A Place to Call Home

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Is there any better feeling than being “home”? One of the reasons we created Love Small Town America is because we want to help people find that place where they feel that sense of comfort, acceptance, and community. We received an enquiry from someone looking for that special place. Rather than tell you about the people we want to help, we thought we’d let the story speak for itself. Continue reading

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.

Help Bart and Rorie Discover the Best of Small Town America

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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!

www.BartonRussell.com
www.facebook.com/EverythingSmallTown

Cruise, Shoes & Barbecues – A Small Town Celebration Worth Remembering

Classic cars are the "Cruise" part of the Cruise, Shoes & BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS. The car show draws participants from all around.

This post is brought to you by Nicole Godek, CEO and Founder of Love Small Town America. 

My husband has a very creative mind. The ideas he comes up with typically don’t pan out, but it’s always entertaining to hear what he’s thinking. On occasion, one of his ideas works really well, however. Cruise, Shoes & BBQs is one of them.

Living in Grainfield, we often hear people say, “Remember Ag Days? They were so fun!” Fair-style rides. Parades and marching bands. Vendors in the park. Tons of people coming from all over. The image of Ag Days is still fresh in my mind. As I shared memories of that event with Dan, the wheels started turning on how to bring people to Grainfield again. Dan’s passion for BBQ seemed like an easy start. Then we added the rhyming words “Cruise” and “Shoes”. And Cruise, Shoes & BBQs was born.

Some of the volunteers behind the Cruise, Shoes and BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS.

The first year Grainfield’s Harvest Market hosted the event with help from family and friends. The response was amazing! But we needed more hands to grow it. So, the Grainfield Community Development Committee took over and Cruise, Shoes & BBQs will celebrate 5 years next Memorial Day weekend!

This year marked Cruise, Shoes & BBQs’ 4th anniversary. The fundraiser is always hosted over Memorial Day weekend and this year, the two days were packed with entertainment. Friday evening featured a social in the park, vending from the BBQ teams, and a live performance at the historic Opera House (hosted by the Lions Club & Opera House Committee).

Saturday started with cars, motorcycles and a boat cruising in for the namesake Car Show. The barbecue competition is a big part of the weekend, and the aroma of BBQ in the air easily draws in a crowd! Horseshoes began around 10 A.M. on Saturday as did the kids’ activities.

Smoke pours out of the competitors' area where teams craft their best barbecue entries to be judged at the annual BBQ competition.

After a full day of fun, the barbecue competition awards presentation began at 3 P.M. with the buffet at 4:30 P.M. The buffet draws a big crowd since everyone wants to sample the BBQ teams’ pork and brisket. Then we rounded out the day with a dance. This year we offered a live performance from Uncle Turtle and the Live Action (a Gove County favorite) and it was a big hit.

A clown was on hand as part of the kids' activities at the annual Memorial Day weekend fundraiser. The clown was such a hit, he has already been booked for next year's event!

If we could have picked the worst day out of the year for weather, I think we did. There are only so many things you can plan ahead for and weather is not one of them. But despite the 50mph gusts and 100 degree temperature, everyone had a positive attitude. We are grateful that Marvin Beougher let us move the live music and dance into the American Legion. That saved us…and the many people that stuck around after the buffet.

Festivities carried on long into the night after the BBQ competition with a dance. The Grainfield American Legion generously allowed the event to move inside due to high winds. What a wonderful show of community support and fellowship!

My favorite part of the event is probably seeing so many people in Grainfield having a great time. We’re starting to make a name for ourselves and see people return year after year. It reminds me of “Cheers” when everyone yelled “Norm!” It’s those personal relationships that mean the most.

This year we added a clown and the kids loved him! He was amazing and his wife painted some incredible face art. (We’ve already booked them for next year!) We’re making improvements for next year, hoping to make it a Saturday/Sunday event instead of Friday/Saturday. We lose a lot of people to the high school state track meet (helpers and attendees) so we’re hoping to gain them back. Plus, by moving the event to Saturday/Sunday, BBQ teams and volunteers won’t have to take off work Friday.

An authentic native American tipi was on display during this year's 4th annual Cruise, Shoes & BBQs fundraiser in Grainfield, KS, withstanding high temperatures and even higher wind gusts.

I think people should come out to our event because you never know what you’re going to see in our small town. Last year we had a pig dancing on the dance floor. This year we had an authentic Tipi in the park (that withstood the wind!). Who knows what you’ll see next year. But guaranteed you’ll have a great time. And 40 years from now, hopefully we’ll hear people say, “Remember Cruise, Shoes & BBQs? That was so fun!”

-Nicole

 

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

Walking a Path Toward a Healthier Future

Love Small Town America supports communities fighting cancer.

This year's Walk-A-Thon For Health currently seeking sponsors for August 2012 event.

