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Jun 28

So Much To Do, So Little Time!

Posted to Outdoors by Kelly Mayer

Emporia FireworksFireworks setupSo Much To Do, So Little Time!

By Susan Rathke
Emporia Convention & Visitors Bureau

It’s a 3-day weekend for some and the holiday plans are revving up. With temperatures actually hovering in the 80’s, outside activities might not be so bad. Fireworks stands are plenty and there’s even a giant ape drawing attention on east 12th encouraging all to stop. The 4th of July signifies a special time in the summer for picnics, ballgames, swimming, reunions and more. Several city parks have picnic tables that can be claimed for dining alfresco without a reservation. Fremont Park, Peter Pan Park, Soden’s Grove Park, and the David Traylor Zoo are excellent choices for such an occasion. Shelters in city parks can be reserved by calling 342-4365 Monday through Friday. You might notice those metal structures with chains on them in Peter Pan Park and Jones Park. Try your hand at some disc golf. It’s free to play but you will need some discs to get started. Check out Dynamic Discs at 912 Commercial to get this fun sport started. 

Holiday celebrations are happening around Emporia too, with Lebo and Pioneer Bluffs at Matfield Green holding family-friendly events. Take a drive through the beautiful Flint Hills and discover the Kansas wildflowers dotting the scenery. Pick up a brochure or two at the Emporia Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) to help you identify the wildflowers. 

Do you know about the Kansas Scenic Byways? The CVB has brochures describing the scenic byways in Kansas and maps that show the byways and historic trails that run through our state. Did you know the Santa Fe Trail runs through historic Council Grove? This was the last stop for settlers on the trail for supplies before the long trip west. Discover more about this and other information in the Kansas Travel Guide, available at the CVB. More brochures like the official Kansas Outdoors guide are also available at the CVB. Read all about the cycling craze happening in Kansas and the whole country in the guide as well. There’s also an excellent resource guide to help you locate visitor services, hunting, fishing and lodging information, and state parks too.  These annual publications are produced by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, and are absolutely free! 

Need more ideas? Take a stroll downtown and stop in for coffee, cold drinks, chocolate, gourmet cheeses, collectibles, home décor, sporting goods, and some repurposed treasures. 

Don’t forget Emporia’s fireworks this year will be presented by the Flint Hills Optimist Club on Sunday, July 3rd, on the north end of the ESU campus. Happy Independence Day Emporia!  

May 05

Three "Hidden Gem" Kansas Breweries

Posted to Tourism by Kelly Mayer

Three "Hidden Gem" Kansas Breweries

Kansas has had an interesting relationship with beer. Beginning in 1881 and lasting until 1948, all alcohol was banned in Kansas, a prohibition longer than any other state. 

Emporia was the first prohibition town, outlawing liquor in 1857, sixty-two years before national prohibition. 

Despite alcohol being prohibited in the state, the law was often ignored until the infamous Carrie Nation, from Medicine Lodge, took up a hatchet in 1900 and began a personal crusade against liquor. She smashed her way through countless Kansas saloons for over a decade, setting the stage for National Prohibition laws to take root in 1919.

While the rest of the nation came to its senses in 1933 and repealed prohibition, Kansas stubbornly maintained its ban for another 15 years. It wasn't until 1989, after much legislative lobbying, that Free State Brewing Company in Lawrence was able to open its doors as the first legal brewery in Kansas in over 100 years. 

After all this time, Kansans are finally able to enjoy the sweet deliciousness of a good local ale. Once Free State had paved the way, Kansas brewing began to thrive. We Kansans have developed a taste for craft beer and we're never looking back. 

As more and more microbreweries pop up across the state, there are some true hidden gems to be found. A quest for the perfect pint should include stops in Hays, Emporia, and El Dorado. These small breweries are all well worth the trip. Stop in, stay a while, and thank a friendly Kansan for starting a new chapter in Kansas history. Cheers! 


This 11 year old brewery is just a few minutes from I-70 in downtown Hays. Gella’s offers nine house beers on tap seven days a week, along with other seasonals throughout the year. Their American Hefeweizen was a gold medal winner at the Great American Beer Festival® in 2013, and features flavors of fresh wheat, mild hops, and a hint of citrus. Try the Brownell Brown Ale as well, which is great with a BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich or a steak. Eight different malts give the Brownell a touch of sweetness with a roasty finish. 

Gella’s has a hip atmosphere and often live music. It’s certainly an oasis out west for excellent beer and a good time. There’s plenty of other things to do as well if you have time, including another brewery (Defiance) or the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.


Opened in 2014 in historic downtown Emporia, Radius has produced a few brews that are on my all-time top 10 list. Radius offers five house beers that are available year round, seven days a week, and there’s always something new and different brewing as well. Radius was recently named Best Brewey in Kansas by Yahoo! Travel. 

One of my regular go-to beers at Radius is the Low 5 Pale Ale. It's a session American Pale Ale, which has a nice citrus character and a lightly hopped finish. It pairs nicely with several things on the menu, including the signature brick oven pizzas. Definitely try the Low 5 with Radius's warm, brick oven pretzel bread and beer cheese dip. The beer cheese dip also pairs well with the Rumor Has It IPA, if you like a hoppier beer with more pine notes. For dessert, if there happens to be a sour style ale on tap, try it with Radius's gluten-free brownie for a lovely sweet and sour combo.

The atmosphere at Radius is warm and inviting. You can see into the open-style kitchen, and the brew tanks are in a glass enclosure in the dining area. Emporia's downtown area has several other restaurants, bars, boutiques, antique stores, a gourmet chocolate shop, and an arts center within just a few blocks. There's also a beautiful zoo that is a must see. All together, it's a great Saturday day trip.


This up-and-comer doesn't have a full-fledged restaurant on site, but they do serve up light appetizers and paninis. Walnut River distributes five signature beers year round. These five plus other seasonals and speciality beers are available in their tap room, open six days a week, Tuesday through Sunday. The new Coffee Porter is a must try. Along with a bit of chocolate, it's highly coffee flavored but without a bitter finish. The Warbeard Irish Red is another good choice if you're looking for a smooth and easy drinking session ale. 

Visiting El Dorado and Walnut River is a great trip for history lovers.  El Dorado is home to the Kansas Oil Museum and it's easy to spend an hour or two browsing the exhibits. In addition, the historic building that now houses Walnut River has its own interesting history and has seen some colorful tenants in its day. Settle in with a cold one and ask them to tell you about "Goldie's Place."

By Tracy Weltha
Cicerone® Certified Beer Server