Eight Kansas ROZ Communities Awarded Scholarships by the Kansas Department of Commerce to Create Websites

It’s here! It’s here! The day has finally arrived when we can share with you the new communities that will be joining Love Small Town America as a result of the Rural Opportunity Zone website scholarships! Keep reading for the full text of our news release!

Eight Kansas ROZ Communities Awarded Scholarships by the Kansas Department of Commerce to Create Websites

Grainfield, Kansas, June 24, 2013 — Love Small Town America, Inc., an online network for small towns, announces eight Rural Opportunity Zone communities were awarded website scholarships by the Kansas Department of Commerce (KDOC). The KDOC sponsored a limited number of scholarships that pay for ROZ community webpages on www.LoveSmallTownAmerica.com and membership in the Love Small Town America network. Four counties and four cities in Kansas were awarded website scholarships. Counties: Ness County, Republic County, Sheridan County, and Smith County. Cities: Bird City, Courtland, Hoxie, and Lebanon.

All eight of the selected communities participate in the Kansas Rural Opportunity Zone program. The website scholarship awards were made by the Kansas Department of Commerce after a competitive application process.

“In the past, our community has not had a strong online presence or a central location for community members to find community information. That is what we hope our Love Small Town America sites will become for our community. Our goal was to create a sustainable website that the community interacts with and we are excited to see how it will grow through Love Small Town America,” said Julianne Shoup, Sheridan County K-State Extension Agent.

Webpages for Hoxie and Sheridan County are already online. The other six community webpages will be online during summer 2013. These eight ROZ communities join eight other Kansas communities on the Love Small Town America network, which is expanding nationwide.

“I’m ecstatic to bring eight fellow ROZ communities to Love Small Town America. This not only means providing a place for their residents and nearby townspeople to go to find information about events and businesses, but also provides more options for the audience that visits the Love Small Town America site looking for a small town to settle in or visit,” said Nicole Godek, LSTA CEO.

The scholarship is designed to provide another powerful tool for ROZ communities to recruit new residents by providing a package of webpages to establish a community portal on www.LoveSmallTownAmerica.com. This opens the door for other community attractions, including businesses, churches, schools, organizations, and more, to have a web presence as well.

“The Smith County Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) does not have a website and we are so grateful for the opportunity to more widely advertise the events and places of interest throughout Smith County. Many already know of the great hunting and fishing, but there are lesser-known places of interest that have not gotten recognition before. We want to get the word out that it’s easy to come and experience Smith County, Kansas,” said Cindy Stones, Smith County CVB member.

Love Small Town America is dedicated to providing small towns with an affordable, comprehensive online presence and access to a national network of small town promotional opportunities and resources. Love Small Town America integrates a comprehensive website package with free advertising for members and rich features like job listings, a community calendar, and a photo gallery.

“As our network continues to grow, so do the opportunities and the future for our small towns and counties. It’s a win-win situation in my eyes. Plus, I’m excited to utilize the site to see what events my family can venture to. I’ve always said every small town has a treasure, whether it’s a unique business, fun event or great restaurant. Now it’ll be easy to find them!” said Godek.

Love Small Town America’s mission and experience with web design spurred a partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce in order to offer more communities a resource to make their efforts to grow successful.

For more information about joining Love Small Town America, contact:

   Luke Mahin, Sales

E-mail: Luke@LoveSmallTownAmerica.com

Phone: 785-374-3067

About Love Small Town America:

Love Small Town America, Inc. is a Grainfield, Kansas based online network for small towns founded by Nicole Godek providing full-service online solutions for small towns to get their town, local businesses, real estate offerings, events calendar, and more online and to promote their needs and assets while also building an international network that members can leverage to reach their goals.  Love Small Town America provides professional and innovative webpage design, content writing, webpage updates, website marketing, web hosting, website maintenance, SEO, website renovations, and social media advertising for members. All-inclusive webpage packages start at $225 annually. For more information, visit www.LoveSmallTownAmerica.com.

About Nicole Godek:

Nicole Godek graduated from Kansas State with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. Since then Nicole has worked as a designer at large and small firms across the country before founding her own graphic and web design business, StirStick Studio. As CEO and founder for Love Small Town America, Nicole oversees a team of professionals located across the Midwest as she pursues the mission of bringing small town America online and into the future. Love Small Town America assists small communities, businesses, and organizations by integrating cutting edge web programming with modern marketing concepts to make professional web pages affordable for small towns and increasing their reach through the power of the Love Small Town America network.

