Lottery promotion irks Kansas towns

Monday, August 1, 2005

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Residents in two Kansas communities are angry over a radio spot for the Kansas Lottery that suggests their towns are boring.

The Kansas Lottery is partnering with several Kansas radio stations to promote its Great Escape Hybrid Doubler tickets.

But WIBW is changing its ad promoting the game after it angered tourism officials in Garden City and Cawker City. Written by staff at the Topeka radio station and approved by the Kansas Lottery, the ad promised a lucky winner two tickets to a Kansas City Royals game and free admission to Worlds of Fun, both in Missouri.

"94.5 Country and the Kansas Lottery considered giving away an intimate rendezvous to Cawker City," the ad said, "but a giant ball of twine just isn't too romantic. So, we decided on a great escape to Kansas City."

It continues: "We also toyed with the idea of a getaway to Garden City, but nobody could actually say that with a straight face," the ad says.

Callie Remschner, director of conventions and tourism in western Kansas' Finney County, isn't laughing. Nor is Linda Clover, caretaker of the ball of twine in Cawker City in north-central Kansas.

"I'm not pleased about it," said Remschner. "We work hard at getting rid of the stigma about western Kansas."

Clover said Cawker City has plenty to offer romance seekers, including a motel across the street from the city's 8,000-pound ball of twine that has hosted newlyweds.

"It's very nice," Clover said. "You'd be surprised."

And she criticized the Kansas Lottery for endorsing a radio spot that promoted Missouri tourism at the expense of Kansas communities.

Larry Riggins, general manager of the WIBW station, said the ad's intent wasn't to offend people. "Sometimes the hand gets ahead of the brain," he said.

Caleb Asher, spokesman for the Kansas Department of Commerce, said citizens should be proud of the state's diverse rural destinations.

"We're a state full of unique attractions, and it is as big as you think," he said.

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