Sampler director challenges chambers

Marci Penner, executive director of the Kan?sas Sampler Foundation, encour?aged those attending Monday?s joint Marion-Hillsboro chambers dinner to think of attractions that would bring visitors to town.Marci Penner, executive director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, was Monday?s guest speaker at the third annual Hillsboro and Marion Joint Chambers of Commerce dinner meeting.

More than 150 people attended the event to learn more about what Marion County residents can do to preserve and sustain its rural culture.

?I could choose to do an entertaining slide show of things to do and see in the state,? she said about her presentation. ?But, I?d rather do something to get your wheels turning.?

Her discussion focused on how she and WenDee LaPlant, assistant director, are traveling to the 626 incorporated cities in Kansas.

?Midway Motors lent us a car and we are going ERVing (Explorer Research Voyage) in the ERV, and we have not yet ERVed in Marion County,? she said.

By showing some photographs of places she and LaPlant have visited so far, Penner would like everyone to think about things that visitors could do or see in Hillsboro, Marion or Marion County.

Once the trip is completed, she said, it will be the next edition of the Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.

To start things off, Penner wanted Chamber members to play a game for a chance to win the book, ?Eight Wonders of Kansas.?

The winner would be the last person still standing after Penner asked about places people have visited.

The places included the Dwight Eisenhower Museum Complex, Fort Larned National Historic Site, Big Brutus in southeast Kansas, Guy and Mae?s Tavern in Williamsburg near Ottawa and the Garden of Eden in Lucas.

With four people left standing, Penner then asked how many have partied at Pillsbury Crossing, and all four sat down, but a lot of other hands went up.

?Last four (people) get back up,? she said. ?Have you ever scaled Mt. Sunflower??

The last person standing did so after having been to the ?Home on the Range? cabin, where the Kansas state song was written.

Highlighting some of their travels, Penner showed pictures in Hoisington of iron cutouts of a combine harvest seen and a flagpole holder with a meadowlark in the middle.

?Art is important,? she said. ?If you have a good meat market, grocery store, that is gold.

?I am making a plea to support your local grocery store. If you lose it, you will miss it.?

Places with German sausage or ethnic foods is something else to promote.

?Lindsborg has stores with Swedish products,? she said.

Storefronts can also be to attract visitors. The more friendly, colorful and simple the storefront is, the better.

?Apron Strings in Hutchinson is a store you want to go inside,? she said.

?If you have a coffee shop, that is a good thing. Hillsboro, I know you do.?

?It is great to see what Hillsboro and Marion (Chambers) are doing together,? she said.

As a small gift of gratitude for her visit, the two Chambers presented Container Services Inc. containers filled with Barkman Honey and Grannie?s Homemade Mustard.

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