By Steve Quakenbush

History is all about change. You won’t find may books, articles or movies about stable, quiet times when personal and public routines waltzed along without interruption. That lesson, in fact, has been clear to all of us over the past year.

Since we’re in the business of preserving history at the Finney County Museum, we’re sure that many of today’s events and developments are likely to appear in future historical accounts. In addition, some of the history-related programming we’ve planned in the immediate future is undergoing some changes.

That includes the Finney County Historical Society’s Ninth Annual Southwest Kansas Antiques Appraisal Fair, originally set for March 13, and the FCHS Annual Banquet and Finney County Pioneer Awards, initially slated for April 24.

We’ve had to cancel the appraisal fair; and in exercising caution for those who will be attending, we’ve postponed the banquet until Nov. 6.


The appraisal fair usually brings people from all over Western Kansas, and beyond, to share heirlooms and keepsakes before a live audience, with evaluations by a team of antique collectors. The all-day show has been compared to “Antiques Road Show,” except that it’s entirely a local production staged by volunteers.

We host the show each year in the 4-H Building at the Finney County Fairgrounds, and we were preparing to conduct the ninth annual gathering with careful Coronavirus precautions, but our facility booking was recently rescinded so the location could be repurposed for COVID-related public health uses. We’re disappointed, but we certainly understand the need to ramp up testing and vaccinations, so we’ve set our sights on March 12 of 2022.

Each appraisal fair is possible only through support from many sponsors, since it’s an important fund-raising event as well as a day of entertaining historical recollection. We want to thank those who had already committed as 2021 sponsors, including Commerce Bank, the Finney County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fry Eye Associates, Golden Plains Credit Union, Homestead Assisted Living, the Vernon and Wilma Solze family, Event Leader Rhonda Stone and Valley State Bank. Several, to whom we’re especially grateful, have even asked us to keep their donated sponsorship fees. That kind of devotion to the work we do is truly appreciated.


Our annual banquet, taking place at Turning Point Church of the Nazarene, will go on as planned, just six months and 18 days later than first scheduled. Our assumption is that most Finney County residents, and out-of-town guests, will have been vaccinated by November and can attend safely.

In April, we’ll still be conducting our annual board member election, but that will take place by mail. Then, in November, we’ll proceed at the banquet with presentations of the Finney County Pioneer Award to two selected recipients – the Ensign D. and Harriet R. Downer family and the Hendrik and Jan Rijfkogel family. Members of both have shown a great deal of patience with the delays.


In the meantime, we hope you’ll take advantage of several opportunities to discover local history in the days and weeks ahead.

You can learn about the last deadly pandemic in our next two free lecture programs, set for noon March 10 and 7 p.m. March 16. We’ll be sharing a PBS documentary entitled “Influenza 1918” and both programs will take place in the Mary Regan Conference Room at the museum, with entry at our north door. COVID precautions will, of course, be in effect. Then, at noon April 14 and 7 p.m. April 20, we’ll offer “The 200th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Trail.”

Also, you can view several new history videos on our Finney County Museum Facebook page, on topics such as the infamous Fleagle Gang; Garden City co-founder Buffalo Jones; the birth of Kansas; our historic 1884 William Fulton House; co-founders John and Ciddie Stevens; Garden City’s first police chief, Lee Richardson; and additional subjects.

In addition, don’t forget to stop by the museum at 403 S. Fourth Street and view our varied exhibits, including the temporary Front Door Gallery feature celebrating the 160th birthday of Kansas. If you’re at the Finney County Administration Building, by the way, you might go up to the second floor lobby as well. We’ve placed a display case there containing the story of Finney County’s name, not to mention the name that our corner of Kansas went by before the current one.

Our job at the Finney County Museum is to preserve and share the stories and artifacts of the past. You’re invited to delve into that with us – changes and all.

Steve Quakenbush is the executive director of the Finney County Historical Society. He can be contacted at HYPERLINK "mailto:squakenbush@finneycounty.org" or at squakenbush@finneycounty.org .

Steve Quakenbush