Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Kansas Tourism, Sunflower Summer


At a glance: Sunflower Summer, offered by Kansas Tourism, is offering Kansas families free tickets to more than 220 attractions across Kansas during the summer of 2024.

More information: Ron Wilson, rwilson@ksu.edu, 785-532-7690
Photos: Ron Wilson | Jordan Roemerman

Website: Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development

May 15, 2024

Portrait, Ron Wilson

By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University

“School’s out!”

Soon that joyous cry will be shared and heard by kids across the nation, as the school year comes to an end. Mom and dad might not be so excited. But what is next? Today we’ll learn about a Kansas initiative which is aimed at getting families out to enjoy summertime attractions in the Sunflower State.

Jordan RoemermanJordan Roemerman is marketing manager for Kansas Tourism, a division of the Kansas Department of Commerce. A native of Stafford, she went to Kansas State University and worked in communications for Kansas Wheat before joining Kansas Tourism in 2019. She has taken the lead on a new project called Sunflower Summer.

At right: Jordan Roemerman | Download this photo

“It actually began in the Kansas Department of Education in 2021,” Roemerman said. COVID relief dollars were used to encourage educational summer activities. When that program was about to end, the results were so positive that the program was chosen to continue under the auspices of Kansas Tourism, beginning in summer 2024.

“Sunflower Summer is a way to help Kansas families explore the state of Kansas for free,” Roemerman said. Through a website, Kansas families can access a mobile app that provides free access to more than 220 attractions across the state.

“There is a downloadable app for Apple and Android,” Roemerman said. “A Kansas-based developer designed this program specifically for Sunflower Summer.”

The website is www.sunflowersummer.org.

From that website, a family can download the mobile app onto their smartphone, set up an account, and access free tickets to participating Kansas attractions.

The program is for Kansans only and is targeted to families with children. The free tickets are for use by children ages pre-K to grade 12, plus up to two guardians. Guardian tickets can also be transferred to family members and other trusted adults. Public, private and home-schooled children are eligible.

The program is available from May 25 to August 11. Free tickets are for each family’s one-time use at each venue.

When the Kansas Tourism staff learned that they would be managing the program, they set out to expand its offerings. “We pounded the pavement,” Roemerman said. The staff reached out to more attractions in various regions of the state to encourage participation.

“We’ve diversified the types of attractions as well as locations across the state,” she said. The number of participating attractions is up 120% this year.

The participating attractions are located border to border and corner to corner of Kansas. They range from the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison in the northeast, to the Morton County Historical Museum in Elkhart in the southwest corner, with more than 200 ticketed and free community attractions in between.

Attractions are located in urban and rural settings, ranging from Exploration Place in Wichita to the Geneseo City Museum in the rural community of Geneseo, population 236 people. Now, that’s rural.

Attractions are grouped into four categories: Nature and animals, arts and sports, amusement and water parks, and museums and history. Each grouping sounds like a lot of fun.

All this should combat unfair negative perceptions of Kansas. “One of my coworkers says, ‘People from outside told us there was nothing to do in Kansas, and Kansans believed them,’” Roemerman said.

“We want to develop that Kansas pride from an early age and have kids be excited about our state,” she said. “There are communities using this to attract businesses, and in the long run, it could be a resident retainment tool.”

“We want Kansas kids to get out, explore Kansas, have fun and eventually know there is a place for them here.”

“School’s out!” The cries of excited children will soon be echoing through the rapidly emptying hallways of our local schools. Now these children and their families will have the opportunity to enjoy more than 200 attractions for free, all across the state.

We commend Jordan Roemerman and Kansas Tourism for making a difference with creative tourism promotion. This summer, school is out and Kansas is in.


Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at http://www.kansasprofile.com. For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit http://www.huckboydinstitute.org.


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K‑State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well‑being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county extension offices, experiment fields, area extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K‑State campus in Manhattan. For more information, visit www.ksre.ksu.edu. K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.