Celebrate 5 Years of Cruise, Shoes & BBQs in Grainfield!

Colorful cars line Grainfield for the "Cruise" heralded in Cruise, Shoes & BBQs.

Colorful cars line Grainfield for the “Cruise” heralded in Cruise, Shoes & BBQs.

Cruise, Shoes & BBQs – it’s the small town event that keeps people coming back for more. The small town of Grainfield, KS, population a mere 277, plays host every Memorial Day weekend to one of the biggest bashes in the region. Originally hosted by Grainfield’s Harvest Market, the event was taken over by Grainfield Community Development Committee in the 2nd year in order to grow it into a flagship event for the town. This year marks the 5th anniversary of CSBBQs – as it’s called by natives – and it promises to be another full 2 days of fun. This year, the event has been moved to Saturday/Sunday but promises the same fierce horseshoe competition, mouthwatering barbecue, and eye-catching car show that attendees love.

All aboard the Nex-tech express! Kids can enjoy a train ride from this popular attraction.

All aboard the Nex-tech express! Kids can enjoy a train ride from this popular attraction.

We’re going behind the scenes with two of the events original organizers, Dan Godek and Kay Hartman Haffner, to find out the secrets to CSBBQs’ success.

1.) It’s not every day you hear a name like, “Cruise, Shoes and BBQs” (CSBBQ). Where did the idea for this event come from?

Dan: “I had competed at my very first BBQ competition in Studley, KS at the Cottonwood Ranch and enjoyed it very much. One morning I was discussing it with “The Coffee Drinkers” at Harvest Market and said to them, “Why don’t we organize our own BBQ competition in Grainfield?” One guy said we should include a car show. Then, I added that we should get the horseshoe pits going again and highlight them that weekend. Next I was throwing together some names and scribbled down on a sheet of paper, “Cruise, Shoes & BBQs.” So let it be written, so let it be done. Just a few short months later, cars were rolling into the city park as smoke rolled out.”

2.) With a BBQ competition in the mix, food must be an important part of CSBBQ. Where can attendees find the best “eats”? 

Dan: “This year I highly recommend a slice of homemade pie from Ramrod Cooking Crew! Smokin Sprays team captain Roy Sprays makes his own fresh sausage, slow smokes it, then grills it, then puts it on a stick. And who doesn’t love meat on a stick! Of course, the BBQ buffet features all the competition teams’ meat… beef brisket and pulled pork.”

The mouthwatering aroma of BBQ fills the city park for two days.

The mouthwatering aroma of BBQ fills the city park for two days.

3.) Can you tell us where the BBQ teams are coming from?

Dan: “They’re descending on us from Grainfield, Grinnell, Gove, Hoxie, Selden, Oakley, Hays, and… Colorado Springs!”

4.) All the festivities at CSBBQs sound like fun. But, if you had to pick one event, what would you say is a “can’t miss”? 

Dan: “The GCDC held back nothing for this 5 year anniversary… Paramount is coming to Grainfield! Paramount is an ‘80’s cover band out of Hays & Salina. They perform in Kansas City, Lawrence, Manhattan, Salina, Hays, Colby and of course the pinnacle of their careers, the piece de resistance, their crowning moment, their epic climax will be their one night stand in G-Town!!  If you liked the ‘80’s, you’ll love Paramount!

Kay: “I agree 100% with Dan, Paramount will be the best part of weekend. Nothing better then a slab dance to a live band!”

Pony rides in the park are a favorite event.

Pony rides in the park are a favorite event.

Photo opportunities abound at Cruise, Shoes & BBQs!

Photo opportunities abound at Cruise, Shoes & BBQs!

5.) CSBBQs is full of great events for adults, but what can kids look forward to at this year’s event?

Kay: “Saturday will feature the sand volleyball tournament aimed at older kids aged 15 and up. Then on Sunday, Bumpy Knuckles the Clown and Miss Rebecca the very talented face-painting artist will return for the second year. We will also have pony rides, games and prizes, and the Nex-tech train. A local boyscout troup will be selling delicious sno cones both Saturday and Sunday.”

A devilish pig got into many comical situations at a past CSBBQ event.

A devilish pig got into many comical situations at a past CSBBQ event.

6.) This is CSBBQ 5th anniversary. What’s the most unusual thing you’ve seen during the past 5 years of CSBBQ? 

Dan: “The Dancing Pig!  Two years ago I busted out my full body pig costume and got a little jiggy with it. Several friends and relatives took turns in the pig suit and things got crazy. Long story short, Nicole [Godek, Dan’s wife and LSTA CEO] has promised we’re never doing that again.”

