Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wamego Tulip Festival Without Blooms

Local tulips before the festival.
The festival was a success but the tulips weren't blooming. They are only now beginning to bloom, primarily in sheltered locations.

The festival area is also Wamego city park. It is bordered by playgrounds, a windmill on a mound, and the History Museum. The museum is a collection of artifacts not necessarily from Kansas, although most were donated by local residents.
Lathe at the Wamego History Museum.
Surrey with a fringe on top.

Down the street from the park (and the festival) is the Oz Museum. They nearly owned the original Judy Garland ruby slippers. Unfortunately, the shoes were stolen two weeks before they were due at the museum. Although (as you will learn in the museum) in the book they were silver shoes, not ruby slippers. The ruby slippers came into being to take advantage of newly discovered technicolor film.

There are as many aspects of Oz as can be crammed into one residential home-sized space. There are niches for sections of the story: the witch dies, munchkins, the tin man, the scarecrow, etc. All nicely done and off limits for touching. There is also a dark, scary Haunted Forest section complete with warning sign. One young visitor could only be coaxed through while holding her father's hand.
Most sincerely dead.

Shelves of books (behind glass) show early editions of all the books Frank Baum wrote. There are a lot. Besides the Oz books, there is an extensive series for young girls written under a pseudonym. Other items behind glass include a death certificate for the Wicked Witch of the West, playbills and photos from stage productions, a pair of ruby slippers (not from the movie), and a case of genuine "Wicked" stage props.
Original art work from the Wizard of Oz books.
Pay no attention to the man
behind the curtain.
Sit in the chair and be the Wizard!

Admission is $7. A good place for a rainy day. If the admission seems unreasonable, you can see the Munchkin prints in the cement outside and purchase souvenirs in the gift shop.

Sometimes the tulips do bloom for the festival. This year winter stayed longer than usual. No one seemed put out by the lack of blooms. There were numerous booths and lots of handcrafts to choose from. There was carnival (festival) food. You could eat as many funnel cakes as you like, provided you were willing to wait in line. I opted for the barbecue which had the virtue of being the shortest line. Being made ahead, I didn't have to wait for the order to be cooked.

It was a true Kansas experience.
A blooming tulip discovered at the festival.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

A Visit to Lawrence: the Hippie Capital of Kansas

Signage at the Antique shop.
Lawrence exists because once upon a time the residents of Kansas considered coming down on the side of slavery. Alien intellectuals moved here to swing the vote. And then, having succeeded in keeping Kansas free, they stayed.

The place is now a university town, attracting liberals from all over. The main street, Massachusetts, has become a hippie happening (particularly on Saturday) with artsy shops, museums, fabulous food, assorted crafty places, and the requisite hipsters. The street is wide and pedestrian-friendly.
8-track tapes! Still to be
captured in the wild.

We (my two house mates and I) started off at the Antique Mall because it was early and most of the other shops were closed. You have to arrive by 10 am or you won't find a place to park. It's all meters with a 2-hour limit. The only free day is Sunday.

After wandering around viewing 8-track tapes, funky signage, and school desks I hadn't seen in at least 30 years, we headed out into what was becoming a throng.

Next stop, the Yarn Barn with luscious yarns all in the nosebleed price range and catering primarily to weavers. Need a loom? You can find it here and the warp and weft to go with it.

The shock of student desks.
The British food shop, Brits, was up next. And through the next door, separated only by a glass wall into au Marche, a European food shop. Ooooooh! Flake! Assam Tea!

Back to the car to move to another meter. Everyone else was playing the game and we lucked into another spot two blocks up.

Take a card! 
Lunch at Aladdin's was amazing! Flavorful authentic Mediterranean cuisine, a blend between Lebanese and Greek. I had perfectly grilled lamb kebobs with vegetables and a tangy fresh cucumber sauce. The lentil soup was delicately spiced. The server noticed I preferred water with no ice, and brought me a glass after my Rose Lemonade ran out—without having to be asked.

Lamb kabobs with cucumber sauce. Yum!
If you get the chance to visit Lawrence, be sure to stop into the Phoenix Gallery. And drop into the fine art gallery downstairs, too. The Phoenix shows a variety of pottery from unique shapes and colors to original glazes and thoughtful specialized dishes. There's a stand of Holly Yashi (my favorite) and lots of other handmade jewelry.

We browsed the shops for four hours, but you could easily stay longer.
For the Whovians at Brits.
Next up: the Wamego Tulip Festival. Hoping to get some good photos and a sunny day.