At the Finney County Historical Society, our mission involves preserving the past to enlighten the future, and we carry that out through a series of events, programs and exhibits that take place over the course of each year.

The Finney County Historical Museum probably stands as our most visible presence, at least in terms of exhibitions, but we also provide:

* An education outreach program that touches nearly 7,000 lives annually.

* A respected research library that offers services to dozens of users every month.

* A collection of thousands of records, documents and artifacts that embody the heritage we share throughout southwest Kansas.

* A meeting room and outdoor courtyard available to book for public or private events.

* A gift shop that stocks items representative of local and regional art, history and culture.

* A series of activities that help people of all ages discover revelations about days and years gone by.

These opportunities, plus the exhibits in the museum's galleries, the adjacent William Fulton House and the Pleasant Valley one-room school house, depend on ongoing financial support from our membership, as well as from other visitors, individual and institutional benefactors, and members of the public at large who appreciate and believe in the preservation of history.

In time for Labor Day weekend

To help in matching the gifts that sustain us, and the backing we receive from the people of Finney County, we also conduct a number of fundraising endeavors throughout the year. One of those is our pre-Labor Day pork rib and beef brisket sale, which is under way right now.

You might call this an opportunity that's historically delicious. In addition, it's a great way to feed your friends and family for the holiday weekend, or stock your freezer for a future feast in the weeks or months to come.

We're proud to work with Webb's Food Crew and Barbecue of Deerfield on the project, since everyone knows about the flavor and quality of the meats and other items they produce. Each order will be hot, ready and fully cooked.

If you're interested in placing an order, there's still plenty of time, right up until the deadline of Aug. 22. The order period, of course, will be followed by pick-up for customers from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at the museum meeting room, 403 S. Fourth at Finnup Park. That date is the Thursday prior to Labor Day, and our sale includes two options: racks of pork spare ribs, $25 each, weighing approximately three pounds; or beef brisket, $50 each, weighing about six pounds and serving up to 15 people.

To get to the meat of the matter, payment by cash or check is necessary in advance, and orders may be placed with any member of the FCHS Board of Directors. Orders also may be placed at the museum or by calling (620) 272-3664. Front desk hours at the museum are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays through Friday. Hours thereafter will be 1 to 5 p.m. seven days weekly.

Board members, in case you want to contact one with your order, include Barbara Goss, president; Loretta DeLaRosa, vice president; and Joe Burnside, treasurer; as well as Carla Algrim, Bryce Baker, Mary Cervantes, Keith Downer, Barbara Hauschild, Ray Heinemann, Richard Henkle, Deb Jarmer, Robert Jones, Tom Klassen, Dennis Kleysteuber, Itzel Rodriguez, Bill Stephens, Pat Stockham, Rhonda Stone, Tim Sturdevant, Beth Tedrow, Pat Veesart and Marlin Wells.

Exhibits and orders

The sale, by the way, relies entirely on volunteer assistance, and it is one of several upcoming opportunities sponsored by the historical society. Some of the others include:

* The FCHS annual picnic, coming up the afternoon of Oct. 6.

* Our second-ever Antique Appraisal Fair, scheduled Oct. 26.

We'll keep you posted as the picnic and the appraisal event draw closer. Meanwhile, we hope you'll find time to stop by the museum and take in our free exhibits, covering everything from the prehistoric era in southwest Kansas to the events and individuals who have made our part of the world unique over the past dozen decades. Doing so can offer you and your family a real taste of the economic and social developments that have shaped the world we share today. And, if you want to share in the taste of some outstanding ribs and brisket too, well, so much the better.

Steve Quakenbush can be emailed at squakenbush@finneycounty.org