Kay: “Last year one of our BBQ teams camped out in an authentic Native American teepee. The wind that night reached over 50 mph and the results were tree limbs down, fences broken, destruction to buildings…. but, the teepee stood the storm!  I couldn’t believe it.”

An authentic Native American teepee sheltered one BBQ team from devastating winds - and attracted quite a bit of attention!

An authentic Native American teepee sheltered one BBQ team from devastating winds – and attracted quite a bit of attention!

From the Grainfield Community Development Committee Webpage:

Cruise, Shoes & BBQs – May 25 & 26, 2013
2013 marks our 5th year and we have a lot of exciting things happening! To accommodate our event-goers and make the best of the holiday weekend, we are moving our 2-day event to Saturday/Sunday. Including our unique car show, horseshoe tournament and fierce bbq competition, we’ll also have:

  • Paramount – 80s Tribute Rock Band playing live Sunday night. So join us as we rock to the 80s (big hair optional)
  • Lots of kids activities available including a repeat appearance from Bumpy Knuckles the Clown.
  • A co-ed sand volleyball tournament will bring fun in the sun
  • And so much more!

Click here to learn more.

We are always growing our network of small towns, organizations, and businesses. If you’re interested in joining Love Small Town America and getting an affordable home on our small town network, e-mail us to get started or learn more here

LoveSmallTownAmerica.com Mothers Are…

Yes, Mothers’ Day was yesterday. But, here at LoveSmallTownAmerica.com, we celebrate the amazing women in our lives every day of the year. Small towns are full of hardworking mothers who care for their families and give back to their communities. We wanted to take a moment to celebrate our small town mothers on our blog. We asked for submissions on our Facebook page and got quite the list of shining adjectives to describe LoveSmallTownAmerica.com mothers. Our mothers are all these things and more. Mothers – Love Small Town America appreciates you!

Love Small Town America mothers are all of these things and more. Word cloud courtesy of Wordle.com

Love Small Town America mothers are all of these things and more. Word cloud courtesy of Wordle.com.

Get the Best of the Internet with RSS

RSS feed

“Subscribe” to RSS Feeds from Love Small Town America Community Calendars.

Instead of browsing the internet, checking websites for updates and new content, wouldn’t it be great if you could instantly access the latest from your favorite sites? RSS (Often believed to stand for “Really Simple Syndication”) is technology that delivers up-to-date information from your favorite websites directly to you – in a format that saves you time and is saved for you to review at your leisure. Think of it is a subscription version of a news feed.

Using RSS feeds can not only make your internet browsing experience more fun – you can use them with Love Small Town America to keep up-to-date on important things like:

  • Updates to community calendars – know if the time of an event is changed!
  • New events on community calendars
  • To receive the latest from our blog about small town life and new LSTA opportunities

How to Use RSS

Depending on what type of computer and internet browser you’re using to surf the web, there are a few different ways of using RSS.

Get an RSS Reader – A variety of free “reader” programs exist online to aggregate the content you desire. Bloglines is a popular option, but there are many programs to try (search for “RSS Reader”). Using a reader allows you to “subscribe” to feeds from your favorite websites. New, unread content from the sites you’ve subscribed to will show up in your reader with bold headings. You can read all your content within the reader, instead of going to dozens of different websites, or click through to visit the site. It’s easy to track what you’ve read and notifications of new content is instant.

Clicking the "Subscribe" button on a webpage or blog will add that site to your reader.

Clicking the “Subscribe” button on a webpage or blog will add that site to your reader.

Use Your Internet Browser – Many internet browsers now have built-in RSS capability. You can use the “in-browser” reader directly through your browser, or you can use your browser preferences to designate an alternate RSS reader program (see above). If your browser visits a website with an RSS feed, the address bar will often display a “reader” graphic or another designation that lets you know that page has a feed. You can add content to your RSS reader by clicking the graphics during your web surfing session and read the marked content later.

In Safari, text like "RSS" or "Reader" appears in a blue  box on the right hand side of the address bar. Clicking it adds the current webpage to your feed.

In Safari, text like “RSS” or “Reader” appears in a blue box on the right hand side of the address bar. Clicking it adds the current webpage to your feed.

Deliver Straight to E-mail: Many websites also allow you to subscribe to RSS feeds via e-mail, if you don’t want to use an RSS reader. By subscribing via e-mail, you can get a daily summary of latest posts delivered straight to your inbox. Not all RSS feeds are available this way, but it can be a great way to get digests of information in a convenient format.


