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Staff photos by Matt Lunsford  

Edward Hoover of Wamego rides his tricycle around during the Flint Hills Festival at Blue Earth Plaza on Saturday. Organizers said the festival is about “getting out in your backyard and exploring.”

Festival encourages Flint Hills residents to 'explore your back yard'

The sixth-annual Flint Hills Festival brought together families and everything the Flint Hills has to offer.

The festival, which was Saturday at Blue Earth Plaza, aims to have something for the entire family, said Katharine Hensler, assistant director and development officer at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

“A lot of people live in the Flint Hills and don’t know how unique they are,” Hensler said. “It’s about getting out in your backyard and exploring.”

The festival offered food trucks, a tent with beer and wine from the area, artisans showing off their crafts and activities for kids.

A large area was set aside for “Da Vinci’s Workshop.” The activities were inspired by the Discovery Center’s upcoming exhibit “Dream with da Vinci,” and included constructing and racing boats made of foam, wood and foil, learning about pulleys and systems, and puzzles.

“Da Vinci’s Workshop” was a partnership with K-State’s College of Architecture, Planning and Design. Riley Griggs, a sophomore architecture major from Clay Center, helped run a section where kids could use catapults to launch tennis balls at a wall of blocks. Griggs said it was a fun way to introduce some of the mechanical concepts to the kids.

“Da Vinci was a mathematician and a scientist, but he was also a painter,” he said. “We’re showing that those can be merged.”

Some at the festival had a chance to show off their craft, from woodturning to spinning wool. Rebecca Snavely of Wamego, a member of the Manhattan Area Weavers and Spinners, said she wanted to share that weaving and spinning wool is a skill people can pick up themselves.

“You can be a maker and make your own clothing or yarn,” she said.

The group had at their booth spindles and a loom to demonstrate the craft. They also had a board with fibers made from sheep’s wool but also from rabbit, bison, corn and even soy.

Marla Shoemaker of Manhattan is also a member of the Manhattan Area Weavers and Spinners and said it was an opportunity to show people something they might not normally see. She said they could learn to spin, weave, dye or a number of other skills. Shoemaker also practices needle felting, where fibers are pushed into felt using a special notched needle to create an image.

“We’re a resource they can come to and learn a lot of different fiber arts,” she said.

Hensler said she hopes seeing things at the festival inspires people to travel in the region and learn more about the Flint Hills.

“If you get out there, there are amazing things to experience,” Hensler said. “These are the people who make the region special.”

Green Apple Bikes launches free shuttle service

A free shuttle service is making its way to the Manhattan Downtown area this summer.

The Downtown Area Shuttle, or DASH, is a five-passenger, fully electric, low-speed vehicle. The service is being launched by Green Apple Bikes, the ride-sharing program started in 2015.

Organizers said Friday in a press release that the shuttle is intended to support tourism and “enhance residents’ work and play lifestyles.”

To catch the shuttle, riders can text (785) 379-DASH, or hail the shuttle on the street. Riders can take a free trip to local restaurants, services and attractions.

“We wanted to create another frictionless, fun and easy service that enhances the already stellar array of amenities the Little Apple has to offer,” said Green Apple Bikes program director Jonathan Rivers. “We can offer this service for free because our electric car cuts out the cost of fuel and because of our partnerships with wonderful sponsors.”

The shuttle will operate within 1 square mile at Manhattan’s center, according to the press release. Other key locations within the service area will include Aggieville, City Park, the post office, the Manhattan Public Library and the Douglass Community Recreation Center.

By using DASH, organizers say people help reduce traffic congestion downtown and support local businesses.

The organization gave no official start date, but initial hours of operation will be evenings on weekdays and Sundays, and all day Saturday.

The shuttle service area will be bounded to the north by Anderson/Bluemont Avenue, to the east by Third Street, south by Fort Riley Blvd, and west by 17th Street.

Matt Lunsford 

Marla Shoemaker spins yarn while showing different styles of fiber art. Shoemaker is a part of the Manhattan Area Weavers and Spinners Guild. In photo at right, Emerson Fox, 3, (left) and Annabelle Saunders, 3, of Riley hug after seeing each other in the lobby of the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

Matt Lunsford 

From left, Emerson Fox, 3, and Annabelle Saunders, 3, of Riley hug after seeing each other in the lobby of the Flint Hills Discovery Center during the Flint Hills Festival on Saturday.

K-State unveils new signs for Bosco plaza

K-State officials unveiled new signage to dedicate the Bosco Student Plaza Friday at the end of the ceremony in honor of Pat Bosco’s retirement.

Bosco, vice president for student life and dean of students, will retire at the end of June after almost 50 years at the university.

Jordan Kiehl, outgoing student body president, unveiled the sign sitting on the northeast side of the plaza, as well as two more surprises for Bosco. Lettering will be placed on the fountain on the east side that will say “Bosco Student Plaza.” Additionally, a temporary plaque sits outside the south entrance describing the man behind the name.

“Dr. Pat J. Bosco provided nearly five decades of dedicated service to the students of Kansas State University,” it reads in part. “He came to Kansas State University as an undergraduate from upstate New York, fell in love with the school, and never left.”

President Richard Myers said it was difficult to describe what Bosco had accomplished in his nearly 50 years.

“In 1971 — who’d have thought he was that old? — he made the seamless transition from student to employee,” Myers said. “Now, he makes the transition to retiree.”

Before ice cream and hugs, Bosco got the opportunity to speak to the crowd standing in his plaza, thanking those who came before him, those who worked with him and everyone in between.

“I’m good at hellos, but I’m not good at goodbyes,” he said. “With so many of you here, it’s easier.”

Bosco deflected the attention, saying the ceremony, the plaza or all the celebration around his retirement was not really about him, but rather about the people he thanked. He also mused about the circumstances that put him at K-State in the first place.

“I was the least likely to be here,” he said. “My grandparents didn’t speak a word of English. My parents divorced when I was 8… We worked through our education at a community college… I came here with nothing but a dream. K-State is my family’s American dream.”

Bosco had his own surprise at the end of his speech. In the department of student life, the Putting Students First award is given to two recipients each year who did their best to “crawl through glass for the students.”

“Honey, we’re naming it after you,” he told his wife Susan Ariola Bosco. It will now be called the Dr. Susan Ariola Bosco Division for Student Life Putting Students First Award.

He said that even in his retirement, he will uphold a promise he makes to all students when they enter K-State: If someone catches Bosco not wearing purple, he’ll get them a scholarship.

“I will wear purple the rest of my life as a commitment to family,” he said. “If you see me not wearing purple, I will get you a scholarship. It might not be a big one, but I’ll get you one.”

He’ll also potentially be getting funds ready for his grandchildren.

“My kids know it’s in our will that if the grandkids come here, books, tuition everything will be paid for by Susan and me,” he said.

“If they go somewhere else, they get nothing.”