Land & Sky Byway to hold card and game night fundraiser

Highway 27 in northern Cheyenne County
A traveler heads west on Highway 27 in northern Cheyenne County.

Land and Sky Scenic Byway to hold its first annual fundraiser

Land and Sky Scenic Byway will hold a Game and Card Night at 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at Goodland Elks Lodge No. 1528, 1523 Arcade. The event will feature card and other games, chili feed, cash bar, live and silent auctions, disc jockey and dancing. Donation boxes will be available at the chili feed. Donations will also be accepted for the live and silent auctions.

Funds raised will support byway development, including signage, interpretation and other long term projects. Call Cheyenne County Development Corporation, 785-332-3508; Sherman County Convention and Visitors Bureau, 785-890-3515; or Wallace County Visitors Bureau, 785-821-1861; for information or to donate.

bridge over the North Fork of the Smoky Hill River
A truck crosses the North Fork of the Smoky Hill River in southern Sherman County.

What is a byway?

Byways are roads that tell a story. Land and Sky Scenic Byway’s designation means that the State of Kansas believes we have an interesting story to tell. We are a gateway to a unique adventure, a path to understand Northwest Kansas and rural America better. We want visitors to explore and experience what makes life on the High Plains special.

The State of Kansas designated Land and Sky Scenic Byway May 25, 2016. The byway runs 88 miles along Highway 27 from the Nebraska-Kansas line to Sharon Springs. The byway is the nation’s first byway with an agriculture theme. We hope to teach people that their food comes from the hard work of farmers, that it does not magically appear on store shelves.

What does the byway committee do?

Kansas Tourism Office works hard to promote all the state’s 12 byways. The local byway committee has also worked hard to promote Land and Sky.

The byway was designated in time for inclusion in the state’s byways guide, which dropped in time for the state fair in September. The state helps promote the byway in many ways, but we can do much more. Byway communities are invited to work in Kansas Tourism’s booth at the state fair. The byway published a rack card in time for the state fair.

Byway representatives used the rack card in booths at trade shows in Denver, Kansas City and Omaha in 2017’s first quarter.

The byway committee works to meet its goals

The byway committee set two goals for 2017: 1) publishing a byway brochure; 2) placing interpretive signage along the byway. Interpretive signage tells our story.

Cover of Land and Sky Scenic Byway’s brochure. Read the brochure’s online version.

The byway has finished its first goal. Cheyenne County Development Corporation received a grant to help fund the brochure. The brochure was printed in time for byway representatives to take it to the Kansas Media Event at Meredith Corporation headquarters, Des Moines, Iowa, in early April. Meredith representatives from Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Living, Traditional Home, Diabetic Living, Better Homes & Gardens Quilting and Crafts Group, Meredith Travel Marketing, Meredith Brand Licensing, Meredith Agrimedia and Meredith Test Kitchen visited the byway booth. Several Meredith publications staff have toured the byway or plan to do so.

Byway representatives will again man Kansas Tourism’s booth at the state fair.

The byway’s impact is being felt

We may already be seeing the byway’s impact in traffic counts. Kansas Department of Transportation counts traffic every July and releases the figures in August. This year’s traffic counts exceed last year at all 18 counting locations along the byway.

St. Francis Motorcycle Museum
People from all 50 states and several foreign countries have visited the St. Francis Motorcycle Museum.

Attendance at local museums is up. People stop by the Giant van Gogh Painting at all hours of the day and well into the night.

Sherman County wheat
This stand of Sherman County wheat is nearly ripe. Wheat will become flour for breads, or many other items. Interpretive signage will enable the byway to explain agriculture’s importance.

The byway seeks tools to help visitors

But when visitors arrive, we have few tools to explain what they are seeing. That’s where interpretive signage comes in.

The local byway committee is working with Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to place a kiosk and some interpretive signage along the byway. The committee hopes to announce the locations soon. Funding came from a federal grant KDWPT received. While the final project value has yet to be determined, it will be in the tens of thousands.

Land and Sky Scenic Byway finished its designation process just in time to be included in the grant funds. But additional interpretive signage depends on local funding.

The General Store
The General Store in Sharon Springs is a piece of Americana. Buy gifts, antiques and bulk items.

Please help the byway tell our communities’ stories

Please help Land and Sky Scenic Byway Committee tell our communities’ stories. Come to the fundraiser, have a great time and bring people who will leave their money in Cheyenne, Sherman and Wallace counties. Investing in the byway is investing in our communities’ future.