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Coming Events

February 8, 2018 
Cook Series Event: Penner and Rowe to Present "The Nooks and Crannies of Kansas" 7 p.m.
Location: Brown Grand Theatre

Cook Series event

Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe will present “The Nooks and Crannies of Kansas” as the next event of Cloud County Community College’s Cook Series on February 8 at 7:00 p. m. at the Brown Grand Theatre in Concordia. Penner and Rowe’s presentation will follow the presentation of the 2017 Cook Legacy Award for the Arts to Susie Haver.   

Penner is the executive director of the Inman-based Kansas Sampler Foundation, and author, speaker, promoter and supporter of rural Kansas.  She and her dad founded the Foundation in 1993 after traveling the state to write three guidebooks.  Addressing two main issues that they observed on their early travels, the mission of the Foundation is to preserve and sustain rural culture by educating Kansans about Kansas and networking and supporting rural communities.

In 2012, Penner and assistant director and co-author WenDee Rowe embarked on a four-year journey to visit every one of the 626 incorporated cities in Kansas.  The main result of that journey is their new Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers.  

“We will take the audience on a picture journey throughout the state, sharing road trip ideas and telling stories about their adventures. From restaurant suggestions to art, architecture, history, geography and more, we’ll give you a sampling of what to see in Kansas and share tips on how to explore,” says Penner.

After the program, the co-authors will sign and sell the Kansas Guidebook 2.  The 480-page, coil-bound book is chock-full of information that can be used to plan Kansas road trips.  Along with 4,500 entries that provide descriptions, directions, hours, and contact information, there are more than 1,600 color pictures.  Rowe says, “Many people will be interested in the 843 restaurants, cafes, drive-in’s, and soda fountains!” 

Among the diverse entries, guidebook users will find historic bridges, beautiful statues, specialty shops, quirky sites, little known points-of-interest, cemetery finds, bike trails and backroad scenic drives statewide. Rowe said, “There really is something for everyone whether you are looking for outdoor sites or ways to get to know a town.”

According to Penner, “Though the book reads like a travel guide, it’s intended to help people get to know the state and learn about towns of every size.”

Some of the better-known projects of the Foundation are the Kansas Sampler Festival, the Kansas Explorers Club, the Big Rural Brainstorm, the 8 Wonders of Kansas contests and guidebook, the PowerUp Movement, and the 2005 Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.

Penner was named Distinguished Kansas of the Year in 2005 and has received other state and national awards for her work with rural communities.  Find more information at

This year marks the 26th anniversary of the Charles and Marian Cook Series at Cloud County Community College.  The Cooks were travelers who wanted to bring the world to those who could not travel themselves.  Over 70 events have been presented under the auspices of the Cook Foundation and the Division of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Business in the past quarter-century.  It always has been Marian Cook’s wish that all Cook Series events are free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Brenton Phillips, Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Business at Cloud County Community College, 2221 Campus Drive, Concordia.