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Information on Tallgrass Nature and Science Writing Workshop April 12-13, 2019

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Sarah Smarsh

Photo by Paul Andrews 

“Heartland” author Sarah Smarsh to keynote the 2019 Tallgrass workshop

Sarah Smarsh, author of “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth” will be the keynote speaker at the 2019 Tallgrass Writing Workshop, the Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State has announced.

Smarsh will deliver the conference keynote on Saturday, April 13, at the Emporia Arts Center. She will also be part of the workshop faculty, and will lead a session earlier in the day for participants.

“Sarah Smarsh has emerged as one of the most significant voices about contemporary life in America,” said Max McCoy, a professor of journalism and the director of the Center for Great Plains Studies at ESU. “She grew up in Kansas, and she writes exceedingly well about place, in both the geographic and the cultural sense. We’re grateful that she has agreed to share her talent and insight with our participants, and to provide the keynote on Saturday.” 

The New York Times recently called Smarsh’s new book "a deeply humane memoir with crackles of clarifying insight" that takes its place among a growing body of important works about class in America. A native Kansan, Sarah has reported on socioeconomic class, politics and public policy for The GuardianThe New York Times, The New Yorker and Harper's online. 

The two-day workshop will begin Friday, April 12, with Science and Nature field activities in the Flint Hills. On Saturday, all sessions will be held at the Emporia Arts Center, 815 Commercial. Smarsh’s keynote, at 2 p.m., will wrap up the workshop.

The full workshop schedule, including the rest of the faculty, will be announced later.

Workshop participants will have access to all events, including the keynote. Early registration is $140. Those wishing to attend only Smarsh’s keynote may reserve a seat, at $55. In January, prices will increase to $160 for workshop registration, and $65 for the keynote only. Seating is limited. To reserve space in the workshop, or to reserve a seat for the keynote, please contact the Center for Great Plains Studies, at 620 341-5574 or



A big thanks to ALL for the fun event at the Howe House! 



Antique Farm Power on Display at Farmstead Celebration

A rare glimpse of antique farm machinery in action will be part of the day-long celebration Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Howe House and Welsh Farmstead, 315 E. Logan. The celebration marks the conclusion of the sesquicentennial year of the home, which is the oldest in Emporia. The Flint Hills Antique Power Association will hold activities all day, and the highlight will be the demonstration of a 1922 Ann Arbor stationary baler and threshing machine. We will have a range of tractors on display with the start-up taking place at noon,said Dale DeLong, President of the FHAPA. Founded in 2000, the club has about 125 members and hosts Plow Days each year in June on local members farm. Members also participate in old power tractor pulls and threshing and baling demonstrations for community festivals such as the Howe House celebration. DeWayne Backhus, chair of the Lyon County Historical Society committee planning the celebration, said the antique power demonstration is important because it represents the transition to mechanized farming that took place a century ago. The Howe House is maintained by the historical society, which also operates the Lyon County History Center and Museum at 711 Commercial.

The Howe homestead was built in 1867 by pioneers Richard and Sarah Howe, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To me the power was quite an accomplishment, Delong said. You could farm a lot more acres with a lot less labor. Farmers went from walking with a horse to literally stepping up and riding on a tractor, (and) that was a big deal.A tractor must be 30 years or older to be considered antique per club guidelines. The range of tractors at the Howe Farmstead will include machines from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s. Club members will be on hand throughout the day to visit with the community about the antique power and the tractors on display. Members not only collect antique power, they often use these machines on their own working farms.

I use all my tractors on the farm, DeLong said, We are a White and Oliver family. I plow with the White 2255, it came from an internet auction in Canada. Shipping it across the border was quite an ordeal because of possible seed contamination. Additional activities on Saturday at the Farmstead include home-life demonstrations, tours of the house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a food court open from 11:45 to 1:15. The Center for Great Plains Studies at Emporia State will be gathering oral histories. Staff will be on hand making audio recordings of those wishing to share their family stories of coming to and living in the community. The oral histories of family immigration will be archived in both centers.