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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

Kansas: Catch the spirit of the frontier

Courtesy Little House on the Prairie Museum

Tall prairie grass and wide-open skies surround the Little House on the Prairie Museum near Independence, giving visitors a sense of the Kansas frontier Laura Ingalls Wilder described in her iconic Little House on the Prairie books.

The state historic site, where the Ingalls family lived from 1869 to 1871, includes a replica one-room cabin, a restored 1872 one-room schoolhouse and a barn where meeting groups can hold a reception for 200.

“Groups also enjoy taking a walk down to Walnut Creek, which is described in her books,” said Debbie Puryear, tourism coordinator, Independence CVB.

A center for oil and railroads, the Independence area’s history is on display at the Independence Historical Museum, which accommodates up to 150 for events.

Even the city’s 124-acre Riverside Park, with its 106-acre zoo, bandstand and swimming pool, offers historic meeting sites, such as the circa-1917 Stich Shelter House. The newly renovated 2,000-seat Memorial Hall and Civic Center and the William Inge Center for the Arts at Independence Community College are other venues.

“We want meeting planners to know that although we are a community of 9,800, we can handle any size or type of group,” said Puryear. “We host the annual William Inge Theatre Festival, which draws Broadway stars and theater groups, and the state of Kansas’ largest annual celebration.”

Called Neewollah (Halloween spelled backward), the 10-day festival is attended by some 75,000 each year.