One of the things that we’re so proud to share with small towns is a strong sense of community spirit and mutual support, through the good times and the bad. Every year, millions of Americans struggle with cancer. Associated costs for treatment, like hospital stays, transportation, and other costs can become nearly as overwhelming as the illness itself.

Walk-A-Thon for health provides a path to support neighbors with cancer, raising funds Saturday August 11, 2012 to support Gove and Trego County residents who have been diagnosed with cancer.

The Walk-A-Thon will take place Saturday August 11, 2012 from 5:30 PM until 11:30 PM. The Walk-A-Thon is currently seeking sponsors for the event. In 2011, the charity fundraiser was able to raise more than $33,000 that stayed locally to help individuals battling cancer and was able to raise another $10,000 that went to fund cancer charities.

This year, the Walk-A-Thon for health plans to donate proceeds to Walk-A-Thon for Health cancer patients, Ronald McDonald/Other Designated Hospital Stays, KU Med-Center cancer research, KU Med Center heart research, Special Olympics (local people), Child Passenger Safety (local children).

Cash donations or in-kind donations to support the 2012 Walk-A-Thon for health are appreciated. Contact Kay Goetz for more information.

 

Kay Goetz

Gove County Corporate Chairman

5042 E. Road 130 S

Park, Kansas 67751

(785) 673 – 4304

Love Small Town America – Weekend Edition (5/18-5/20/2012)

What’s going on in small town America this weekend? We’ve pulled a few events from our handy community event calendar so you can see what’s going on this weekend in your great small town – or one a few miles down the round.

Friday May 18

Happy Hour at Mainstreet Dugout (Grainfield, KS)

Start your weekend right! Bring in your Mainstreet Dugout refillable cup from 2:00-4:00 PM and get a refill for only $1 plus tax.

 

Friday May 18-Sunday May 20

Paint Sale at Grinnell Farm and Home (Grinnell, KS)

Dig a discount on a DIY weekend with a coupon for 10% off paint at Grinnell Farm and Home. The limit is 5 gallons – so you’ll still have time to relax once you get a coat on the walls!

 

Saturday May 19

Annual Spring Cleanup (Quinter, KS)

 

Sunday May 20

2-Man Scramble (Quinter, KS)

It’s a perfect day to spend on the greens at the 2-Man Scramble starting at 1 PM at the Quinter Golf Course.

 

Sunday May 20

Baseball and Softball Practices (Grainfield, KS)

Head out to Beougher Ball Field from 3:00-5:00 PM for a leisurely afternoon watching America’s pastime.

 

Sunday May 20

Bingo (Grainfield, KS)

Round out your weekend with bingo at Grainfield’s American Legion, beginning at 7:00 PM.

How will you show your small town love this weekend? Share your plans with us!

Don’t see the destination you had in mind? 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

 

Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Even in a small town, life has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes. Some of you may already be prepared to shower the moms in your life with a day of special treatment, but for those of you who are just realizing that Sunday (May 13) is Mother’s Day, we’ve gathered a few suggestions that may make your last minute shopping a little less hectic.

1.) Give Mom the Night Off with Harvest Market
Women deserve to be pampered, but sometimes a thoughtful gift that will help ease the burden of a busy life can be just as nice – and even more appreciated! If your wife or mom is always busy caring for others – shuttling the family to sports practice, helping out with community events, and still juggling a household – she’ll appreciate a night off. Stop at Harvest Market in Grainfield and pick up the fixings for a family cooked meal – that you prepare. Not a cook? That’s ok – Harvest Market has party platters and barbecue (read more about Harvest Market) ready to go. While you’re there, snap up a bottle of luxurious body wash or scented soap and let mom take a soak while you round up dinner.

2. Give Mom’s Room a New Look with Grinnell Farm and Home Center
Is there a room in the house that needs a little extra love? Moms often leave themselves to last, so her bedroom might be able to use a little pick-me-up. Grinnell Farm and Home Center in Grinnell, KS is the perfect place to pick up a few remodeling essentials to help transform mom’s bedroom into a relaxing retreat. Through May 31, 2012 use their Love Small Town America coupon to receive 10% off a single purchase of paint up to 5 gallons. Add in a few brushes, rollers,  painter’s tape, and your helping hands to make this gift one mom will remember.

3. Make a Major Home Upgrade with J&J Carpet
Gifts can be practical as well as pretty! Who doesn’t love the sight of gleaming wood floors or beautiful stone tile? Mother’s Day might be the perfect reason to splurge on a home upgrade that will make mom smile long after Sunday. While you’re painting her bedroom, why not think about installing new flooring as well? Whether the whole house is overdue for new carpet, or she has a special spot in mind, J&J Carpet has what you need.

