling 721-1075.

Farm Town USA also includes a one-room school where classes are conducted during special events. The school is authentic and was the Line Creek School in Piper. Thanks to the community spirit and generosity of the late Jim Kreider, Farm Town has an original railroad depot. Retired railroad employees installed an authentic narrow gauge track, and train rides are available on weekends and during special events.

Other highlights include an operating blacksmith shop with a display of 300 anvils, national poultry museum, a gallery of rural art and, of course, the Hall of Fame. The 200-seat Rural Electric Conference Center is a fine place for a meeting.

The Ag Hall depends on volunteers and operates with a skeleton staff. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $8 for adults; $7 for senior citizens and $4 for young people ages 4 to 16.

The Ag Hall of Fame is a great facility and provides both fun and information for the entire family. Certainly, the area should be proud to be the home of such a quality facility and if you haven’t visited the Ag Hall, put it on your summer “to do” list.

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