(Arkansas City, KS) -- There is a river that runs through this charming little town called the Arkansas River. Ostensibly this is how the name was chosen for the community. For the sizable stretch of river that runs east from the Colorado state line to where it enters Oklahoma about 4 miles south of town it is called the ar-KANSAS.
|Sign says Arkansas -- townies say arKANSAS|
So it follows that the town is pronounced likewise by townies and visitors alike. Mostly though it is referred to colloquially as Ark City. Apparently this is on account of the notion that only people in Kansas have even heard of this anglicized pronunciation of the word most commonly associated with The Natural State. The home of the Arkansawyers over there in that state which watches the river flow into the Mighty Mississippi.
|High School 1890 - now serves partly as part of the college cosmetology department|
Ark City is a charming town with some charming people. Apparently it used to rival Wichita as the big town in south central Kansas until the railroad bypassed it and growth stagnated. Still the town serves the hinterlands well and it is a thriving community with a charming historic district in the middle of town and industry that keeps the town alive in something of a symbiotic relationship with it's neighbor to the north, Winfield.
The town is home to some classic buildings from the heyday and some of these are now near and even a part of Cowley College -- home of the tigers.
|Home of the Tigers|
Creekstone Farms is here. There's also a donut shop in town where the lines can stretch around the building. Don't know the secret to their success but I will pass along this piece of advice: get the Kansas Volcano.
|Creekstone Farms -- where many of the competition briskets come from|
When we pulled up to the area where the event was being held we didn't see many teams. Turns out there were 25 teams and they had to do some improvising and scrambling to grab enough judges. So there were several "celebrity" judges and a couple of volunteer table captains.
|Inside the Ag Building|
But it all worked out in the end and the most important note on all of this -- most of those 25 teams were gunslingers. Big names on the circuit used to finishing in the money. They said the meat would probably be pretty strong. Almost without exception it was just that.
Each of four tables of judges sampled six in three categories and seven in a fourth. After that the table captains were seated to sample two additional categories: sausage and dessert.
What a great event. Our 12th contest to judge in 4 different states (hoping for 5 at the American Royal Invitational later this year). A round of applause for organizers Ronnie and David Dornhoffer as well as reps Peg and Dave Rogers. This was not a huge event but what it lacked in size it more than made up for in quality of entries and friendliness of everyone involved. These folks have a good reputation among judges on the circuit and its clear why this is the case. It was a pleasure and we hope to be back for this one next year.
|Ark City Barber Center -- barbershop or bar? Both? How has this idea not caught on nationwide???|