September 7th is Lenexa’s 36th annual Spinach Festival!! LHS will have our usual booth set up selling various foods including our World’s Largest Spinach Salad, Wimpy Burgers, and more. We will also have our Spinach Cookbooks for sale. We hope to see you there — or you can help us by volunteering a couple hours of your time. We could use people to help us set up/break down the booth, as well as hand out food.
So why do we have the Spinach Festival? In the 1930’s a produce buyer was looking for spinach to buy due in part to increased demand from the popularity of the comic and cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man. While visiting Kansas City in his search, he stopped in Lenexa. He liked the spinach in Lenexa because there was less sand in the soil, making the leaves of the spinach less gritty. He bought every bushel he could and for the next few years Lenexa sold more spinach than anywhere else, giving it the claim of being the Spinach Capital of the World! – if only for a few years.
Let’s not forget the contribution of trains in this as well. The Belgian truck farmers would take their spinach, which was originally just a bumper crop, in their trucks to the train depot and loaded it onto the train.
Popeye even acknowledged Lenexa’s dominance in spinach with a comic panel that you can see in the Legler Barn showing Popeye in a truck claiming that he is on his way to Lenexa. If you like Popeye, come by our booth during the Spinach Festival to see Popeye and Olive Oyl who will be talking with festival-goers and taking photographs. Also, visit the Legler Barn and see the Spinach Festival and Popeye the Sailor Man display. Hank Bendorf, who used to loan his Popeye collection to us in the past, has donated his collection of almost 200 Popeye items and we will be adding some items to the display this month!