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Does Hutchinson or any town or the world have a participation problem?

I sometimes think we do here in Hutch. 

I know everyone is busy, but EVERYONE is busy. 

I also know that not every event is exactly what you want it to be, really, no event is exactly what you want it to be. 

I also hang around and communicate with alot of marketing and communications people who blame lack of attendance/participation at any number of things on the event people not getting the word out. (I firmly believe this is an issue and have stated it before ) but this is a 2 way street. 

Lets look at one very specific example:

The Fox Theater here in Hutch. Mary Hemmings runs the show there and does an incredible job of getting the word out to as many people as possible. She uses every possible media outlet and does everything under the sun to let people know about her shows, yet attendance is not at capacity or anywhere near it very often, why is that? 

As always I have my opinions and have in fact kinda hinted at them, but would love some discussion. 



  1. A lot of folks in Hutch and around Hutch are Mennonite or Amish. They make wonderful neighbors. Generally speaking though, their recreational activities largely center around their church circles.

    Hutch is also largely a blue collar town. About a quarter of the people who live in Hutch have a Bachelor's degree. Which leaves 3/4 who don't.

    Factor in the age demographic. Roughly half the folks in Hutch are over the age of 45.

    Which is a fairly usual pattern for agricultural areas of the country.

    Folks are who they are. If you've been welding all day long, when you come home, you want a shower and to be off your feet for a few hours. Maybe not when your 20 but when you've been doing labor for 25 years or more, it wears on your body.

    Especially if you add in a commute back and forth to Wichita each day.

    I've done blue collar work and I've done office work. They are completely different kinds of tired.

    How you spend your recreational time often goes hand-in-hand with what kind of tired you are.

    JMO, of course.

  2. I am not a local resident nor have I visited Hutchinson ... yet! I would ask a few basic questions to begin the problem solving process realtive to the Fox Theater and Hutch in general.

    1. Have the demographics of "Hutch" changed significantly since the Fox experienced more prosperous times?

    2. Are other local businesses in the same niche (entertainment & recreation) experiencing the same downturn of the current economy.

    3. Are there more outlets for recreation today than there were during better times for the Fox? Meaning the dollars are still being spent, just spread around a little more.

    4. Is this just a symptom of our struggling national economy where folks are holding onto their pennies a little tighter? Plenty of evidence for that!

    5. Is the Fox clean, price competitive, fresh, customer friendly, and actively involved in improving Hutch? Building the fortunes of the Fox is directly tied to building the fortunes of Hutch!

    Once again, I am an outsider, but I would address these and similar questions then come up with a plan for the Fox and Hutch in general.

    Assuming the Fox is involved in the community and a member of the local Chamber or other civic organizations, I would offer the following. The Fox, being a movie theater, has a unique opportunity to liven up the community and get others involved in boosting the local economy.

    Cody, you are involved and obviously care more than the average person. I would suggest you approach the Fox about scheduling a few open forums/discussions for how to boost the local economy. Fox would donate the space (theater) and you would lead the discussion with assistance from other business leaders. Brainstorming that would be followed, hopefully, with a few action items for the community as a whole. This session would be followed by a free movie for all participants. Perhaps a new release or a more appropriate movie that fits the theme of the night. How about Gung Ho, a Michael Keaton film that details the struggles of a small town and their efforts to save/create jobs.

    I would look to get folks from all ages, ethnicities, genders, and religions for this discussion. Be inclusive as you (we) don't know who is sitting on the good ideas.

    Take a big picture view of how to improve Hutch's economy as a whole and the Fox can just come along for the ride.

    Regards, John Paulsen

  3. Jolene and John,

    let me first say thank you, Great comments! I agree with the statements across the board. I also as a asterisk want to say there is no doubt that there is not one big solution to this. Its a huge list of issues that have decreased participation in community.

    In all honesty its not a huge problem, just a problem that i see as fixable.

    In response to all of your points, they are all valid. they are all legitimate reasons for less participation in things these days.

    John, the Fox is clean, involved and progressive. It's incredible in fact. But great questions to ask.

    The problem with the community discussion idea in my mind is the complete lack of participation it will receive which is why i am trying to bring that exact same discussion online to catch people sitting at there desk on the bosses time who are willing to discuss and bounce ideas.

    i don't think Hutch has any more of a problem then any other similar sized town, I just wanted to launch a little awareness.

    We are gonna continue pushing for more Community in general both here and on

    Not a "Oh No were dying" type scenario, just something we could improve.

    Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

  4. Cody,

    For the Fox, they might consider reaching out to a few churches, asking if they have any interest in the congregation voting on a movie and then having it be a church event or a youth church event.

    It's late in the year for any school events but that could be a possibility to consider for next year.

    Same thing with civic organizations which might have a fairly large and active membership.

    When I lived in Hutch, I was the Circle K advisor at the JuCo. Circle K is the College level version of Kiwanis. We did a number of events.

    Something that the boy scouts have done here in recent years is sell a page of coupons to raise money.

    Since the prices at the Fox are already low, maybe a better solution is the tried and true BOGOF (buy one get one free) coupon.

  5. I just have to "jump in" here. I totally agree with Cody but I see it as so many opportunities in our situation. I love the Fox Theater and feel fortunate that Hutchinson has it, I love the Salt Mines and the mystery presentations that they put on, I love the Cosmosphere and the new ideas they have come up for the community. I was at our local Art Association not long ago and thought - "I should be involved in this -it's amazing" - just drive by Gowens and not have the feeling that you cannot wait for the great track meet to get going or JuCo football to be in full force. I was was "Third Thursday" last night and loved the large crowd and vowed I won't miss another one! AFter that I ran to our tremendous Hutchinson Library for a free class that I'm enjoying so much on Thursday nights and as I walked through the library I thought "gosh there are so many things you can do here at the library" - and that's me - an old grandma (although 4 grandchildren keep me hopping with a huge amount of events that they are in involved in!) - I hate picking and choosing and I'm also still working 45-50 hours a week! I love this community, I love the different options and opportunities and I wish I could attend them all - I'm only one person and with time and funding - it's just not possible to be everywhere - could that be some of the problem? I think the Fox does a fantastic job - in fact I tore out their summer line up and it's pasted on my kitchen wall so I can take advantage of it!!


I love the discussion in the comments.. so... GO FOR IT!

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