Eastern Cowley County Resource Center

"Don't Forget To Smile!"

Much History In Dexter - A destination!

http://skyways.lib.ks.us/towns/Dexter/ (Visit Dexter's Official City Web Page.)

 History of the famous O'Henry Bar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Henry!

Also Ark City Traveler account of Henry's Candy Factory from 2/4/2006 story - in their archives.





 Here are some reasons for Lighthouse Library:

  • A community library for the rural Kansas town of Dexter.
  • A destination for locals & tourists alike.
  • A place to showcase local history along with other local historical sites in Dexter.
  • A reason to visit our town in the heart of America.
  • A reason to come TO & not just go THROUGH Kansas.


HISTORY IN DEXTER: The Lighthouse Library project is another great spot for tourists to stop off & see what a small Kansas town can do for others and just for fun. The library site is the Original Shadid Grocery Store – a store that belonged to the Shadid family for nearly 60 years. After that, the Kemps ran the grocery store for nearly 20 years. Before it was  a grocery story, the store was the town’s Original Dexter Movie Theatre. The marks where the theatre chairs were bolted down the slopped cement are still evident. During the demolition of the store, many horseshoes were found in the soil making one wonder if at one time a blacksmith’s shop stood nearby or if those were just shoes lost off from horses as they waited outside of the store. More will be told about the library project in detail – but first some history of the rest of the town will be offered.


The bank where the Dalton Gang staged their infamous robbers still stands – now the Mark Massey Memorial Museum complete with many original Dexter artifacts. There is a military room that documents the local military history of local mean & women way back to WWI. Military regalia are on display to include uniforms, canteens, flags, and other items.


The Original Henry’s Candy Factory stands – now “The Gathering Place”, a closed business is connected to the Lighthouse Library site.


The new Henry’s Candy Factory sits on Hwy. K-15 and sponsors many organized visits and tours. A scheduled chocolate day is set where tourists may watch the Henry’s make their own unique recipe of chocolate. Henry’s Candy was the founder of the O’Henry candy bar that was later sold to another company. The Mama Henry is now produced – a similar version of the original O’Henry bar. Henry’s Candy produces spiral suckers that are a sort of mufti-colored taffy that is shaped into a spiral. They are perhaps most famous for their Christmas candy that has a decoration all the way through the hard candy. Some have Christmas trees, others have stars, and the decoration is all the way through the hard rock candy. The outside color wraps around the white middle until you come to the colored center. Orders are taken & shipped all across the country well in advance of the Christmas season. Tourists are lucky if then can find any remaining Christmas candy by mid-November.


Craft Shops to include wood carvers are part of the town. Other local shops open for the town’s festivals. Hazel Young provided her famous Bearocks sandwiches at these events over the years. Others have followed in her footsteps with delicious home-made treats. The local church families provide wonderful chili feeds, ice cream socials, & other events. The townsfolk work together well to provide events for the public & tourists to attend & to make it a real event.



DEXTER BARBEQUE: One such event is the Dexter Annual Barbeque - 2nd Saturday in July each year. A pit beef barbeque is cooked by the local “experts”. Generations have done this event & it continues to be passed on to the upcoming generations. The meal usually consists of the great barbeque meat, pot cooked & smoked baked beans, corn on the cob, a dessert and a drink. Plates may be purchased with one or two barbeque sandwiches. The prices run from $5.00 - $7.00 a plate. Proceeds go to the Dexter Civic Club. The area churches usually provide ice cream and they split those proceeds. During the day of the BBQ, many fun street games take place for kids & adults alike. An annual fun run takes place & usually adults participate in the run. Vendors line the streets. Many of these are fund-raisers for local non-profits. The high school usually sponsors a breakfast to raise proceeds for their annual Washing D.C. trip for a history class. The Treasure Chest Store is open downtown. Vendors provide cheap drinks for the day – iced tea for 50 cents – and local cafés are also open. Some vendors sell souvenirs just to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit. There is a new event - Veterans BIKE RUN in conjunction with this event. Starts at Henry's Candy site (Fire Department benefits from the run.)


