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

Grainfield Kansas’ Historic Opera House Gets Modern Addition

The Grainfield Opera House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a stately and historic structure situated in the business district of Grainfield. At various points in its history it has held a private school, mercantile, hosted dances, and even been a car dealership. Now, it is home once more to musical performances and special events.

Lovingly restored by Grainfield, Kansas residents, the historic Grainfield opera house recently gained a new addition that promises to keep patrons happy for years to come.  Continue reading

What’s in a Name…

JanSport’s “Grainfield” messenger bag is a wink at founder Skip Yowell’s small town roots.

This fall, why not show your small town pride by strapping a Grainfield bag to your back? JanSport co-founder Skip Yowell pays homage to his hometown of Grainfield, KS with the name of this stylish and practical messenger bag.

The rugged good looks and all-around utilitarianism of this line of bags named after frontier destinations from Grainfield to Fort Hays to Estes Park make them a great way to tote your gear in style. We love the iPad sleeve and laptop compartment on the Grainfield bag. Why not carry the Grainfield messenger bag on your next vacation through small town America?

Read more about notable Grainfield “alum” Skip Yowell in this story.

Featured Organization: Grainfield’s American Legion A Place for Patriotism, Fun

A Flag waves 24/7 outside the Grainfield American Legion

A flag waves 24/7 outside the Grainfield Kansas American Legion. Image courtesy of social_d via Creative Commons License.

At the Grainfield, KS American Legion (George M. Scott Post 301), visitors can count on three things: food, fellowship, and fun. The American Legion’s webpage on Love Small Town America highlights the heritage of the local chapter.

Grainfield’s Legion Post in Grainfield, Kansas was named in honor of George M. Scott who died October 15, 1918 in France during the First World War. He was the first Gove County soldier to die in the war and is buried at the Gove Cemetery. The Legion was chartered in December of 1920 and currently has 64 members. This organization honors Veterans by providing a Color Guard at funerals and at Memorial Day Services.

Special events offer opportunities for community members to enjoy fellowship. On the last Wednesday of each  month, the American Legion hosts a Stag/Stagette supper. Bingo enthusiasts get their weekly fix each Sunday. A special Father’s Day Dinner celebrates dads. All events are listed on the Grainfield calendar and visitors are always welcome.

The American Legion building is a point of pride for the organization, known for being clean and well kept. It’s the perfect spot to host small town gatherings in Grainfield, where, in the words of American Legion representative Marvin Beougher, “Everybody knows everyone else. It’s very friendly.”

It’s worth a trip to Grainfield to visit the American Legion, where the flag flies outside 24/7 and visitors are always welcome in this friendly community.

Want the world to know about how great your group is? Businesses and organizations from participating Love Small Town America communities are eligible to be featured in an upcoming blog post. Get free publicity for your business, organization, or event as part of the Love Small Town America family. Contact us for more information! 

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!

 

Featured Business: Harvest Market

Owner Dan Godek knows the community of Gove County comes together at Harvest Market.

Love Small Town America is the online home for some of small town America’s best businesses. We’re giving them a chance to share with the world just what makes them so special. Please welcome our very first featured business to the Love Small Town America blog: Harvest Market

Where can you find delicious BBQ meats, household essentials, and a dead rat all in one, convenient location? Residents of Grainfield, Kansas know that Harvest Market is the place to find all of these things – and more!

At Harvest Market, household essentials line the shelves alongside quirky surprises.

Grocery stores are often the heart of small towns, where citizens gather to share the latest news and pick up a loaf of bread. Grainfield finds this in Harvest Market – and a little extra.

Harvest Market has been in operation in Grainfield in some form or another since the late 1920s. Current owners Dan and Nicole Godek have updated the market with energy-efficient equipment and expanded product lines, keeping Harvest Market a viable part of the small town economy while respecting its historic tradition of serving the people of Gove County, KS.

The family-owned store has imbued Harvest Market with a lively spirit that draws in customers from all over the area. Slogans like, “Eggs, Tomatoes, Toilet Paper… Everything You Need to Decorate Your Favorite Neighbor’s House,” and “We Get Up in Your Grill,” are proof that grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore.

Shopping trips become lively excursions at Harvest Market with a little help from the local "wildlife".

Although Harvest Market does have eggs, tomatoes, and toilet paper (and produce, dairy, party trays, beauty products, beer, tobacco, and more), it’s their mouthwatering array of Harvest Market Brand BBQ meats that promises to make summertime special in Kansas. The sight of pulled pork, beef brisket, and BBQ beef fresh from the heartland have wrecked more than one carefully planned dinner menu, but we have a feeling no one is complaining.

