One of the oldest and most picturesque ranch headquarters in the world is planning its annual fall celebration this weekend.
“Pioneer Bluffs is the ranch started in 1859 when Charles Rogler settled on Flint Hills grassland near what is now Matfield Green in Chase County. The headquarters with a dozen vintage ranch buildings have been preserved as a National Historic Landmark, and are a nationally renowned and respected heritage education center,” according to Lynn Smith, who serves as executive director.
“Two major Pioneer Bluffs events are scheduled this weekend. The Flavors of the Flint Hills fundraiser supper Friday evening, Oct. 4, in Cottonwood Falls, precedes the annual Pioneer Bluffs Fall Festival, Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Matfield Green ranch headquarters,” Smith said.
The story of Pioneer Bluffs began when Charles Rogler, a young Austrian immigrant, walked from Iowa to build a new life in Kansas. Charles’ son, Henry, and in turn a grandson, Wayne, later took the reins, making the farm/ranch operation one of the most well- respected in the region.
Today, Pioneer Bluffs is a nonprofit organization that carries on the Rogler legacy of respecting the land, preserving history, and engaging community with today’s pioneers.
“At Pioneer Bluffs, with a classic early 1900s farm house, barns, and distinctive mile-long limestone fence, you’ll step into a classic family farmstead setting and discover an incredible repository of natural beauty and Kansas farming and ranching heritage,” Smith emphasized.
Friday evening’s fundraiser will be in downtown Cottonwood Falls at the Symphony in the Flint Hills “banquet hall,” 331 Broadway, northwest of the historic Chase County Courthouse.
From 5:30 to 7 o’clock, early arrivals will have an opportunity to ride up and down brick streets of the historic community in a fringed-topped one horse surrey compliments of Buchman’s Double B Ranch.
Appetizers with wine and beer will be served as guests are seated and entertained to the toe tapping music of the Flint Hills Balladeer Annie Wilson and the Tallgrass Express String Band
“Exceptional Flint Hills cuisine is to be served at the 7 o’clock supper, preceding the brief, fun auction including several unique items, with all proceeds benefitting Pioneer Bluffs,” related Smith, noting that each person attending will receive a keepsake wine glass.
Limited reservations are still available at www. pioneerbluffs.org.
On Saturday, October 5, the fun begins at 2 p.m. and continues on until after dark at Pioneer Bluffs.
“The Fall Festival, annually on the first Saturday in October, is a celebration of community and local food. The day includes family activities, antique tractor and car shows, petting zoo, home-grown food and hog roast, history demonstrations, and live music. This year, we will conclude the celebration with a fireworks extravaganza,” Smith said.
“There is no charge, although donations are gratefully accepted. You may want to bring your pocketbook for the arts and crafts fair outside, and the new art exhibit opening in The Gallery of the 1908 home at Pioneer Bluffs,” Smith noted.
The car and tractor show will feature classic cars, trucks, antique tractors and hot rods. “Bring your car, truck, or tractor to join the show, or come to check out the vehicles,” Smith invited.
New and returning musicians to perform include the Tom Page Trio from Wichita, combining country, blues, folk and rock, 2 o’clock; Bluestem Swingers square dance group from Emporia, 3 o’clock; Zach Garland Foster, 15-year-old saxophonist from Liberty, Missouri, who is accompanied by his father, Chris, an award-winning songwriter, 4 o’clock; Flint Hills Balladeer Annie Wilson shares the beauty of the Flint Hills in words and music, 5:30; and The Skirts, an all-female Chase County fun group with bluegrass-based rock and pop, 7:30.
During the day, there will be performances by Mallory Plankinton, 1920’s jazz musician, who will be roving the grounds.
At 4 o’clock, Kitty Frank portrays, Kitty Hays, the adopted daughter of Seth Hays, founder of Council Grove’s Hays House. She shares the fascinating story of being raised by Hays, a bachelor, and his housekeeper, a former slave. After their deaths, Kittie was raised in poverty at an orphanage, yet became the first female landowner in Chase County with acreage along Diamond Creek.
Portrayed by her great-great-granddaughter Mary Buster, Flora Brown Adair, sister of John Brown, will welcome visitors to the Pioneer Bluffs log cabin throughout the afternoon. Then at 7 p.m., “Florella” will share family stories of her brother, and of the dangerous times for abolitionists that define “Bleeding Kansas.”
“Our supper at 6 o’clock features a menu that is homemade from locally grown food, and all prepared by our volunteers,” said Smith, who can be contacted for any information about Pioneer Bluffs at 620-753-3484, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visitors will gather around the campfire at Pioneer Bluffs near Matfield Green to conclude the annual Fall Festival with a “fireworks extravaganza” to be presented.