Behold:the Wonders of Kansas!

Our great state beseeches your help in creating its future antiquity

Egypt may have its hoity-toity triangular coffins, but Gove County has the Chalk Pyramids. Babylon might think it's all that and a bag of ziggurats because it had a few ferns on the roof, but the town of Lucas has the Garden of Eden. Rhodes once had a tall dude spread eagle over their harbor, but he fell down-and a Colossus of Twine continues to keep vigil over Cawker City. It's in honor of these enduring marvels that the Kansas Sampler Foundation is launching an open submission contest to name this state's top wonders. In a further effort to one-up the ancient Mediterranean world, there shall not be a mere seven, but Eight Wonders of Kansas! Suck on THAT, Herodotus! Suggest which Kansas landmark you think should be a monument to outlive our crumbling society at 8wonders@kansassampler.org and stick it to those elitist historians. Marci Penner, director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, spoke with lawrence.com about the process and whether or not Wichita-born Kirstie Alley should be considered in the category of "people" or "geography."

lawrence.com: What's the Kansas Sampler Foundation?

Marci Penner: It was founded in 1993. Its mission statement is to preserve, sustain and grow rural culture. We're based out of Inman, Kansas. We basically do two things: 1. Educate Kansans about Kansas, and 2. Network and support rural communities. Our definition of rural culture is relevant to this conversation, so I'll just say that we define rural culture as a combination of eight elements: architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history and people.

Nominate your preferred Wonder of Kansas

Email 8wonders@kansassampler.org before May 6. Nominations should include the attraction name, location, photo, and reason why it's worthy of being dubbed a Wonder. Submissions must include the nominator's name, address and/or e-mail address.

Pictures and explanations of the top 24 nominated sites will appear at www.kansassampler.org and public voting will be mid-May thru the end of the year. On Kansas Day, January 29, 2008, Governor Sebelius will proclaim the 8 Wonders of Kansas!

Hence the "Eight Wonders of Kansas." How did this endeavor come about?

In 2000, there was a group that decided to do a new list of the Seven Wonders of the World and that started to spark interest all over the world. Other countries and other states began to do their own Seven Wonders lists:we decided to do the Eight Wonders just to extend our education campaign. Eventually we'll choose the top 24 submissions and then vote on the top Eight:we're getting quite a few through e-mail. One purpose of this is to get Kansans thinking about what their state has.

Have you received any bizarre suggestions thus far?

A funny one we got today was that Kansas has no wonders. I expect a few of those.

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Submitted photo

The world's largest ball of twine, located in Cawker City, Kansas.

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Submitted photo

The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas.

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Submitted photo

Monument Rock, also known as Chalk Pyramids, in Gove County, Kansas.

Do you anticipate getting more and more arcane submissions, like "Survivor" host and Kansas native Jeff Probst's childhood home or anything?

We will, and that will be the fun of it. We got this one nomination for a guy, "Hank Raleigh from Liberal, Kansas." Besides the fact that Hank, early 90s, was deemed the oldest tennis player in Liberal, he has spent his retirement with a camera constantly in hand:Hank would be a great Wonder." It has to be something that people can go see-you can't go visit Hank every day.

Governor Sebelius will be announcing the winners after they're voted on. Could she be submitted as one of the "Eight Wonders of Kansas"?

She definitely could be:she's more accessible to people than Hank in Liberal, but we'd like the eligible wonders to be around for a while. If you choose Sebelius and then you have a new governor, it makes her less eligible-we want something that can withstand the test of time.

Considering that people die, I guess they wouldn't withstand the test of time.

You're right, I'm not sure a living person would necessarily be on the Wonders list, but we're open to it. We're open to everything! If you're open, you can generate more fun out of it. It's designed to be fun, to teach, to stimulate discussion. Even a little controversy is certainly OK. Just get people talking-I don't care how.

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