Friday, September 4, 2009

Saturday Morning in "Old" Overland Park

It's a long distance from Yoder, Kansas, locale of my previous posting, to downtown Overland Park - geographically (223 Google Miles) and equally distant culturally. The events attended were different, rural Yoder's long-time running annual Heritage Festival, and suburban OP's weekly farmers market and a second annual Hot Pepper Eatin' Contest. At Yoder, they were selling Amish baked goods and quilts, at Overland Park - peaches, heirloom tomatoes, and Asiago focaccia.
The contrasts in these two Kansas communities are numerous, yet I feel equally comfortable in either environment. If I get across nothing else in this blog posting, I would like that to be how many genuinely nice people I met in each place, the warmth of the smiles, and how gratifying it was to watch families relaxing together and enjoying life in Kansas.
Downtown is one of my two favorite places in Overland Park, the other being the street where I live. In those places I can forget for awhile that I reside in sprawling, land-grabbing suburbia with its wearisome traffic and cookie-cutter strip malls and housing developments. Downtown OP has charm. In this blog, I will share some of the sights of a Saturday morning there, including video/slide shows of the Farmers Market and the amazing Hot Pepper Eatin' Contest sponsored by Cobinsteinz Farms.

Farmers Market Video ~

Hot Pepper Eatin' Contest Video ~

"Old Bill" - William B Strang, Jr. - has presides over this main intersection in downtown Overland Park. Railroad magnate Strang arrived in the area in 1905, established a rail line from Kansas City to Olathe, Kansas, and plotted subdivisions in tthe vicinity, one of which was named Overland Park. The Dragon Inn behind Strang's statue has been at its location since 1975.

One of the numerous Santa Fe Trail markers in the area is at this intersection in downtown Overland Park. The markers were placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Strang's carriage house, located in a nearby Overland Park Commons, serves as a museum for the OP Historical Society. Also in the vicinity (not pictured here) is the trolley barn used by Strang's rail line. It is now Traditions Furniture store.

On this morning, a small group was practicing what appeared to me to be some form of martial art. In addition to the restful green spaces and clean public restrooms, the Commons has a bandstand large enough to hold concerts featuring the Overland Park Civic Symphony and Civic Band.

Here's a blast from the past - a real barber shop, complete with traditional barber shop chairs, barber pole, and conversation. Red's Barber Shop also sports a collection of caps.

Now & Then - primitive and antique home furnishings - one of the unique shopping opportunities along Santa Fe Drive.

Ten Thousand Villages - I enjoy this store. A Fair Trade establishment operated by a non-profit charitable organization, featuring arts and crafts made from around the world. You can always find unique gift or home decor items knowing the money will actually end up going to the to the artist/artesan.

More about downtown Overland Park:


Coming Soon - SHOT IN KANSAS! - Photo Exhibit
October 1 -31, 2009
Black Dog Coffeehouse

12815 West 87th Parkway, Lenexa, Kansas

Invitation: There will be an exhibit kick-off (sort of my own First Friday without wine) on Friday, October 2 from 7 to 9 pm. In addition to viewing these Kansas photos, join us in the meeting room of the Black Dog for brewed coffee and treats.


  1. Loved this! Are you the same Frank Thompson who collects antique cars?

  2. Dear Mr. Thompson,
    What a lovely post about Overland Park. I almost never read blogs or post on them, but your name comes up so often, I had to see what you wrote.

    I too have come to love Downtown Old Overland Park. Soon, we intend to be a permanent fixture there as a community-based, non-profit cultural center.

    I look forward to meeting you some time soon. You can contact me through the website I posted with.
    Many thanks, best wishes,
    Nicole Emanuel, Founder
    InterUrban ArtHouse, 501(c)3
    The Mission of the InterUrban ArtHouse is to enrich the cultural and economic vibrancy of the community by creating a place where artists and creative industries can work and prosper in an affordable, sustainable and inclusive environment.