Hutchinson, Kansas, also known as Smallville, Kansas, is more interesting than one might think of a small city in the center of the United States. For starters, Hutchinson has fondly been called the Salt City due to the nearly 1,000 acres of salt mines located 650 feet below the city. As if that information wasn’t cool enough, Hutchinson is also home to the Cosmosphere, which is a space museum, a STEM education center and the only Smithsonian affiliate museum in the entire state of Kansas.
You might recognize the name Smallville as the home of Clark Kent, aka Superman. While there is no official Smallville, Kansas, Hutchinson, and Smallville share quite a number of characteristics which spurned a grassroots campaign to have Hutchinson officially recognized as Smallville, Kansas. Each year in June, the city of Hutchinson becomes Smallville, although signs can be found throughout the year embracing this new identity. From this campaign, the Smallville Comic-Con emerged and is now in its’ 5th year.
The art community in Hutchinson is thriving and has grown over the past 10 years alongside the monthly Third Thursday. All year long, one can wander downtown on the third Thursday of each month to enjoy local music, art exhibits, local businesses and special events as each month often has a theme. It was at Third Thursday that I first discovered a lot of the incredible artists we have in our community. Without this monthly event, I wouldn’t have some of the friends I have now.
Hutchinson may be where I grew up but it took me leaving to go to college and then coming back to discover how great of a city it is. To someone who has lived either here or nearby for most of their life, it might not seem so amazing on the surface, but there is a lot to discover for those who take a closer look. There is an overlap between old and new which can be seen all over town. Some of the old are fun to explore and stumble upon although it doesn’t all bring a positive light to the city. On a nice day, it can be fun to drive around Hutchinson and find hidden gems such as an old abandoned sugar mill or an overgrown church in the middle of a residential neighborhood.
Some of the old has been repurposed and while some remains abandoned, I think it would be a shame to simply tear down some of the fascinating old buildings we have in Hutchinson.
No town is without some shortcomings, and Hutchinson is no exception, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. In Hutchinson, you will find some of the most passionate people. Without passion, Hutchinson would not have become Smallville, Third Thursday would not be in its’ 10th year, local musicians would not have anywhere to share their music, and Hutchinson would not have multiple museums filled to the brim with an abundance of knowledge. Hutchinson is full of people who are eager to share this lovely city with anyone and everyone.