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Main Street in Rural America . . . It’s a Whole Mood (As the Kids Say)

This week I posted a passage on our Destination : Council Grove Facebook page about tips for improving the aesthetics of storefronts. It is called ‘A Word About Storefronts - Part 2, By Robert McLaughlin.'


The steps are simple, and it is stuff business owners think about often, but I thought it was a concise and well-written piece covering concepts like “unity, not conformity,” and lighting. A few things that those of us responsible for business facades might not always consider.


When the Council Grove Area Trade & Tourism Association moved our location from the 200 block of West Main to the 100 block, we were excited to jazz up a new-to-us storefront in downtown CG. Our brick facade is in great shape, and we love the mix of old and new for our vibe, so we’re pleased as punch with how it turned out. We designed big, bold vinyl, added planters, and our sign (lit with subtle solar lighting) will be in place soon.


Main Street in Council Grove is clearly a work in progress. Buildings are changing hands, and updates are always in the works. So many of our business owners understand the importance of charm and aesthetics. They are doing their best to create a wonderful experience for our residents and visitors. For that, you all get a Chamber round of applause!

Creating beautiful spaces in our community cannot start and stop with our business owners, however. Homeowners, especially those on a Main Street, have a responsibility too.


Our community’s economic vibrancy is displayed on our Main Street — both the east and west sides alike.


My family and I purchased a mammoth fixer-upper on Main Street in April 2021. Inside we’ve accomplished a lot of tasks . . .with many, many, many to go. But outside, we’re still lacking. The weight of this lacking is always heavy on my heart.


I understand there is a more immense responsibility than just home ownership when you purchase real estate on a Main Street in a rural town. My family and I directly contribute to the entire mood of our town.


Our goal is that when people come to Council Grove and pass by our house, it feels like a billboard for the beauty, charm, and pride that our community holds in its heart. We want our visitors to see our home and think, “Wow, Council Grove is full of charm!” “They take such pride in their homes and buildings!” “I want to live here!”


While only about 1/8 of our home renovation goals are complete, we hope we’re beginning to deliver that feeling. We’re only two people, our budget is limited, and we have a million creative ideas that tend to pull us into an anxiety-ridden state of inaction on the daily.


But we won’t give up. We will have this behemoth of a project wrestled into a state of charm and beauty someday because that was the responsibility we took on. Not just for ourselves and our children but also for our community. So Main Street (and surrounding areas) homeowners and building owners, will you join me in looking at your space with a critical eye? Let’s ask ourselves if we are putting our best foot forward . . . not just for ourselves, but our community and our visitors too.


It seems simple, but the impact on our economic vitality and community culture is unending. Also, home renovation misery loves company, right?


Are you looking for things to do in our area in the coming weeks?


Take a break from all that upkeep and renovation to join us on October 1st for Council Grove’s first annual PrairieFire, an evening of worship and fun at our Riverwalk Amphitheater.


And October 7th and 8th, be sure to head downtown for Second Saturdays in Council Grove.


Our business community is doing what they do best — creating fun experiences and deals just for you. Plus, this Second Saturday has the added fun of SETHFEST! The Council Grove Arts Council has created two days of the artsiest fun you can imagine! Check out the @CGAC Facebook page for all the event times, locations, and details.

During Sethfest, The Territory Ballroom is hosting Gathering in the Grove. This long-running, Flint Hills juried art show is under new leadership, and us Chamber girls are excited to see its evolution into a new era. The Gathering in the Grove team has big shoes to fill, as this show has a deep history of success and opportunity built by previous generations.


Are you an artist or craftsman in the Flint Hills? Enter your work for possible exhibition by going to councilgrove.com/shop. The only fee this year is the entry fee, and no commission will be taken off sales of your work. But hurry! The deadline to apply is Friday, September 30th.

I’m excited for all this and much more in October — especially the opportunity to begin my collection of Flint Hills art!

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