Friday, April 9, 2010

Heartland Byways Conference

America's Scenic Byways are one of our greatest treasures, telling the story of our history, heritage and tradition along the pathways we travel. This week I am in Great Bend Kansas at the Heartland Byways Conference. Byways committees from all across the Great Plains, primarily Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and North Dakota and Minnesota are gathered to learn how we can better manage our byways, improve the visitor experience and promote more travelers.


This being Kansas, the perfect table centerpiece is a sunflower. The conference headquarters is at the Best Western Angus Inn, and the folks here are doing a wonderful job making us feel welcome.
Part of the experience of traveling a byway is enjoying all of the local flavor. Tonights reception appetizers are brought to us by Simply Kansas, an organization dedicated to helping Kansas' local entrepreneurs bring their products to the marketplace.
Sue from our hosts the Kansas Scenic Byways is spreading the word about the wonderful byway program in Kansas.
Simply Kansas also provided music to accompany the evening. These "unnamed pickers" played fun folk and bluegrass music, and even invited musically-inclined guests to join in. This example of friendly inclusion is indicative of our entire time here in Kansas.
I often complain about the lack of good beer at the many conferences I attend, but that is not the case here in Kansas. The Tallgrass Brewing Company is located in Manhattan Kansas, and I heartly recommend the Ale. Delicious brown ale.
Those who prefer wine over beer weren't left out either. The Dozier Winery in Elmwood provided the white wines, and although I don't have any picts, the reds were brought to us by Smoky Hill in Salina.
My Nebraska cohorts are pouring over the newspaper insert produced by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism promoting Nebraska's beautiful byways that will be inserted into midwestern cities just prior to the summer travel season. If you are lucky enough to find one in your newspaper, you'll be hard-pressed to resist a road trip to Nebraska!
The early evening was the nicest part of the day. The clouds had gone, the wind had dropped slightly, and it was a perfect time for a walk. Spring has made more progress in south central Kansas than it has in Nebraska, so it's a wonderful treat to see the blossoms and new leaves on the trees, knowing that spring truly is just around the corner.
Yes, I really am working! Tomorrow I'll give you a few insights into some of the great stuff we are learning about making our byways better.
Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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