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The Hidden Gems of Kansas


One of the parts that make Kansas the fantastic state we all know and love is the small agricultural communities that fill the rural areas. Serving as a state officer, I’ve been given the opportunity to travel to many different communities that represent our small-town culture. As I visit, one of my favorite things to do is stop into local restaurants that are unique to the community. Not only do I like the home-style cooked meals they provide, but you truly get a grasp of who the people are and what they believe in. I was able to observe this during one of my trips back from a Chapter Leadership Training (CLT). 

On my way back from CLT, my stomach made the suggestion I should stop for dinner. I decided to stop in at the first small town with a restaurant I found, and give their local food a try. Simpson Kansas was the next town I saw, so naturally, I turned towards it. Right off the main road was a restaurant called “Trapper Joe’s”.As I walked in, I was instantly engaged by the fliers of different ads for local businesses, newspaper clips written over some high school athletics, fundraiser ads for clubs and organizations, and current events.  

This sticks out to me because I notice that in small-town communities, businesses support the people around them, especially their youth. It would be safe to say the local youth dominated the majority of newspaper clips, ads, and fliers hung at the entrance of the restaurant. Observing this, I could tell, Simpson cared for the future of our country. They care so much, that they invest in the leaders of tomorrow, our youth. Trapper Joe’s however, did not stop with their support at the entrance. 

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When I was seated and given a menu, I opened it to read that the beef was supplied locally from a ranch within the community. They were able to support the beef industry not only on a national scale by purchasing beef produced here in America. Better yet, buying beef produced here in Kansas. And I happily report the steak had been delicious. After the meal, I looked up from my happy plate to see a steady flow of other customers smiling, laughing, and enjoying their meal time. I realized I still had a hunger, not for food, but for understanding. I wanted to understand more about the people who filled this small town. 

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I found a kind couple who were very glad to converse with me. I asked them, “What makes Simpson Kansas so great”? To which they replied with, “The people of course”. Being a small town of 82 people, they are filled with farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural-related workers. It so turned out that the gentlemen I spoke to grew up on a farm not too far from the restaurant. Though he didn’t pursue a career in production, he said it had been one of, if not the most beneficial experience he had growing up. He said, “There is no other joy quite like farming. You may have tough days, but by working past the more challenging days, you receive the most significant rewards.

One thing I am certain of is that the atmosphere in communities like Simpson’s exists throughout the entire state. Each with a multitude of people who support the ag industry. Whether it be the producers supplying the fresh food, the restaurants serving local beef, or the families supporting their kids as they participate in FFA or 4-H, these communities are some of the strongest supporters of the agriculture industry. I encourage you, next time you’re on the road and feeling hungry, turn towards one of these hidden gems of a town. Support their local restaurants and give them a try. By supporting them, they will be better able to support their communities, and more importantly their youth. As local places like Trapper Joe’s support our youth, they brighten the future as they support the leaders of tomorrow. 

Kai Cox State Sentinel

Kai Cox

2023-2024 State Sentinel