By RON WILSON
Kansas State University
Tasty pies and classic cars. That sounds like a recipe for a fun weekend. Today, we’ll learn about a rural community which combines those things for a big community festival every year.
Sandy Kruse is the mayor of Gypsum. She is also a key volunteer with the annual event now known as the Gypsum Pie Festival and Car Show.
Sandy was born in Salina. In 1961, she and her husband moved to Gypsum where she’s lived ever since. Sandy is now semi-retired from her position as a registered nurse at Tammy Walker Cancer Center in Salina. She was also elected mayor of Gypsum in 2017.
Several years ago, Sandy and her family had a big Memorial Day picnic. They invited friends to bring their classic cars. It was so much fun that this has become an annual event, put on by a committee of volunteers from the community.
Some years ago, Sandy and her husband had visited the annual meatloaf festival in Paxico. “If people come out for meatloaf, surely they would come out for pie,” her husband said. It was decided that Gypsum could host a pie festival to go with a classic car show.
On Sunday, May 30, 2021, the annual pie festival and car show will take place in Gypsum. “We encourage area churches and nonprofit organizations to sell pies,” Sandy said. Community organizations support their activities by selling homemade pies, by the slice or by the pie. Craft vendors will be there as well.
The committee has ordered 155 fruit pies and 30 cream pies to be sold at the city auditorium, in addition to the pies sold by other groups. Flavors include apple, cherry, rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry rhubarb, gooseberry, peach, blueberry, bumbleberry (which is mixed fruit), pecan and many more. Cream pies include chocolate, lemon, coconut cream, peanut butter, and other flavors. Is your mouth watering yet? This year, the city is even selling ice cream to go with the pie.
The event’s proceeds are used for community beautification. “One year we bought planters downtown, another year we bought a sound system for the city, and we’ve helped pay for the new ‘Welcome to Gypsum’ sign,” Sandy said.
The car show consists mostly of hot rods and classic cars. Some cars are highly customized.
“I have a 1951 shoebox Ford,” Sandy said.
Entries are $20.
“We’ve had as many as 200 cars,” Sandy said.
Instead of trophies, the winning car entries win – what else? – a pie.
Gypsum is located on Kansas Highway 4. The highway will be temporarily closed so the show can take place on Main Street in town
In addition to the annual festival, Sandy is proud of the progress which has been made in the community.
“My biggest priority as mayor is to have the levee certified, which is a requirement of FEMA,” she said. “We have a number of young families that have opened businesses here, such as Exit 14 restaurant, K-4 Garage, McKim Service, and the newest, a body shop named Augies Rod and Custom,” she said.
“He lives in Gypsum and works as a fireman in Salina,” Sandy said. He did body work on Sandy’s car and now has opened his own shop.
Community groups are also working on senior housing and summer youth programs. As a memorial project, families have purchased benches that are found throughout the town.
“We are making Gypsum more welcoming,” Sandy said. “We invite people to join us. We expect more than a thousand people (for the festival).” Visitors have come from as far away as Indiana and California. That’s impressive for a rural community like Gypsum, population 405 people. Now, that’s rural.
For more information, check out Gypsum pie festival and car show on Facebook.
Tasty pies and classic cars. That sounds like a wonderful combination, and that is what we will find in Gypsum on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. We commend Sandy Kruse and all the volunteers who are making a difference by putting on such a fun event in Gypsum. With that, please pass the pie.
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Ron Wilson is director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.