Annual Race Celebrates Lifetime Fitness in Quinter, KS

runner in field

THE FUN RUNNER Here’s a fellow out for a run He takes it easy and its great fun. He may go one, three, or ten miles – He’ll be back late but all in smiles. If challenged to a race, He can set a fast pace. His moves are gentle, rhythmic and free, Whether he’s 14, 15, or 83. -Waldo McBurney

The annual Waldo McBurney 5K, 10K, 1 mile (marathon mile) and 200 meter kid’s race will be held in Quinter, KS on June 8, 2013. The race is sponsored by Castle Rock Wellness Center and has grown into a popular event for all ages.

“Participants have ranged in age from 2 to 85 over the years,” said one of the race organizers, Shelly Gruenbacher.

The race is named after Waldo McBurney, a Quinter resident who took up long distance running at age 65 and made waves internationally competing as a runner into his 100s before finally passing away in 2009 at age 106.

“Mr. McBurney himself really embodied our mission of ‘life-long fitness in Gove County’,” said Gruenbacher. McBurney was known for being America’s oldest worker, walking to his  office most days of the week even in his 100s.

The same group, including Gruenbacher, who organized the first Waldo race 6 years ago also rallied support for the Castle Rock Wellness Center. Now, the race serves as a fundraiser for the health and wellness facility. Participation has grown to well over 250 each year, said Gruenbacher, with many walkers and runners without local ties making the annual trek to Quinter.

This year, the race includes a 200-meter fun run for kids, a 1-mile walk/run for kids and adults, a 5K and a 10K. The 5K and 10K will kick off the races at 8:00 a.m. in the city park, with the 1-mile following at 9:30 a.m. and concluding with the 200m run at 10 a.m.

runners at Waldo McBurney race

The Waldo McBurney race is fun for all ages of walkers and runners.

All kids younger than 12 will receive a medal for participating, plus many children will complete a marathon mile that will be awarded at the end of the race. Grade school children will finish the final mile of a marathon, completed in short increments over the course of the months preceding the race, explained Gruenbacher.

racers at the finish line

All kids under age 12 will receive a medal.

“The variety of distances makes it a perfect race for any fitness level. Some years we have even had long term care staff or the Hope House kids pushing nursing home patients in wheelchairs across the finish line!”

A pastoral park setting adjacent to a community playground makes for a perfect family event. The Gove County Medical Center Is sponsoring a community health fair at the park and nearby city building to correspond with the race.

“This race and the fitness center itself would not be a reality without help from sponsors, donors, and volunteers all coming together to work for something positive in our community,” said Gruenbacher.

More information, including registration documents, is available online here.

Highlights of Hoxie, Kansas

Hoxie Kansas welcome sign

Welcome to Hoxie!

“Good crops and great families” is the motto in Hoxie, Kansas. Here, the pioneer spirit that founded this farming enclave never died. Closely tied to the community traditions  of  Sheridan County, Kansas, where Hoxie is located, Hoxie is the largest town in the county. Hoxie’s population is around 1,200, hitting a Goldilocks-esque “just right” size for this easy going community.

buffalo in Hoxie Kansas

Hoxie, Kansas – where the buffalo still, literally, roam.

Hoxie is known for working hard, like its entrepreneurs and progressive business district, and playing hard, too. Hoxie’s proximity to Sheridan State Fishing Lake, numerous community festivals and events, parks, and ample recreational opportunities make it easy to kick back.

Sheridan County Fair

The Sheridan County Fair is an annual treat.

The friendly neighborhood vibe and safe, quiet streets entice families to make their home in Hoxie, where kids grow up in the school systems’ outstanding athletic tradition. Opportunities for involvement abound, and even adults get in on the action with Hoxie’s numerous clubs or by helping run the volunteer-operated carnival ride at the Sheridan County Fair. For 1,200 Kansans, Hoxie offers a perfect slice of prairie life. Why don’t you plan a visit and find out why?


A fisherman proudly displays his catch from the waters of the state lake – within easy proximity of Hoxie.

To learn more about what awaits you in Hoxie, Kansas, visit their official webpage on Love Small Town America and find out why Hoxie might be the place for you. County webpages on LSTA offer residents and visitors information about the county’s geography, history, events, businesses, and more.

Have you visited Hoxie or Sheridan County? Share your favorite highlights with us in the comments! 

We are always growing our network of small towns, organizations, and businesses. If you’re interested in joining Love Small Town America and getting an affordable home on our small town network, e-mail us to get started or learn more here

Highlights of Sheridan County

Sunset in Sheridan County

A strong agricultural tradition dating to settlers who populated the land in the 1860s-1880s is part of Sheridan County’s identity.