Harvest Market brand BBQ draws customers from all around.

Owner Dan Godek draws inspiration from his own children (or maybe from his childlike zest for life!) and makes a shopping excursion to Harvest Market fun for all ages. A big gnome, little gnome, dead hand, and toy rat wander mysteriously about the store every day just waiting to be found. If searching for a toy rat doesn’t sound like your kind of fun, a carnival mirror is an oracle of truth that could provide the answer to whether you should place that candy bar or that bunch of bananas in your shopping cart.

Looking for a great deal?

Coupons rotate frequently at Harvest Market, so check back soon.

Harvest Market rotates coupons on their Love Small Town America site, so check back regularly for updated promotions. Through May 31, 2012, they are offering a bargain on sunflower seeds – perfect for enjoying outside as the weather warms up.

BIGS Sunflower Seeds are on special at Harvest Market this May.

What Does Harvest Market Love About Small Towns?

They’re quiet, peaceful, affordable, friendly, safe, vibrant, caring, and conservative.

What Does Harvest Market Like Best About Love Small Town America?

Harvest Market calls Love Small Town America their home on the web. But it’s more than just good business sense – it’s about good.

“The fact that Love Small Town America is doing good. It’s helping small towns. It’s helping small town businesses. It’s going to give back to its communities through scholarship and grant programs.”

Harvest Market will be giving back to the community themselves, as a sponsor of the 4th annual Cruise, Shoes, and BBQs fundraiser this Memorial Weekend. With food, beer, and fun, it’s a natural fit for Harvest Market.

Harvest Market's friendly grocery aisle gnome.

Do you shop at Harvest Market? Have you ever found the toy rat or tried Harvest Market BBQ? Let us know in the comments! 

Startup Act – An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

Many of you may have heard of the Startup Act – Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Mark Warner’s bipartisan bill designed to jumpstart the economy by instituting five measures that would help increase entrepreneurial activity in various realms. As fellow Kansans and supporters of entrepreneurship, we recently responded when Senator Moran requested letters of support. Entrepreneurship has a *true* trickle down effect that benefits communities and we are living proof of that. We’d like to share with you the letter we sent to Senator Moran:

Dear Senator Moran,

My name is Nicole Godek. When I made the choice to leave corporate careers in graphic design to move home to my native small town of Grainfield, Kansas, I chose to do so for two reasons: 1.) The advantages of small town life; 2.) The means to establish a business that not only allows me the chance to earn a living for my family doing what I do best, but gives me the chance to make a difference. At the heart of it, entrepreneurship is personally satisfying and socially beneficial so when I go to work each morning on making Love Small Town America Inc., (www.lovesmalltownamerica.com) I am also working hard to add benefit to my community and giving it a legacy I can be proud to pass on to my children.

With Love Small Town America , I’ve used my graphic design skills to build a website that serves as a network to promote and catalog small towns and their resources. It serves as an important communication tool for small towns and their businesses – most of whom are locally-owned by entrepreneurs. It may not be easy for a metropolis to see the difference, but when I walk down main street in any small town across America, I see the difference a single entrepreneur can make and the hole they’d leave if they weren’t open for business. I also see the tremendous opportunity for entrepreneurs to grow if given more support and resources, and the ripple effect this has in individual lives, communities, and economies.

Love Small Town America accomplishes three primary things; it provides a cost-effective, controllable way for communities to catalog and publicize their businesses, events, real estate, and more, it helps advertise what resources the community already has, and it helps advertise what assets the community would like to attract. Whether you are fleeing the city like I did and are looking for an available property in a community that suits your lifestyle, or are ready to open a new business in a town that needs your skills, Love Small Town America is able to help.

A lot of small towns have experienced a big surge of people leaving, but Love Small Town America is a place where people can go who want to escape from some of the plights of urban living and have the chance to follow their dreams.

I support the StartUp America Act and what it means for entrepreneurs – and future entrepreneurs – everywhere. My business makes a difference and provides needed services at a competitive price and I know others will as well. Entrepreneurship is good for me, good for my community, and good for America.

Sincerely,

Nicole Godek

CEO of Love Small Town America, Inc.”

 

If you agree, like we do, that taking concrete steps based in solid research to encourage entrepreneurial activity, you can share your opinions as well. Whether through the Startup Act or through other means, it is our duty to request our lawmakers enact policies that facilitate entrepreneurial growth. It’s time to stop stealing big companies from one another in expensive economic development ploys and to grow our own. That’s the way we grow jobs and generate net growth in the economy.

