Museum open house to feature Christmas exhibit, live music

Credit: Finney County Historical Museum

Event Dec. 11 offers antique car rides, raffle, seasonal snacks and shopping 

GARDEN CITY — People across southwest Kansas are invited to celebrate Christmas at the Finney County Historical Museum, 403 S. Fourth St., where the annual holiday open house is returning, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 11.

The come-and-go gathering will offer seasonal snacks, live music and the museum’s Christmas exhibit, featuring a mechanical Santa’s Workshop diorama, dating to about 1950, that is displayed every other year.

There will also be unique Christmas shopping opportunities in the museum store, as well as booths with crafts and products offered by a variety of visiting vendors.  In addition, free antique car rides will be available and those who attend before or during the event can purchase tickets in a Christmas china raffle.

Admission is free and regular exhibit viewing hours during the winter season are 1 to 5 p.m. seven days weekly.

A group of volunteer carolers will perform between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., singing traditional selections of the season for the fifth consecutive year.

Shopping Opportunities

Among shopping opportunities in the museum store, open concurrently with exhibits and during the open house, are long and short-sleeve T-shirts that replicate sugar sack images from the old Garden City Sugar Factory that operated from 1906 to 1955, as well as two styles of commemorative Garden City Big Pool shirts.  

Other items include gifts and souvenirs linked to local and area history and culture, Garden City and Kansas-specific items, toys inspired by past times and a selection of books by local and regional authors on regional and historical topics.

The Finney County Historical Society’s 2022 Historic Finney County Calendar will be on sale during the open house, too, featuring scenes from the U.S. Army air base that operated locally during World War II.

Vendor booths will be set up in the museum’s meeting room and adjacent hallway. Entry for the open house will be available through the main and north doorways.

The antique car rides, popular each year at the event, are expected to include a selection of vehicles dating as far back as the 1940s.

Raffle Tickets

The raffle, with tickets at $5 each or five for $20, includes a chance to win four, five-piece place settings of vintage American Christmas Tree china donated by former Garden City resident Alan Riedel.

The Christmas diorama displayed in the museum’s Front Door Gallery will be flanked by a display of Santa Claus “uniforms” worn in past decades by several residents who have portrayed St. Nicholas and Mrs. Claus.

The diorama itself, which has been undergoing repairs, stands three feet high and seven feet wide.  Originally built around 1950 by Gregory Motors of Brooklyn, NY, it incorporates seven moving figures, including Santa Claus and his elves as they prepare toys and gifts for delivery around the world.  It was discovered early in 2015 in an old coal storage area at the Windsor Hotel, dirty and damaged, and donated to the historical society by the Finney County Preservation Alliance though efforts of the late Don Harness.

Local craftsman, carpenter and toy collector Tom Herman devoted 50-60 volunteer hours to cleaning, repairing and putting the three-dimensional display into working condition.  Some Garden City residents recall seeing the display at Garnand Furniture many Christmas seasons ago, when the store occupied much of the 19th Century hotel’s ground floor.