Eight Rural Culture Elements

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on how to kickstart some change in Markesan. I ran into a very interesting article done by the Kansas Sampler Foundation and what they called the eight rural culture elements. What seems to be a problem, which the same problem about 10 years ago when a movement like this was started, is people don’t see what the community has going for it. When people ask what our community has and what we can do the answer is almost always “nothing” and “we can’t do anything.” Those people are always wrong. Markesan does have unique qualities going for it, we just need to sit down and write them out.

Tourism is what can save our town. If we can get people into our city and get them buying from our local stores we are on a good track. Tourism brings in money. When entrepreneurs see that we have some traffic, they are going to want to set up shop in Markesan. Bring in tourists, bring back prosperity. This should be priority no. 1 as we move forward.

Here is what the Kansas Sampler Foundation says we need to identify in our community:

Eight Culture Elements

Architecture
Art
Commerce
Cuisine
Customs
Geography
History
People

They suggest that every small town has certain traits that fit into each of these categories. They even list out how to go about identifying them. So let’s try to identify some of the traits of our community.

Architecture

  • Victorian Homes
  • Bridge Street business district

Art

Thought Markesan isn’t really connected with art in any way, we certainly have a famous person from community’s past that has been influential. Arthur Matthews was born in Markesan, he moved away when he was 6, but could we incorporate his time in our community to bring in some art tourism?

Commerce

Agriculture has been the cornerstone industry in our community since our humble beginning. We have been noted for a the fertile land that surrounds our community. That should remain a cornerstone of our community.

Cuisine

Going along with commerce, we celebrate Dairy Month (June) in big fashion with a big weekend full of activities and events. We also have Harvest Fest in August that celebrates the end of summer with a corn roast and other games.  Markesan also has a huge green bean processing plant, who doesn’t like green beans?! We have Amish bakeries nearby that attract a lot of people.

Customs

As I said in the last category, we have June Dairy Days, Harvest Fest and Homespun Holidays. Customs go farther than just events. What are some things that happen or are common practice in Markesan on a normal basis?

Geography

Markesan is in a very interesting geographic region. We have some the best soil in the state for agriculture industry. We have a 3 beautiful lakes nearby (Little Green, Big Green and Lake Puckaway). We have excellent hunting areas, beautiful scenic roads and much more.

History

I just had my first book published that outlines a small portion of our community’s history. We have a beautiful and hidden historical secret in our town, it’s our awesome museum. There have been several historical events that have made significant news. This should definitely be a resource that is utilized.

People

Who are the people who make/made our community what it is. Who are people of historical significance and so on?

These are just a few on a quick rundown of these categories. I know there are far more than I have listed. We are not a dead community and we do have things that are unique about us. We just need to take some initiative to identify them and understand how we can use them to promote and sell ourselves to potential visitors. What do you think? restoremarkesan@gmail.com

Historic Markesan

For Markesan’s annual Heritage Days I put together a brochure to guide people around some historic spots in our community. Another historical society member helped get the brochures printed and ready for the event. The brochure has numbered locations, as well as some historical anecdotes for each location. The locations on our historical map correspond with sections of my recently published a book, Images of America: Markesan.

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