Good News from Abilene, Kansas!

By Abilene CVB on May 13, 2022

April showers bring May recognition, grants, events and visitors

Last week’s National Travel and Tourism Week marked the jumpstart to many big things happening in Abilene.
“We have so much good news to share,” said Julie Roller Weeks, Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau director. “Despite challenges over the last two years, we haven’t stopped marketing Abilene. That relentlessness now leads to great success and recognition for our five-star community.”


On Monday, USA TODAY announced Abilene as a finalist in its Best Historic Small Town contest category for the fourth year in a row. Supporters are encouraged to visit to vote daily in this online contest. In 2021, Abilene ranked #4 in the nationwide competition. Abilene ranked #2 and #8, respectively, in the 2020 and 2019 contests.
“This recognition four years in a row showcases our success in marketing Abilene as the best historic small town to visit,” Roller Weeks said. “Ranking in a nationwide contest is a big deal for a small Kansas community and something businesses, attractions, employees, volunteers and residents should be proud of.”
As of May 13, Abilene ranked #1 out of 20 finalists.


On Friday, Lt. Governor and Commerce Secretary David Tolland announced Abilene as the recipient of a $22,000 Kansas Tourism Attraction Development Grant to construct the World’s Largest Belt Buckle. The buckle will include a spiral staircase so visitors can take photos “wearing” the WLBB.
Local artist Jason Lahr, Fluters Creek Metal Works, will construct the buckle. The buckle, featuring Abilene icons such as Wild Bill Hickok, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Historic Seelye Mansion, C.W. Parker carousel horse, Greyhound and others, will add to Abilene’s Cowboy Art Trail. The trail includes the Rittel’s Western Wear Big Spur, Abilene High School Abilene Cowboy statue, and soon-to-be completed cowboy boot art walk.
“This project celebrates our cowboy culture and gives visitors something fun and quirky to visit. It is also a visualization of Abilene’s resiliency to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and rebound in a BIG way,” Roller Weeks said. 
The current World’s Largest Belt Buckle was created by Montana Silversmiths and stands at 10’6” by 14’6.4”. 
“We hope to have this project completed in time for the return of the Central Kansas Free Fair, Wild Bill Hickok PRCA Rodeo and the Kansas Tourism-sponsored Kansas Media Event in August,” she said.
More information about the project, including sponsorship and recognition opportunities, will be available soon. 


This weekend, Abilene will be a buzz with destination-worthy events! From the Dickinson County Heritage Center’s Big Band Concert and Meadowlark Swap Meet to Abilene Antique Festival, Arts and Ales and the Holm Automotive Center’s Free Car and Truck Show visitors and residents will have plenty to see and do. Those who need a break can rest aboard the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad and enjoy rides along their newly upgraded track. Rides will be at 10 am and 2 pm with a special dinner train at 6 pm.
“It’s wonderful to see the community working together to coordinate events that make Abilene a destination,” Roller Weeks said. “I’m excited to welcome visitors to Abilene!”

New Businesses and Expanded Hours

In Abilene, construction continues for a new Holiday Inn Express and Suites. Once the new property is open, they will rebrand the former Holiday Inn Express property.
“There aren’t many places around the state or country constructing new hotels right now,” Roller Weeks said. “We are thankful for the Ghosh Hajra family’s commitment to Abilene and appreciate this investment.”
Construction at Legacy Kansas also continues next door to the new Holiday Inn Express. Legacy Kansas combines two amazing restaurants in one location featuring Kansas City American Royal-winning dry-aged steaks and the Brookville Hotel’s World-Famous Fried Chicken.
The restaurant plans to reopen in the summer of 2022.
“The number of calls and questions we receive about Legacy Kansas keeps us busy; travelers are so excited for this destination restaurant to open,” she said.

On Friday, M&R Grill announced it will open on Mondays starting on May 23. The restaurant will feature new hours and menus, including new lunch and happy hour menus.
Aksent Boutique in downtown Abilene also recently reopened its doors to walk-in traffic, and Trollslända Toy Store will open on Saturday from 10:00 am - 5:30 pm for the weekend activities. 


The Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau is pleased to announce the addition of Sharolyn Adams to serve as its Tourism Assistant. Adams will assist visitors and groups with planning their trips and welcome visitors to Abilene. Adams, a Dickinson County native, previously worked at the Geary Community Healthcare Foundation.
“Sharolyn is a wonderful addition to the CVB staff,” Roller Weeks said. “Her knowledge of the area, administrative assistance experience, exceptional customer service and overall enthusiasm will help elevate Abilene tourism.”
The CVB plans to reopen its Visitors Center by Memorial Day, where Adams will greet guests and answer questions about visiting Abilene.
While Eliza Hersey, wife of town founder Timothy Hersey, named Abilene after a verse in the bible loosely meaning “city of the plains” today’s Abilene is the “city of promotion and progress”.
“Good things are happening in Abilene!” Roller Weeks said.
To learn more about Abilene visit or @VisitAbilene on Facebook.