Aug. 4—Abilene had the chance to show off Tuesday when the Kansas Media Event welcome party at Old Abilene Town brought free steam engine rides, a cattle drive, cowboy poetry read by Cowboy Poet Lariat Ron Wilson, a walk through Old Abilene Town with Wild Bill Hickok, stagecoach rides, music and performances from local groups and more.
The event continues today.
Abilene CVB Director Julie Roller Weeks said early on in the event that she had high hopes.
"We have 40 travel writers from across the country coming, we've invited the public to come down for a free night of celebrating our Chisholm Trail history and our cowboy culture," she said. "I hope everyone takes advantage of it. The train offering free steam engine rides really it's just above and beyond anything we could have asked. I think it's just awesome to see their involvement in the community. I think it's just awesome to see (the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad's) involvement in the community. The longhorn cattle are always the draw. People love to watch them board the train. It's pretty incredible."
Roller Weeks said she was happy to see the community come together to celebrate itself.
"You walk down the street you see Abilene city commissioners wearing Abilene Proud shirts," she said. "It's just cool. It's a chance to showcase Abilene. I really love the way the community has rallied around this event."
The event in question happened after Kansas Tourism reached out to the Abilene CVB and asked if the community would host this gathering.
The answer was a definite yes.
Roller Weeks said they chose to host the event at this time because of the Central Kansas Free Fair and the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo taking place this week. She said the CVB wants to highlight both the Chisholm Trail history and the Eisenhower history of Abilene.
"We just really appreciate this opportunity," she said. "It's a great time to showcase our community, after the last couple of years and we survived the pandemic and we're rebounding."
The event drew people from out of town, despite the heat of the day.
Danton McDiffett of Salina came to photograph the longhorn cattle as they walked through Old Abilene Town and the steam engine Tuesday evening.
I live in Salina and I come over fairly regularly," he said. "It's close and it's unique it's something different than anything else in the middle of the state."
McDiffett said he makes it out to Abilene about once a month or so.
He said he enjoys going to the Eisenhower museum when there's not something like the Kansas Media Event taking place.
Local Meta West said she hoped people would not be put off attending the event by the more than 100 degree heat.
"I think it's great — the community coming together and showing off what Abilene has to offer," she said. "I think it's wonderful."
West anticipated the longhorn drive and the train rides and just seeing Abilene become "a hub of activity" for the evening.
"It's just fun to see people out and about having fun," she said.