Dec 04

Gifts Made in Hays!

Posted on December 4, 2020 at 11:21 AM by Brandon Cooley

Gifts in Hays
There’s something so satisfying about giving a gift that was made locally. We have rounded up a few of our favorite things that we love to give, because they are made in Hays or they benefit some very special places. Enjoy!

Bethesda Place Ornament
Hays, Kansas Ornament
Bethesda Place is a Christian home in Hays for men with disabilities. The men of Bethesda take pride in their woodworking crafts and usually offer their items for sale around the holiday season. You can find this ornament year-round at the Welcome Center at 2700 Vine Street. While the Welcome Center is currently closed to the public, if you call ahead, our staff is happy to pop out and help you with a transaction. You can also shop our online store at  the Visit Hays Website.

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Let It Rise Bread Mix
Mixed and packaged here in Hays, this bread mix only needs a can of soda or beer added to turn into something truly delicious. With a variety of flavors like Dill, Garlic, Sweet, and Jalapeno, it’s hard to pick just one. You can pick up a bag at the Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro & Market, or have it shipped from their online store – along with other Kansas-made goodies – at the Paisley Pear Website.

PoPt Gift Items
PoPt! Gourmet Popcorn
Offering 60 gourmet flavors from Toffee Almond to Jalapeno Ranch, a gift tin of PoPt! Popcorn is sure to please. The PoPt! location in Hays is a true candy store with a wide variety of retro candies, jellybeans, and taffy, along with the frosted nuts and fudge made in-house. There’s even an option to gift a “Popcorn of the Month” subscription! See more drool-inducing options on their online store  PoPt! Website.

Gellas Gift Items-1  A Growler of Award-winning Beer from Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.
Visitors stop in from all over the country to try the craft beer you can only get in Hays. Boasting multiple awards from the Great American Beer Festival, Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing offers both tasty brews and a delicious lunch and dinner menu. Pair a growler with a gift card – or some Lb. Brewing merch – and you’ve got a winner. See options at their Lb Brewing Co. Website.

Hays Arts Center Gift Items-2
Original art from the Hays Arts Center Gift Shop
If you’re looking for a truly one-of-a-kind gift, look no further than the Hays Arts Center at 112 E. 11th Street. The HAC houses a large gallery space, as well as a gift shop with original art pieces for sale, including decorative and functional ceramics, paintings, prints, art glass, sculpture, and jewelry. Enjoy the current exhibition while you’re there! Hays Arts Council Website

Defiance Brewing Gift Items-2 (
Cans of "Awesomeness" From Defiance Brewing Co.
Defiance Brewing Co. beers are all brewed and canned right here in Hays. The brewers are known for trying out new and unexpected flavors at their taproom at 2050 E. Hwy 40. Call ahead and pick up an order of the latest ale, fruity gose, stout, or hard seltzer, along with a T-shirt with one of the coolest Kansas logos of all time: 
Defiance Brewing Co. Website.

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Old Fashioned Stick Matches from Be Made Mercantile 

The talented ladies of Be Made make these custom colorful matches in-house. Seasonal themes make them a fitting gift for any occasion, and the vintage packaging design is half the fun! Treat yourself to a trip to their beautiful two-level store in a restored historic building on Main Street in Downtown Hays or find items online at
the Be Made Mercantile Website.

Jensen Farms Gift Items
Honey from Jensen Farms
The Jensen family believes that “health is wealth and we are what we eat!” Their local honey is harvested from their own honeybees at their family farm. In addition, the Jensens grow fresh mushrooms at their restaurant, Professor’s Classic Sandwich Shop, and throw them into everything from taco salads to stir-fry. The honey lemonade alone is worth the trip! Stop by for lunch and pick up some farm-fresh deliciousness to share. Professor's Website

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Blueberry Pinot Noir from Resurrection Vineyard
Resurrection Vineyard is a 5th generation family farm that was recently repurposed from a dairy farm to a winery. The “Wine Tasting in a Basket” includes a variety of 5 of the wines made at Resurrection. Group tastings and gift basket purchases are currently available at the farm by appointment. If you can’t make it to the farm, you can always stop in Paisley Pear Wine Bar, Bistro & Market for a glass or pick up a bottle at Kaiser Liquor stores, Steinert Liquor, or 8th Street Liquor in Hays. Contact them through their Resurrection Vineyard Facebook page.

