Fans of the Santa Fe Trail will get a chance to celebrate its history this weekend.


     Fans of the Santa Fe Trail will get a chance to celebrate its history this weekend.
     The Dodge City/Fort Dodge/Cimarron Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association is hosting the 2011 Santa Fe Trail Symposium today through Sunday at the Magouirk Conference Center, 4000 W. Comanche St. The event includes several speakers who will talk about the trail's role in Western history.
     "We've got just a week full of activities and a lot of neat things," coordinator Jim Sherer said Wednesday.
     Today's activities begin at 7:30 a.m. with registration in the Magouirk Conference Center lobby, and vendor tables will be open. The Santa Fe Trail Association Board meeting will start at 8 a.m., followed by a day of sightseeing and shopping around town.
     The local chapter will host an open reception from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Fort Dodge, which was founded in 1865. The evening will include heavy hors d'oeuvres, music and entertainment.
     Local officials will welcome patrons from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Friday at the conference center, followed by keynote speaker Dr. Leo Oliva's presentation "Forts Mann and Atkinson on the Santa Fe Trail" from 8:30 to 9:30. Following a short break, Oliva will return at 10 a.m. to talk about "Fort Dodge on the Santa Fe Trail."
     Noel Ary will discuss daily life in early Dodge City from 11 a.m. to noon for people interested in local history.
     Bus tours of historic sites are scheduled for Friday afternoon, followed by dinner and entertainment from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Boot Hill Museum.
     More speakers will cover various aspects of life along the Santa Fe Trail Saturday morning, followed by bus tours.
     Patrons will visit the Boot Hill Rut Site, located nine miles west of Dodge on U.S. Highway 50/400, for a rededication ceremony from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Following the ceremony, patrons will return to Dodge for dinner, awards and a silent auction.
     The symposium will end with a farewell ceremony from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the ruts site.
     About 175 people have signed up for the symposium so far, but walk-ins are encouraged to register today, Friday and Saturday at the door. Registration is $30 for one day or $60 for two days, which covers admission to the morning speakers but does not include meals or other activities.
     Sherer said he has spent the past two years planning the symposium, which is designed to educate people about the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas.
     "It's basically to highlight and spotlight this area for people," he said. "Maybe they've passed through here, but they've not had a chance to really learn about our specific sites."
     Sherer said he wanted to thank the community, including other chapter members and the Dodge City Convention and Visitors Bureau, for helping put the symposium together.

     Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.