There is strength in celebrating together | Voice

There is a basic principle in family therapy that the healthiest families are those that take the time to eat meals together and celebrate birthdays. This sharing and respect promotes a sense of belonging and adds meaning to family life.

I thought about this when I read that Osawatomie is re-establishing its tourism committee focusing on four signature events. One of these events concerns food. The other three celebrate and honor past traditions – two local and one national.

We can sample entrees at the Border Wars Bar-BQ, celebrate small town life at the John Brown Jamboree, reminisce about the past at the Freedom Festival, and join our countrymen in reveling in the fireworks at Lights on the Lake.

I was surprised the list stopped at four, but that’s a reasonable start. Entities other than the city are already promoting events on the Flint Hills Trail, and more are sure to follow.

Osawatomie has always been a place to celebrate, creating great memories and weeding out the tough ones. This is how he healed himself from the difficult times caused by conflict, climate and financial loss.

Thirty years ago, when I was on one of the “old” committees, we added a major annual event while continuing to support and fund the others. This new celebration was “Snaggin’ Days,” a tribute to the spoonbill migration and building on the fact that Osawatomie was then one of only three sites in Kansas where paddlefish could be legally caught.

We gave out prizes for the biggest and smallest catches of fish with Moon’s IGA as the weigh-in center. We held a coloring contest for school-aged children, sold t-shirts and hats, got an official proclamation from the governor, and hosted a community dinner. We served paddlefish, hush puppies, coleslaw and brownies, while those in attendance added their own specials, including memorable chili mac and cheese.

Other groups have sponsored their own events, inviting the public to participate in activities such as the OHS Alumni Reunion, Black Ties to Osawatomie, Lions’ Club Easter Egg Hunt, Veterans’ Celebrations and Memorial Day and the citywide garage sale.

The Chamber of Commerce sponsored a Cherry Pie promotion for Presidents Day. Pie lovers could make a purchase at a Chamber business that day and present the receipt for a small, freshly baked pie. It was reminiscent of the Coker Store Pumpkin Pie Day of long ago, when free servings of pie kept traffic in this store heavy and happy. The list continues. Osawatomie celebrated birthdays, new beginnings and changes and any occasion such as fluoridating its water supply.

There have been changes over the years as the town center has changed, volunteers have aged and interests have changed, but some of the old traditions still attract, like the Jamboree, now billed as ‘2.0’ . This event replaced the Osawatomie Free Fair in 1966 when county commissioners decided to fund a single county fair rather than one in each town. Maybe Railroad Day and Kansas Day will also return.

Surely there are more opportunities for Osawatomie and its sister cities in the region to come together and encourage residents to be proud of who we are and what we have done. It takes thought, planning, and necessary funding, but it can all be worth it. Communal families, like nuclear families, benefit from sharing and honor. Good luck to the new committee. It is a powerful goal.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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