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

RedTire – Matching Businesses and Business Owners

RedTire is a new program from the KU School of Business that seeks to Redefine Retirement for business owners in rural Kansas communities.

At Love Small Town America, we consider ourselves matchmakers of a sort. We match businesses with employees via our job listings, we match potential citizens with new hometowns, and we match tourists with communities full of attractions that suit them to a tee. So, we were interested to learn of another matchmaking enterprise in our home state of Kansas.

When small town business owners age, they often shut the doors, taking with them the assets, experience, and wealth that business represented in the community. There are many reasons why this happens – but a lot of it comes down to basic economics – supply and demand. A new program called RedTire has been launched by the University of Kansas to offer one possible solution.

The RedTire program promotes their service as allowing business owners to redefine their retirement. The program matches rural business owners seeking an exit strategy with graduates from Kansas universities.

Candidates from both sides – businesses and potential successors – apply through the RedTire website or are referred to the program by third parties.

Ideally, the end result will be contract negotiations between successors and current owners to purchase existing businesses or make other arrangements to transition ownership.

The program is free and aims to help Kansas communities create transition opportunities to keep businesses alive and thriving. RedTire is new, so there aren’t any results to share, but there are an increasing number of attempts across the country to address this issue. We’ll be watching to see how RedTire progresses – so check back for an update!

We can’t help but think what an interesting complement this program – or something like it – provides for the Rural Opportunity Zone program. Theoretically, someone could move to a ROZ county, gaining access to tax credits and tuition reimbursement and possibly also create their own job by buying a business by engaging with RedTire – making the kinds of initiatives that are popping up across the state even more powerful. The future is taking shape before our eyes and there are definitely some interesting possibilities on the horizon.

What do you think? Is RedTire the kind of program that could make a difference?

Interested in applying?

RedTire Contact Information:

Wally Meyer
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
(785) 864-7583

Charlotte Tritch
Lawrence, Kansas 66045
(785) 864-7563

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