If Ya Gotta Go Sue-ioux….make mine a Blond German from Copeland.

by admin
Ken Widener showing tanned hides to Boy Scout, Lutheran Stone School 15 miles south of Meade Kansas. Folk Arts Festival at the Stone School, summer 1989.

Ken Widener showing tanned hides to Boy Scout, Lutheran Stone School 15 miles south of Meade Kansas. Folk Arts Festival at the Stone School, summer 1989.

We had two Folk Arts Festivals at a one-room Schoolhouse south of Meade, Kansas. There were over a 1,000 people in attendance at the first, and this was on the day of a huge rainstorm. It’s always time to party when it rains in southwest Kansas.

We wrote a Grassroots Arts Grant to fund it, which mainly consisted of

  • renting big tents (made donation) from the Nat’l Guard with their donated labor to put these up,
  • Mennonite Church Women hosting a delicious meal at nominal price for lunch,
  • people collecting antique steam tractors hauling them to the site,
  • woodworkers & burners,
  • PBS level Indian specialists such as Ken Widener, a farmer from Copeland,
  • Sharon Rooney who displayed spinning yarn,
  • Fritz Davis from the Kansas Touring Program playing for all of us. ¬†Later, ¬†“pickup” musicians from Fowler brought in their bass and guitar to jam inside the schoolhouse when the rain started to come down.
  • It was pretty magical, have the footage but it’s on different era of video or I’d stick it in here, not lost though.
    • Goodnight Irene…..remember this vividly with rain on the roof….it came back to me at Yoga this morning in downtown Overland Park with the rain on the roof, though not sure why because the music was something with shiva in the words and I still don’t know what that means, but it was peaceful.

PS What I most remember about Ken, who had icy blue eyes and curly blond hair, was his comment about dating.

He worked with his father and spent a lot of time on a tractor when he didn’t have a part in any PBS documentary. [I thought this was pretty impressive and indicative of his ability to model behavior since he was blond and I hadn’t thought this was a genetic trait. But in hindsight, since he was also German, maybe there are some characteristics of similarity between the two cultures, dunno. Please forgive me if I’m offending anyone here with broad generalizations about cultures or early tribes of origin.]

So back to his comment. He said that he needed a wife because the women did the beadwork. I didn’t take this wrong, he just needed a support system and later found a wonderful person.

I’m not sure who did the tanning, that also appeared pretty time consuming. I believe the men exclusively historically did the large animal hunt, but maybe someone else has a few random stories to tell…

I don’t bank on anyone’s history about who did the designs….when has labor ever not put their mark on their handiwork regardless of whose signature is on it, whose body wears it, or who funds it? :)

That’s called “Making something beautiful is worth doing well.” It sometimes takes a lot of spirit to get the job Done.