4. Surprise Mom with Special Specs from Kinderknecht Eye Care
Some things are cliches for a reason. Women love accessories and there’s no better time to upgrade eyewear than just in time to get a new look for long summer days. Old prescriptions just won’t do with sports games to watch, flowers to view, and sunsets to admire. New frames or sunglasses will keep mom’s eyes in style. Bring her to Kinderknecht Eye Care to pick out a new pair of frames. Their professional staff will help with all your questions and their great selection will satisfy even the pickiest mom.

5. Time from Little Hoot’s Daycare
Mom loves her kids, but sometimes she would love if she had a second to take a nap, get a manicure, or run some errands. Give the most precious gift of all – TIME – by arranging for mom to get some of it to herself. Little Hoot’s Daycare in Grinnell, Kansas can help with short or long-term solutions ranging from drop-in or after school daycare to full-time. Nutritious snacks and educational activities for the youngsters will help mom to breathe easy and enjoy her time to herself knowing her children are in good hands.

We hope one of these ideas sparks your imagination. Share your Mother’s Day plans and photos with us on our facebook page

Moms – which of these gifts would you like best? Leave a comment with your favorite!

 

What can businesses learn from small towns?

A new book, Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy, examines the lessons that businesses can learn from small towns. Small Town Rules argues that the interconnectedness of a global, web-based system of commerce where, “your customers can talk to everyone else,” presents similar challenges and opportunities to those of a small town, where, it could be argued, everyone talks to everyone else, too.

Small Town Rules

The book is co-authored by Becky McCray and Barry Molz, two digital heavyweights who have used the interconnectedness of the web-based system of exchange to foster respective careers in rural small business advocacy and entrepreneurship. Together they have outlined seven rules that businesses can learn from small towns and shared them in this book.

Whether or not the seven lessons revealed in this new book are ground-shaking epiphanies or statements of common sense remains to be seen; it’s not available until April, although you can pre-order now on Amazon.com. However, the symbiotic relationship between small towns and businesses is one that resonates with us at Love Small Town America. What do you think a business could learn from your small town? Tell us in the comments.

If you can’t wait until April, Small Town Rules co-author, Becky McCray, will preview her new book at the Social Media Tulsa Conference March 15-16, 2012.

 

Gift Ideas that Go a Little Further

At this time of year, our thoughts are often on giving gifts, whether small or large. With every dollar counting more than ever, how can you stretch yours to go as far as possible while still taking care of the ones you love? Buy local. Buy small. Buy American. 

Tim Mitchell in Northwest Earth Institute’s Choices for Sustainable Living states, ‘A dollar spent at a locally owned store is usually spent 6 to 15 times before it leaves the community. From $1, you create $5 to $14 in value within that community. Conversely‘Spend $1 at a national chain store, and 80% leaves town immediately.’

 

Even if you’re only spending a single dollar – maybe to buy a bar of chocolate for a friend – if you buy it at your local grocery store, you are generating an economic ripple that can make that single dollar bill worth up to $15 dollars! Talk about some happy holidays!

This is exactly the kind of math that Love Small Town America wants to help everyone calculate. So, we rounded up a few of our businesses to share some creative gift ideas on our facebook and twitter pages that would not only make someone on your list smile – but that would make waves in your community’s economy. Here are all our ideas in one convenient location (Hint: feel free to print!)

Gift Idea #1: Gift certificates to Main Street Dugout in Grainfield
Don’t live in Grainfield? Buy a gift certificate to your local diner or pub. A $40 dinner could make up to $600 worth of difference in your community – and, your support can make a real difference to the owners.

Gift Idea #2: Custom vinyl decal from B’s Ultimate Finish in Grainfield
Many local print shops or automotive boutiques now offer custom vinyl decals. Decorate a car window or add some flair to a kid’s room, classroom, or even the ‘man-cave’.

Gift Idea #3: Brisket and pulled pork from Harvest Market 
Rural grocery stores need your support. Find a speciality item to gift or stick with high-quality basics that are always welcome (think European baking chocolate, bottled olives, and other delicacies). If you don’t have a grocery store nearby, try a restaurant or coffee shop for seasonal food gifts.

 

Gift Idea #4: Auto parts or car washing supplies from Jack’s
Even if cars aren’t *your* thing, there is a good chance you know someone who loves them or would appreciate a practical gift like an oil change or car wash – on you.

Gift Idea #5: A gift with real power: a gift certificate to Old 40 Depot to put a dent in paying for a new skid loader

We think these gifts would be great for just about anyone – especially those hard-to-shop-for men on our lists! – and will be long remembered, and appreciated. Whether you gather inspiration from this list or have something else in mind, remember that when your dollar stays in town, it grows.

Love Small Town America would like you to be our friend on facebook. Click here to see our page and click ‘like’ to join the conversation. We have big plans to offer our facebook friends exclusive giveaways, promotions, and contests. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Who can say no to that?! www.facebook.com/lovesmalltownamerica