Archive for Thursday, June 24, 2004

Sesquicentennial adds significance to Lecompton festival

June 24, 2004


For children in Lecompton, the Territorial Days festival is almost like Christmas.

"When we were kids, I remember not being able to sleep the night before the festival because I was so excited," said lifelong Lecompton resident Brenda Hastert. "For Lecompton this is quite an event. Everybody looks forward to it."

Along with the fun comes a lot of history, especially this year when the town, 10 miles northwest of Lawrence and a territorial capital of Kansas, celebrates its sesquicentennial.

One of the highlights of the celebration will be dedication at 2 p.m. Saturday of the building that was Democratic Party headquarters during the Kansas territorial period.

U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., State Reps. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and Harold Lane, D-Topeka, and historians Tom and Deb Goodrich will speak at the ceremony.

"It's being done in recognition of the major role that Lecompton played in Kansas and national history before the Civil War," said Paul Bahnmaier, one of the organizers of the festival.

The Lecompton Historical Society bought the former party headquarters six years ago and began renovations. The dedication will be an opportunity for people to go in and look around the 18-by-20-foot building.

People have had to look in the building through the windows unless someone from the historical society was present and could unlock the building, Bahnmaier said.

Also on Saturday will be demonstrations of pioneer skills, a parade and the performance of the play "Bleeding Kansas," a 12-character portrayal of pre-Civil War Kansas.

"It's a really fun day," said Penny Bahret, a festival organizer who moved to Lecompton 17 years ago. "We feel a lot of pride to live here. The history is just phenomenal."

The festival has attracted about 3,000 people to the town in the past.

Sesquicentennial T-shirts and medallions will be for sale at the festival. The T-shirts cost $10; medallions cost $5. The medallion has the territorial seal on one side and Constitution Hall on the other side. Proceeds support the festival.

Friday6 p.m.-9 p.m.: Carnival.6:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Registration for turtle and frog race, pedal tractor pull at City Hall.6:30 p.m.: Softball tournament.7 p.m.: Cake walk.9-11 p.m.: Teen street dance.Saturday7 a.m.-10 a.m.: Pancake feed.8 a.m.: Horseshoe tournament, district Abate show.8:30 a.m.: Frog and turtle races, softball tournament.9 a.m.: Pioneer skills living demonstrations. Territorial Capital Museum and Constitution Hall open.11 a.m.: Parade, theme: "Kansas Territorial Sesquicentennial Celebration."1:30 p.m.: 1850s-era music being played, Democratic Headquarters.2 p.m.: Dedication of Democratic Headquarters.3 p.m.: Performance of "Bleeding Kansas" play, Democratic Headquarters.4 p.m.: Historic piano recital and jamboree, Lecompton United Methodist Church.6 p.m.: Ice cream social, City Park.6:45 p.m.: Schmalstieg Pedal Tractor Pull, ages 4-12.9 p.m.-12 a.m.: Evening concert featuring the Nodding Lizards.For more information call (785) 887-6617.

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