Sternberg Passes-3
Family Pass to the Sternberg Museum of Natural History
From Hays souvenirs and jewelry to toys and books for all ages, you’re sure to find something for the science lover on your list. For a gift that keeps on giving, a Sternberg Museum family pass – only $65 – gives a family free admission to the Sternberg for a year, as well as free admission to 350 participating science museums around the world! Membership passes and other items can be purchased online at their Sternberg Museum Website.

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Fort Hays Memorial Lantern
For the person who has everything, give them a chance to light up the night at Historic Fort Hays’ Christmas Past event. For your $90 donation, a tin candle lantern will be purchased with a personalized name plate for the special someone of your choice. These lanterns will eventually replace the paper bag luminaries used during the Christmas event, providing better lighting, while also being true to the time period. Though the event won’t take place in 2020 (thanks, COVID), we look forward to next year, when volunteers and visitors will celebrate with fried apples, hot cider, and homemade cookies. Find hours and contact info at
Fort Hays State Historic Site.

Dec 03

Me Oh My, We Love Pie!

Posted on December 3, 2020 at 4:31 PM by Bobbi Pfeifer

Pie Opening GFX  If you’re in the mood for comfort food that comes by the slice, we have a few delicious recommendations for you here in Hays!

Pheasant Run Pie
Cherry Pie from Pheasant Run Pancake House 

The recipe for this made-from-scratch marvel has been handed down through generations. All pies are made by Scott Jordan, grandson of the original owners of the restaurant, Rose and Larry Jordan. Different pies rotate in and out of the menu each week, so there’s always a fresh selection. Got a special occasion coming up? Call ahead to order a whole pie.

Augustines Pecan Pie Southern Pecan Pie from Augustine’s Bakery

This pecan pie may look a little different from the pecan pies you’re used to, because it is. Rather than corn syrup, owners Chad and Holly Augustine use real butter and a mix of white and brown sugars to create a dreamy taste and texture that has made this pie a customer favorite. Augustine’s Bakery was named “Best Bakery in Kansas” by Taste of Home Magazine, and they also serve up a hearty lunch.

9th St Diner PB Pie  Peanut Butter Pie from 9th Street Diner

This smooth peanut butter pie with buttery graham cracker crust is made in-house by owner Lien Quan. Lien says “I put a lot of love into my baking, and that’s what makes it taste so good.” Customers say it’s the best peanut butter pie they’ve ever had. 9th Street Diner is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Dutch Apple Pie a La Mode Dutch Apple Pie a la Mode from Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co.

Chef Manuel Hernandez gets the credit for this delectable dessert’s unique recipe. The pie is made from scratch, and the unexpected oat and crumble topping puts it over the top. This treat is served warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Gella’s was named “Most Visited Brewery in Kansas,” due to it being a favorite stop for I-70 travelers looking for a family-friendly menu.

JDs Coconut Cream PieCoconut Cream Pie from JD’s Chicken

JD’s Chicken has been serving up amazing hand-breaded fried chicken since 1970. You’ll find fruit and cream pies on the menu year-round, along with a seasonal pumpkin pie. A generous slice of the coconut cream is a perfect ending to a hearty fried chicken lunch or dinner. Don’t forget – JD’s caters!

Oct 29

5 True Tales from the Grave

Posted on October 29, 2020 at 9:16 AM by Bobbi Pfeifer

Opening Graphic
Relive the true - and sometimes tragic - stories of some of the first residents of Hays by taking a walking tour of Mount Allen Cemetery.

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1. The First Burial: Clara Allen
The first burial at Mount Allen Cemetery was Clara Allen, the daughter of Martin Allen. She died at the age of 12 of scarlet fever. At the time of Clara's death, there was not an established city cemetery, and the only place for burials was on a hill approximately a half mile north of Hays City, referred to today as Boot Hill. Many of those buried at this cemetery in the late 1860s could best be described as "rough" citizens and included those who worked at the gambling halls, brothels, saloons, as well as other desperadoes who followed the railroad track construction west. Martin Allen did not want his daughter to be buried at this cemetery, so he donated an acre of his own farmland and persuaded the town to give the remaining land needed for a public cemetery. The original grave marker has since been replaced with a granite headstone.

