Rebecca Scheller • Reflector-Chronicle

This is a picture of a new boot on its way to be decorated

Abilene Forward is the communities’ organized group of people that work on beautifying and promoting all businesses to bring revenue downtown. As a recent addition to bring tourism to local businesses, the idea of colorful boots placed at different locations downtown was raised.

The very first one has finally arrived in Abilene.

“This first boot will be painted by Karen Cooper and then sent to Holm Automotive for a protective clear coat,” said Allison Blake, co-facilitator of Abilene Forward. “It will either be placed in front of the Visitor’s Center or the city building, the exact location has not yet been confirmed.”

The hope of Abilene Forward is that more businesses will buy boots and arrange to have them decorated and placed in front of their stores. However, to begin the group aspires to encourage about 10 businesses to purchase boots at the same time.

When there is a collection this will become a unique Abilene scavenger hunt or photo opportunity and will hopefully bring more customers into businesses and keep them coming back.

“Abilene Forward will be working with the city to make sure placement of the boots are in compliance with ADA (American Disabilities Act) and city code,” said Blake.

The boot cost $400 according to Elizabeth Weese, co-facilitator of Abilene Forward, and depending on the businesses choice of artist, the boot can be under $1,000 for total value which may be an investment worth making to be a part of the downtown boot search.

More ideas are discussed to increase tourism downtown at every meeting, and anyone in the community willing to help is encouraged to attend meetings. Weese, director of the Community Foundation of Dickinson County, and Allison Blake, director of the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce, run the Abilene Forward Facebook page and host meetings typically once a month.

On the agenda of the next meeting held by Abilene Forward will be discussion about joining the Kansas PRIDE Program, a partnership with K-State Research and Extension. This program is committed to help communities in Kansas better places to work and reside. In the next meeting, members of PRIDE will talk about the next steps to take in assisting those volunteering with Abilene Forward.

For more information, contact Abilene Forward through the Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce office at 263-1770 or the Community Foundation of Dickinson County office at 263-1863.

Facebook: Abilene Forward. Email:

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