A tradition of living off the land and celebrating earth’s bounty with a tight-knit community defines Sheridan County, Kansas. With a population of right around 2,500, Sheridan County is a cozy destination in Northwest Kansas home to several towns, including Hoxie, Selden, Studley, Tasco, and others. With access to great fishing, recreation, and community involvement opportunities, Sheridan County is a place its residents are proud to call home.

Share it from the Rooftops – New Features on LSTA

Share pages and content, like new job postings, with the networks you use the most!

Share pages and content, like new job postings, with the networks you use the most!

We’re excited to announce that several new features are fully operational throughout our site! If you’ve visited recently, you may have noticed some new buttons at the top of each page.

New features allow visitors to share pages, subscribe to events, and more.

New features allow visitors to share pages, subscribe to events, and more.

Visitors to any of Love Small Town America’s community and business pages can now share specific content on a variety of networks. The above screen capture shows the options available on the community calendar page. You can share events on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and more —  AND you can even subscribe to receive updates via RSS feed. That means that residents of Quinter, for example, could subscribe to the Quinter calendar, and then be notified instantly each time an event in their community is added or changed.

On the far right, the iCal button allows visitors to add events directly to their Apple iCal, making it easy for everyone to stay in synch. Imagine you’re at the grocery store, and your iPhone buzzes, letting you know your son’s baseball game this weekend was canceled in time for you to pick up extra snacks for him and his friends – who you now know will be hanging around the house! With these new features – that’s a real possibility!

Pin it! You can even pin content from LoveSmallTownAmerica.com directly to Pinterest.

Pin it! You can even pin content from LoveSmallTownAmerica.com directly to Pinterest.

Or, the new sharing options make it a breeze to share, remember, or promote anything on our site. You could pin photos of a small town that you’d like to visit to your Pinterest “Vacations” board. Or, maybe you saw a job posting that would be perfect for someone you know. With a click, you can e-mail it straight to them, or post it on their Facebook page.

These are just a few of the things that you can do with our new features. We designed these with our members in mind, but they give our visitors just as many options. What do you think?


We’re Ready for Our Closeup!

Introducing, the Love Small Town America video! We’re excited to share with you our new video presentation. We hope that this new tool makes it easier than ever for communities to share the LSTA advantage with their local stakeholders and get back on the map with a LSTA membership and website package.

Watch here:

Can you guess whose voice you’re hearing?

Help Bart and Rorie Discover the Best of Small Town America

Screen Shot 2013-02-15 at 11.15.48 AM

Bart Russell was called the “voice of small town America” by none other than Ronald Reagan. So, why does he need your help?

After retiring last year from a career in small town advocacy, Russell is taking his passion for small towns in a new direction – quite possibly, in your direction.

As leader of the municipal advocacy group Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST), Russell served for 18 years bringing small town issues to prominence. During that time, he also served as CEO of the National Association of Towns and president of its National Center for Small Communities.

Now, Russell is taking politics out of the equation and promising to shine a light on the 144 million small town residents in America and what they have to offer as part of a venture he calls “Everything Small Town.”

The mission: Everything Small Town™ shines a global spotlight on promising projects and programs designed to make America’s 30,000, plus smaller communities better places in which to live, work and do business.

Now, Everything Small Town™ is hitting the road for its inaugural “Discover Small Town America” tour this June. They’ll be heading to the west coast taking Route 40 to SoCal for 4th of July weekend and returning via Route 70 to the east coast in late July.

In between, they’ll be soaking up as much of small town America as they can.

Says Russell, “We’ve received invitations from wonderful people to check out wonderful towns, like Cloudcroft and Ruidoso, NM, Greenville and Dresden OH, Ligonier, IN, Grainfield and other [KS] towns. Some of you have said you’ll get back with your recommendations for experiencing the best of small town America on byways close to I-40 and I-70 in Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio. WE CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM YOU…”

We here at Love Small Town America would love to show them what OUR great small towns have to offer. Have an idea on where Bart and Rorie Russell should stop on their Everything Small Town journey? Let them know, via their Facebook page.

“We’re really looking forward to meeting some new friends, visiting their hometowns and shining the spotlight on some amazing people and places. Thanks for all the offers of hospitality you’ve extended!” says Russell.

“We would love to have your thoughts, recommendations and your “likes” at Everything Small Town™.”

Let’s show Everything Small Town some “LOVE”…Small Town America, that is!