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2. The Circus Sideshow: baby alma
In 1918 a traveling circus stopped in Hays. "Baby Alma," who weighed 600 pounds, was one of the featured sideshows, promoted as "Baby Alma, the Fat Lady of the Circus." She was taken to City Hall, which was being used as a makeshift Red Cross nursing facility to care for the overflow of patients. It took six men to hoist her into City Hall, and a special bed was made to accommodate her. The newspaper reported that she was not an ideal patient and gained the reputation of a "nurse hater." Even as she grew weak, she would lie in bed and scream curses, spraying medicine out of her mouth "fountain like" at the nurses. Baby Alma's flu turned into pneumonia and she died of her illness. Neither her parents, who lived in California, nor the circus manager would contribute to the girl's burial. "Wouldn't even buy her a respectable casket," said Mrs. Gus Havemann, whose husband was an undertaker at the time. There are no local records of her real name. Baby Alma was buried at Mount Allen Cemetery without fanfare flourish or tears.

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3. a boy and his dog: jack downing
If you notice a grave marker with a statue of a little boy and a dog, then you have found the resting place of five-year-old Jack Downing. He was the son of J.H. Downing, who came to Hays in 1876  and was one of 13 veterans of the Civil War known to have lived in Hays. J.H. Downing came to Hays in March 1876 and founded the Ellis County Star. His chief distinction as a journalist was when he scooped every newspaper in the country on the Custer massacre at Little Big Horn. In January 1882, he purchased the Hays City Sentinel and consolidated the two papers which he operated for many years as the Star-Sentinel. The obituary for young Jack tells how this little boy was a favorite around the community with his big dog that was his constant companion as they played and scurried around town. Jack  was the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Downing, and after he died of diphtheria, they had a tombstone made of "Jackie" and his dog.


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 4. general custer's lieutenant: edwin philip eckerson
 Eckerson served as a Lieutenant in the 7th Cavalry under George Custer. He is the only Cavalry officer from that time period known to be buried at mount Allen Cemetery. He was involved with various frontier service during his military career, but received a general court-martial (charges unknown) and was dismissed from service on July 15, 1875. Evidently, with aid of some friends, he was allowed to serve in the military again, and appointed 2nd Lieutenant, 7th Calvary in May 1876. Eckerson was court-martialed again in 1878 for "conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman" (drunk and disorderly). He was dismissed from military service on June 30, 1878. He worked different jobs in Iowa and Colorado until he ended up back in Hays around 1882. his obituary indicates he was employed in the quarter master's office and Fort Hays. On February 14, 1882, he married Sophie M. Bergsland, who worked as a "domestic" at Fort's mess hall. They had two children: Regina (born December 4, 1882) and Theodore John (born October 22. Eckerson died of malaria in 1885.


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5. gun fight and heartbreak: sheriff alexander ramsey
Ellis County Sheriff Alexander Ramsey and his deputy Frank Shepard rode out of Hays City following a trail of horse thieves north to Stockton, Kansas. They spent the night on the trail and the next morning when they arrived in Stockton, learned that two men and a bunch of horses were camped outside of town. When Ramsey, his deputy, and several men from Stockton overlook the camp, Ramsey and one of the outlaws exchanged shots. Ramsey was shot in the abdomen. The horse thief was shot through the heart and killed. Ramsey died of his wound either that same day or the next day. There was no way to immediately get word to Ramsey's wife. The body was covered in canvas and loaded in a a spring wagon for the 45-mile journey back to Hays City. Ramsey's wife Mary had a strange premonition that something terrible had happened. She begged and pleaded with friends to travel north to search for husband. Arrangements were made for a horse and rig for the trip. A small group accompanied Mrs. Ramsey and they set out north toward the Saline River, where they met the spring wagon heading south with the remains of Sheriff Ramsey. Mrs. Ramsey was so distraught over the death of her husband that she became ill and died of grief on June 16, 1875. The current grave marker was erected in 1923 by the Board of the County Commissioners.

For more stories from Mount Allen Cemetery, download the full cemetery tour and map here.