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IT’S KANSAS DAY: Ten Ways to Celebrate Kansas becoming the 34 State in the Union

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Marking the 161st year of statehood for the Sunflower State.

panoramic view of sunflower field
Sunflowers at Grinter's Farm, an iconic symbol of Kansas

Kansas Day is a treasured holiday in our state. Becoming more revered each passing year, with each generation. Other states may not recognize statehood quite as Kansans do. Our story is different.

During its territory days, Kansas was a battleground. A fight between two contrasting ideologies. Freedom or slavery. Even with the tumultuous events - often including bleed shed and destruction - leading up to January 29, 1861, the founders of our state never lost sight of their convictions. Kansas, and those you chose to make their home here, would be Free.

The immense pride I feel as a Kansan is something I at times struggle to put into words. Our state has been the birthplace of many great explorers - Amelia Earhart, Bob Ballard, and Martin & Osa Johnson to name a few. Our farmers and ranchers feed not just Kansas or the United States, but the world. For generations of us, the pioneer spirit is rooted deep inside.

Kansans are kind, and we're humble. We band together. January 29th is a day we should celebrate not only our state but celebrate each other and honor those who came before.

Fun Fact: Along with Kansas being the 34th state, Dwight D. Eisenhower - son of the Sunflower State - was the 34th President of the United States.

woman hiking trail through rock formations
Hiking at Kanopolis State Park

1. Hike a Kansas Trail

With over 4,000 miles of trails in Kansas, there is no shortage of areas to get out and experience the great outdoors. You’ll find hiking opportunities for all levels of difficulty at all 28 state parks - that’s not including the many local city parks and trails. A popular destination to hike, no matter the year, are the Flints Hills. Longer hikes can be found at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and Konza Prairie Biological Station. During the winter months, early morning or late evening, warm sunlight gives the Tallgrass prairie a golden hue.

More to Read: Five Places to Hike in Flint Hills | Hiking Little Jerusalem Badlands State Park

books about Kansas
Kansas Books I know You'll Enjoy

2. Read a Book about Kansas

When you think about a book that takes place in Kansas, your first thought might be the story of the girl who was swept away by a tornado only to find herself in a fantastical land. After going on a remarkable journey she realizes in the end - there’s no place like home. Yes, the Wizard of Oz. Though anymore, I think more might connect with the movie than the book. There’s also Laura Ingall Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie - another classic.

Sticking with fiction stories, a book released in 2020 called The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell’Antonia has been a popular read. Even becoming one of Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club picks in 2020. The Chicken Sisters is loosely, very loosely, based around the idea of Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s in Pittsburg, Kansas. Except this story takes place in fictional Merinac, Kansas. One thing is the same… fried chicken.

If you prefer non-fiction, there’s Revolutionary Heart - about the life of Clarina Nichols a Kansas journalist and part of the suffrage movement. Or, Hidden History of Kansas by Adrian Zink. Also, be on the lookout for Zink’s coming book A Humorous History of Kansas. Another book recommendation is Ladybird, Collected by Meg Heriford. A collection of essays written by Heriford about the community built around her diner also named Ladybird in Lawrence.

Locate these books at a community library or local independent bookstore.

colorful sunset with green hills in front
Golden Hour, just after sunset on Skyline Scenic Drive in the Flint Hills

3. Watch a Kansas Sunrise or Sunset

Montana may be known as Big Sky Country, but I think Kansas gives some pretty big, beautiful sky. It’s particularly remarkable at sunrise and again at sunset. In fact Golden Hour, the time before or after the sun breaks the horizon, is a vibrant watercolor masterpiece of warm and cool hues swirling together. Here is a quick list of places to experience a Kansas sunset or sunrise.