When Finney County’s earliest settlers arrived in 1879 and the years that followed, few of them probably complained about not being able to find anything to do in an around Garden City. There were wells to dig, fields to fence, expanses of sod to break, homes to build, businesses to establish and plenty of other chores in creating a viable community.

Later, there would be streets to pave, schools to found, newspapers to print, industries to launch and, from time to time, challenges such as floods, fires, blizzards, droughts and tornadoes to overcome.

Today, however, it’s not unusual to hear people lament the lack of anything to do, even though recent and coming weeks alone have, or will, include the Tumbleweed Festival, A Wild Affair, Community Mexican Fiesta, Chamber of Commerce wine tasting, golf tournament opportunities, stage productions and the opening of high school and college football seasons, among other events.

Here at the Finney County Historical Museum, of course, we also want to do our part in alleviating any onset of 21st Century boredom. We’ve already concluded our summer exhibit season with more than 19,000 guests and visitors to date, but we’re also planning a few upcoming activities, including these:

Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 12 noon. That’s the next session in our Brown Bag Lunch lecture series, and it will feature Alicia Gian Maciulis of Roots Juice and Company Wellness Studio, on the topic “Taking Care of Your Health.” Admission is free, and the program will take place in the museum meeting room. Access is through our north entrance, and you’re welcome to bring your own lunch, if you like. We’ll provide beverages and dessert.

Saturday, Sept. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. If that date and time sound familiar, it’s because Garden City’s annual Fall Fest celebration is taking place then, hosted by Garden City Downtown Vision. The Finney County Historical Society is planning to be back on Main Street all day, offering the chance to win a prize or two by taking a local history exam. There’s no need to study, however, and people who visit our booth will only need to answer one randomly-selected question each to quality for the drawing.

Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. This is the September segment in our Evening at the Museum lecture series, and the speaker is Kalvesta resident Chad Myers, an experienced southwest Kansas archaeology enthusiast. His topic is “Southwest Kansas Stone Points and Arrowheads.” Like the noon series, admission is free and the location is the museum’s meeting room, with access through our north entrance. We’ll offer beverages and dessert, and you can bring along your own dinner, if desired.

Monday through Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Those are the hours our museum exhibits are open throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons. Admission is free, and you’ll find us at 403 S. Fourth St., in Garden City’s Finnup Park, adjacent to the pedestrian entrance arches at Lee Richardson Zoo. Right now, our frequently-changing Front Door Gallery is featuring a collection of 13 paintings, sketches and prints, primarily by local artists, dating from 1889 to 1988. You can also take in “True Crime – Solving Notorious Cases from Finney County’s History,” the Spirit of the Plains Gallery and about 10 additional displays and exhibits.

You’re also welcome to take advantage of the downtown walking tours that we’re providing in conjunction with the monthly First Friday celebrations, with tickets on sale through Downtown Vision.

In addition, we hope you’ll be watching for announcements and details soon on our annual FCHS History Picnic, set for the afternoon of Oct. 7 at the Finney County Fairgrounds; our Fifth Annual Historic Walking Tours of Valley View Cemetery during mid-October; and a workshop on Oct. 21 entitled “From Here to There: Immigration Stories of Kansas” that will run from 1 to 3 p.m. in partnership with Humanities Kansas.

On top of that, there are subsequent Brown Bag Lunch noon hour programs on Oct. 10 and Nov. 14, the first explaining what to do with the articles and artifacts you may have accumulated over a lifetime, and the latter on how to go about self-publishing your family history. You can also count on sessions at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 and 7 p.m. Nov. 10 in the Evenings at the Museum lecture series, with the earlier segment focusing on ways to discern history through photographs. The November program, also in affiliation with Humanities Kansas, will include a presentation and moderated discussion based on a film about walking across the state by Kansas native Patrick Ross, who began his on-foot excursion in Garden City.

We want to invite you to take advantage of any or all of these opportunities, since our mission involves preservation of the past to enlighten the future — not to mention enlightenment of the present. Or, if you would rather, we might even be able to help you find some wells to dig, sod to break or fences to mend.


Steve Quakenbush is the executive director of the Finney County Historical Society. He can be emailed at squakenbush@finneycounty.org.