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Game Faces - Part 5

Exhibit logoOur Traditions

Some sporting activities remind people of who they are. Sports clubs and annual events can reinforce a community's roots.


A Bit of the Old Country

Topeka's German-American Turner Society, 1908

Immigrant groups try to maintain their ethnic identity after moving to a new land. They transplant traditions and activities from the old country to their new homes.

German settlers coming to Kansas after the Civil War brought with them an interest in gymnastics, or turning. They established clubs called Turnvereins and built gymnasiums.

The Topeka Turners participated in several sports. Fencing was a popular activity. George Krauss used these foils and masks as a member in the 1890s.

Turner fencing foils and masksTurnvereins often had classes for women and men of all ages.  While Turners devoted time to gymnastics, they also developed skills with "apparatus" like Indian clubs.

Although athletics was a major focus, Turner Halls also were social centers for the German community.  They hosted parties and balls.


Flint Hills Rodeo chapsRide 'em Cowboy

Which came first, the tradition or the sport? Most sports begin as a game, and over time develop their own traditions. Rodeo is a set of traditions that has become a sport.  All rodeo events have their origins in ranching tasks.

Since 1937, this sport has brought one Kansas community together for the annual Flint Hills Rodeo.  Today it is Kansas' oldest consecutive annual rodeo.

The Roberts family started the Flint Hills Rodeo when their children developed a passion for the sport. Marge, the eldest, began performing at the tender age of 13, and her younger brothers Ken and Gerald quickly followed her lead. Their father, Emmett Roberts, indulged his childrens' obsession by opening up his own ranch to participants and spectators.

Gerald Roberts made these chaps for a "pick-up man" at the Flint Hills Rodeo. Pick-up men help bronc and bareback riders to the ground after a ride.  The "FHR" emblazoned on the chaps stands for "Flint Hills Rodeo."

"Ranching is the basis of our heritage in [Chase] county. Rodeo comes from that."--Arlene Bailey, Flint Hills Rodeo Association, 2006


Game Faces: Kansans in Sports is an online exhibit developed by the Kansas Museum of History.

  1. Introduction - There's no "I" in "Team"
  2. Our Town - Cheering on the home team
  3. Our Team - Fan is short for fanatic
  4. Our World - Sports make the world a little smaller
  5. Our Traditions - Some games reinforce our roots
  6. Our Friends - Socializing can be as important as competition

Audio Tour

Listen to the curators' Game Faces audio tour online or download it to your mp3 player!