In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Kansas was rife with eccentrics and entrepreneurs, from snake-oil salesmen to the infamous “goat gland doctor.” Now, Dodge City residents can get a taste of what this time period was like through a talk hosted by Boot Hill Museum titled “Hucksters, Barkers, and Sideshows.”
The free talk will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, at the museum’s Long Branch Saloon. It will be led by Erika Nelson, an independent artist and educator.
“I think it’s part of that storytelling culture, myth and legend,” Nelson said. “The way that communities create identity is sometimes through their legendary showman.”
Sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council and High Plains Journal, the talk is part of Boot Hill’s adult education program “Quest for the West,” which offers a discussion three times per year.
“I think she’s going to be really entertaining and I think it will be a real fun afternoon,” Karen Pankratz, curator of exhibits and interpretation for the museum, said.
“We try to pick ones first of all that we think will be interesting to our guests and we try to stay within things that are relevant to Dodge City and the time period that we represent,” she added.
In addition to giving talks, Nelson has a mobile museum named “The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things,” where she collects odd and unique items. She said she first became interested in Saturday’s topic while researching sideshows for her museum.
“I love coming to communities and seeing what their part of the story is,” Nelson said.
The talk is part of the Kansas Humanities Council’s “The Way We Worked” Speakers Bureau. The Council conducts and supports community-based programs, serves as a financial resource and encourages Kansans to engage with their communities’ civic and cultural life.
For more information on Saturday’s talk, contact the Boot Hill Museum at 620-227-8188.