KU News Release

May 10, 2011
Contact: Mike Krings, University Relations, 785-864-8860

Wheat State Whirlwind Tour to visit wind farm, Lucas, Palco, WaKeeney May 24

More Information

LAWRENCE — The 2011 Wheat State Whirlwind Tour will stop in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties, Lucas, Palco, Nicodemus and WaKeeney on Tuesday, May 24, the second day of the tour.

The Wheat State Whirlwind Tour takes nearly 50 KU faculty and staff, many new to Kansas, on a five day tour to learn more about the state’s history, culture, economy and geography.

Now in its 13th year, the tour visits more than 20 communities and travels nearly 1,500 miles on its annual trek. It is sponsored by Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

The second day’s travels will begin with a visit to the Smoky Hills Wind Farm. Gordon Homeier, a local farmer and landowner, will speak with the group about the wind farm’s operations and his experiences owning land on which the farms turbines are located. Covering more than 14,000 acres in Lincoln and Ellsworth counties, the project is a leader in helping establish Kansas on the forefront of sustainable energy technology.

From the wind farm, the bus will depart for Lucas, with a tour around Lake Wilson. The lake, just north of Interstate 70, primarily in Russell County, is a prime example of experiences available to those willing to get off the beaten path. Featuring scenic canyons and ridges, the lake demonstrates the state’s diverse topography and natural beauty.

Upon arrival in Lucas, in Russell County, the tour participants will get a look at some of Kansas’ finest folk art. Visitors will stop in at the Grassroots Arts Center, home to a collection of unique art constructed from materials as diverse as barbed wire, pop tabs, cattle skulls and traditional media. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit the Garden of Eden, former home of Civil War veteran J.P. Dinsmoor, and his concrete sculptures representing biblical and political scenes. The Deeble House and Rock Garden is another popular stop for tourgoers.

From Lucas, the bus will travel on to Palco in Rooks County. Hometown of tour director Don Steeples, the McGee Distinguished Professor of Geophysics, Palco residents will share their successes in distance education, economic development and agriculture. Residents will have a lunch catered by Ruthanne Bigge at Town Hall. Tourgoers will then visit Palco Public School to learn more about its work in distance education and the challenges facing small town schools. Visitors will also stop at the Palco Grain Elevator and Steeples’ wheat farm for a closer look at Kansas agriculture.

The day’s next stop will be in Damar, also in Rooks County. The community, settled by French Canadian immigrants, restored part of the downtown to an old-world look and feel in 2007.

Nicodemus, the historic African-American settlement in Graham County, will be the tour’s next stop. The community was settled by African-American pioneers in the late 19th century and thrived for many years. It has since been designated a national historic site by the National Park Service and lives on as a tribute to African-Americans who helped settle the American west.

The day’s final stop will be in WaKeeney, in Trego County. The group will have dinner at the Western Cooperative Electric Association.

Tour participants will share their insights on the trip on Twitter. Visit twitter.com/kuwheatstate May 23-27 for daily updates, impressions from participants and more. To view daily itineraries, maps of this year’s route and photos of previous tours, visit www.wheatstate.ku.edu.

Itinerary for Tuesday, May 24

7:15 a.m. – Load bus
8 a.m. – Arrive for tour of Smoky Hills Wind Farm
8:30 a.m. – Depart wind farm, tour around Lake Wilson
9:30 a.m. – Arrive in Lucas; drive by Garden of Eden; tour Grassroots Arts Center, Deeble House and Rock Garden
10:30 a.m. – Depart Lucas for Palco
11:30 a.m. – Arrive at Palco High School
12:15 p.m. – Lunch at Town Hall with local residents
1:15 p.m. – Palco Grain Elevator
2:10 p.m. – Arrive at Steeples Wheat Farm
3 p.m. – Depart Steeples Wheat Farm
3:15 p.m. – Arrive in Damar for tour of French Village Neighborhood Community Center
3:50 p.m. – Depart Damar
4 p.m. – Arrive in Nicodemus
4:40 p.m. – Depart Nicodemus
5:30 p.m. – Arrive in WaKeeney
6:15 p.m. – Dinner at Western Cooperative Electric Association

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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