BLACKDOG FESTIVAL: (NOTE: Stopped in 2009 - hopefully to be continued in the near future.) Another annual event that is growing in interest from locals & outside visitors is the Blackdog Festival. This event is held for two days the end of September. It continues to grow so far as events & activities. Vendors line the streets for this event & provide real pop, cotton candy, souvenirs, and other snacks. An annual benefit breakfast is held for Lighthouse Library in the Dexter City Building. The breakfast usually alternates between biscuits & gravy & pancakes & sausage. The breakfast also offers “McSomethings” – a sausage, egg, & cheese sandwich – a popular choice for those wanting something to go. This is the only continuing fund-raiser for the library. 100% of the proceeds go to the library’s sustaining fund.


Once the library’s breakfast is cleaned up & out of the City Building, the DEDA (economic development group) holds their pie baking contest. Persons may cast their vote for a certain pie for $1.00 per vote. The pie with the most votes wins. Later – the pies are auctioned off & those proceeds go to fund DEDA.


The Senior Citizen’s Chicken Noodle Lunch is held each year in the Senior Citizen’s building on main street. After their lunch, area artists perform and outside “big name” performs also participate to entertain the crowd. Their performances are free to the public & are usually paid for by area non-profits & organizations. There is a talent contest for local artists with a winner announced.


In addition to all of these events, street games take place and a quit show takes place. The quilts are hand-crafted by area seamstresses and they are displayed around the city park on the fence. The public casts their vote for the best quits of the show. There winners are announced.


Drawings take place with wonderful items being given away after donations are accepted for each item. A winner is drawn for each item. Past items included hand-crafted Donis Dolls (Donis passed away in 2013), hand-crafted pieced quilts, woodcarvings by area artists, and even a lawn mover jack (Mo-Jack). Items are donated & whatever is donated is given away to the lucky winners. ECCRC usually sponsors many of these give-aways & they appreciate all the donated items. Funds from the give-away go to help fund ECCRC services.


There is a parade that consists of the local high school band, period dress of Native Americans with their tribal costumes, covered wagons with persons dressed in pioneer garb. An Indian Dance is performed by some of the Native Americans – a favorite of onlookers.

Demonstrations are held to educate the public on horse shoeing, harvesting and making molasses, quilting, jewelry making, and other crafts and old-time work. The Blackdog Festival is a free public event.(Please contact ECCRC to serve on the committee to bring back this festival: eccresourcecenter@yahoo.com)


CHRISTMAS IN THE VALLEY: Each year around the first weekend in December, the little town of Dexter comes alive as choirs sing in the downtown area. The local shops are open and decorated for the holidays. Hot cocoa & other snacks are served to visitors. Open Houses are sponsored from anything from new business dedications to renovation projects. The 2008 Celebration included the Lighthouse Library Dedication of the grounds. A Christmas story was read to children & drawings were held for free books & movie tickets. The fireplace in the meeting room will be lit & the lighthouse were decorated with Christmas lights. Several thousand commercial lights have been purchased to line the upper portion of the library & also to feature the lighthouse. The lights will line the library’s courtyard & other buildings in the years ahead.


Part of the celebration is having the local shops open late to offer crafts to shoppers. Children come to pick out & wrap gifts for their parents at the Outreach Church behind the library. Gingerbread workshops have been held at the Dexter Baptist Church for many years.

The town has a huge evergreen tree that everyone decorates. In years past, other local cities such as Burden have come over to help lift the tree into place. The new memorial Helium Park is where people gather to see what is new there & then they stop by the Senior Center next to the pocket park to warm up. Some residents host holiday open houses & other line their driveways with candles & holiday lights and the school choir sometimes performs or provides an event at the school along the same time-line as Christmas in the Valley. The Grouse Valley town of Dexter really does become Christmas in the Valley.

BEAUTIFUL COUNTRYSIDE: Dexter has many old rock bridges & in years past has been included in the county-wide bridge tours. There are area bus tours that tour the many beautiful & historical farms & ranches. There are many old barns, windmills, & acres & acres of fields of wheat, corn, soy beans, & grasslands. The rural area around Dexter is some of the most visited hunting grounds in the state. Local farms & ranches post "No Hunting" signs as the hunting grounds are either leased or not available to the public without permission. Grouse Creek surrounds Dexter as does other creeks such as Plum Creek - a feeder creek (the creek on Little House on the Prairie). There are rolling hills surrounding Dexter & Dexter rests in the Grouse Valley region.


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