We’d love to hear what you think, though. Are we on the right path – or just plain crazy? Entrepreneurship is having a hey-day at the moment, and we think it’s about time. Is entrepreneurship a buzzword or is this the way to build a stronger America? Let us know in the comments.

Give Your Customers More of What they Want with More Frequent Updates

Main Street Dugout's February 2012 Coupon on Love Small Town America

Choosing is a bit of a Goldilock’s conundrum no matter what you are deciding between. If you hedge your bets, you  may end up with too little of what you need. Or, you may worry about diving into something that is “too big” for you. Love Small Town America offers three different update packages to fit your small business or organization: you can choose to have us update your page annually, monthly, or weekly. Even better, we give you the option to change your mind.

Main Street Dugout, a Grainfield institution we love, recently changed their update frequency from annual to monthly updates and we couldn’t be more excited (and that’s not just because we love to eat there). They are using their webpage on Love Small Town America to begin offering customers a coupon. So, more frequent updates make perfect sense for them- and for their customers.

We can’t wait to see what they do to keep all of us coming back to their webpage for more. Some information, like your address, only needs to be changed once in a while. But if your hours, promotions, merchandise, or other information changes more than once a year, monthly updates may be for you. Changing out photos will keep your page fresh and attract customers.

Updating your webpage more frequently to refresh content like pictures, information, and promotions, makes your webpage a destination visitors will return to again and again. If there were something simple you could do to help generate return business, wouldn’t you want to do it?

Offering a coupon on your Love Small Town America page is just one great idea. How will you make the most of your webpage?

Don’t have a webpage? Let us create one for you today. 

Rural Opportunity Zone Incentives Take Effect January 1, 2012

Would you like to move to a small town? How would you like to move to a small town and pay no income tax for 5 years and get help paying off your student loans? Well, who wouldn’t want that?! If you live outside the state of Kansas and are dying to call a small Kansas town “home”, you may qualify to take advantage of an ingenious new incentive program that is luring people to the heartland.

Small towns in Kansas have taken the Rural Opportunity Zones program and run with it. This program is a creative way to help people take advantage of the benefits of small town living while giving rural counties in Kansas an incentive to attract young professionals and families and reverse the rural brain drain. The program benefits took action as of January 1, 2012.

From the Kansas Department of Commerce: On April 11, 2011, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law the Rural Opportunity Zones (ROZs) program. ROZs are designed to reverse dramatic population declines over the past decade in rural areas of Kansas. The program is a central component of a broader plan by the Brownback Administration to spur economic development and expand job growth in 50 counties around the state. The program took effect July 1, 2011.

With two attractive incentives, moving to a small town just got a lot more enticing. A state income tax exemption applies to individuals moving to an ROZ from outside the state. Forty-four of the fifty participating counties are offering a student loan forgiveness program as well that could net participants up to $15,000 off of their outstanding college loans.

Kansas reported a slight increase in population for the year 2011. By December, more than 150 people had already applied for the ROZ program, so we may see that number continue to rise. Most of the people who leave Kansas move to Texas and the Governor links this out-migration with income taxes. The idea is that ROZs offer an opportunity for Kansas to compete with states that offer more aggressive tax situations.

Gove County, home of the LSTA headquarters in Grainfield (and LSTA towns Park and Quinter), opted in to the ROZ program at the end of December and we are very excited about welcoming some new residents to our wonderful communities to enjoy small town living! The decision to participate in the ROZ means that Gove County (and all the other ROZ counties) are choosing to embrace change and take brave steps to a brighter future. It’s not an easy step – but we think it is a good one.

We hope we see more of these kinds of incentives: programs that support small towns, bring growth to rural areas, and give people the chance to create their own opportunities.

For more information on the program or to apply to move to a Rural Opportunity Zone, visit the Kansas Department of Commerce website.

ROZs-designated counties are Barber, Chautauqua, Cheyenne, Clark, Cloud, Comanche, Decatur, Edwards, Elk, Gove, Graham, Greeley, Greenwood, Hamilton, Harper, Hodgeman, Jewell, Kearny, Kingman, Kiowa, Lane, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Mitchell, Morton, Ness, Norton, Osborne, Pawnee, Phillips, Pratt, Rawlins, Republic, Rooks, Rush, Russell, Scott, Sheridan, Sherman, Smith, Stafford, Stanton, Trego, Thomas, Wallace, Washington, Wichita, Wilson and Woodson