Saturday marks the occasion of the Finney County Historical Museum’s Ninth Annual Flea Market Festival of Antiques, Collectibles, Art and Crafts, which we’re hosting from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. inside Lee Richardson Zoo, just south of the museum.
Admission is free, and we hope you’ll stop by to gather with friends and neighbors from all over western Kansas, as well as peruse the wide array of discoveries in booths set up by more than 55 vendors from 17 communities, plus the collection of gently-used goods we’re offering on the museum’s patio.
It’s a great way to spend a beautiful summer day, with access through the pedestrian archway entry of the zoo. After shopping, you can also stroll over to the zoo’s West Green to take in Jungle Run IV, a large and colorful show of cars, trucks and motorcycles.
However, today’s activities aren’t the only opportunity hosted by the museum this summer. Visitors can cross the threshold and step back in time 134 years when they also visit the Historic William Fulton House.
Fulton House weekend tours
The Fulton House, built in 1884 by Garden City co-founder William Fulton and his wife Luticia “Lettie” Fulton, has been open since shortly after Memorial Day for weekend tours, and those will continue at least through Aug. 12. Hours run from 2 to 4 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday, though the structure is closed Saturday in order to accommodate all of the festival traffic. In addition, our museum itself will close at 4 p.m. Saturday rather than 5.
The Folk Victorian structure, which originally stood on Seventh Street south of Garnand Funeral Home, was moved to a site just southwest of the museum in 2003. After renovations by the Finney County Historical Society, and numerous volunteers, the wooden structure opened for tours in 2015.
The home includes six ground floor rooms, fitted out with period furnishings. It is surrounded by gardens dedicated to Mrs. Fulton, whose flowers inspired Garden City’s name, and the plantings are as close as possible to what would have been current in the 19th Century.
The parlor includes a three-wall exhibit with pictures and information about the Fultons, as well as the community’s other three co-founders, James Fulton, William Fulton and Charles J. “Buffalo” Jones.
The house has two porches, typical for homes of the late 1800s, and a 38-star U.S. flag flies from the west porch when tours are in session, since a flag such as that would have been current when the home was built.
The tour season is supported for the fourth consecutive summer by the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is also a backer of the Flea Market Festival and Jungle Run. In addition, some expenses for operating the house and maintaining the gardens are covered by the Henry and Nellie Hall Fund through the Western Kansas Community Foundation.
Proceeds from the Flea Market Festival also support the home, as well as our additional museum exhibits.
Our tour guides for 2018 include veteran Abel Loza and newcomer Rachael Wedel, both of Garden City. Each will explain details about the Fultons and their lives, as well as the structure itself.
For the comfort of guests, there are a few 21st Century conveniences, by the way, including modern air conditioning. Donations are welcome, but admission is free.
More than 2,000 people visited the house in the summer of 2017, including guests from more than 40 Kansas towns, as well as visitors from Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and seven additional states. Tourists from Canada to Mexico left their names in the guest book, too.
Comments written in the book include observations such as “Nice piece of history,” “Beautiful restoration,” “Lovely asset,” and “Awesome information.” Others range from “Very cool,” “Great host” and “Beautiful” to “Great walk-through.”
We hope to see you today during the Ninth Annual Flea Market Festival, and we also hope you’ll take time this summer to pay a visit to our home from 1884. We’re sure William and Lettie Fulton would be proud to have you stop by.
Steve Quakenbush is the executive director oif the Finney County Historical Society.