Cuba, Kansas: A Place for Life

Jim Richardson made Cuba famous worldwide by photographs of every day life events like church potlucks in a rural town. He has created a new photo exhibit for the town’s 150th anniversary, which will be unveiled Saturday morning at the Cuba Community Hall. –Photo by Jim Richardson

New photo exhibit to document ‘tenacity’ of town at 150th celebration

It’s the town that refused to die.

That was photographer Jim Richardson’s goal some 40 years ago–to document the demise of a rural community in Kansas. He picked Cuba  -just down the road from his hometown of Belleville.

Richardson photographed the everyday life of the town through his tenures at the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Denver Post, and later for National Geographic magazine.

But the community refused to cooperate with Richardson’s plans.

July 20 and 21 the community will celebrate its 150th birthday during the Cuba Harvest Festival. One of this year’s features will be an exhibit of 60 of Richardson’s photographs set up in the Cuba Community Hall–a hub of the community that underwent a half-million dollar renovation a few years ago.

Richardson titled his exhibit Cuba, Kansas: A Place for Life. “Cuba has always been a place for life, always known for its vigor and great good times,” Richardson said.

“Now is a time to celebrate something else — its tenacity. After 150 years Cuba is still a place with a future long after many towns were relegated to the past. This show celebrates four decades in the life of a prairie town.

“I’m proud to have shared in the story of the community. ”

Richardson is a photographer for National Geographic Magazine. Richardson has photographed more than 30 stories for National Geographic.

Richardson’s work takes him around the world, from the tops of volcanic peaks to below the surface of swamps and wetlands. ABC News Nightline produced a story about the long process of assembling a National Geographic coverage by following Richardson in the field and at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

In addition to his color photography, a 22-page story about his 30 years of photographing life in Cuba was published in National Geographic and featured twice by CBS News Sunday Morning,

In addition to viewing Richardson’s new exhibit, guests who attend the Cuba Harvest festival can take part in a tractor drive on Friday afternoon to historic sites in the rural areas surrounding Cuba; join in games in the Cuba City Park; eat meals prepared by a legion of volunteers, and watch a parade with this year’s theme Proud Past, Promising Future.

A complete schedule of events is on Facebook at The Belleville Telescope or Cuba Harvest Festival.

July 20-21st – Cuba Harvest Festival


  • 1:30 PM Line up for the tractor drive
  • 2:00 PM Tractor Drive
  • SUPPER Betty’s Cafe (serving 5:30 PM-9:00 PM)
  • 7:00 PM 6 On 6 CO-ED Sand Volleyball Tourney (contact Mike Skocny 785-243-6273)
  • 7:00 PM Pedal Party, Pony Rides, Sidewalk Chalk
  • 8:00 PM Bohemian Horse Races
  • 9:00 PM Cake Walk, Merry Meadowlarks 4-H Club


  • 8:00 AM American Legion Flag Raising Ceremony
  • 7:30 AM Registration for 1 mile or 5K walk/run/bike race
  • 8:00 AM 1 mile or 5K walk/run/bike race
  • Registration for Horseshoes
  • 8:30 AM Horseshoe Tournament
  • 8:45 AM Announcement of Honored Couple
  • 9:00 AM “Cuba KS: A Place for Life”, showing by Jim Richardson, at the community hall
  • 9:30 AM Historic Cuba Main Street Walking Tour, meet at community hall
  • 9:30 AM Tractor Show check in (Call Wayne Pachta 747-8262)
  • 10:00 AM Tractor Show
  • 10:00 AM Frog Races and Face Painting
  • 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM Kids Inflatable Bouncy Houses, wet & dry
  • 11:00 AM Little Tuggers Tractor Pull
  • 11:00 AM Watermelon Feed, Sponsored by Astra Bank
  • 12:00 PM Golf Cart Street Rally
  • 1:00 PM Tractor Pull
  • 1:00 PM Kids Olympics
  • 1:00PM – 3:00PM Bingo – Legion Hall
  • 1:00PM – 4:00PM Polka Dance
  • 2:00 PM People Pull
  • 3:00 PM Tug Of War
  • 4:00 PM Bed Races
  • 5:00 PM Kolache Eating Contest
  • 5-7 PM Pulled Pork Supper, Cuba Community Hall
  • 6:00 PM Old Fashioned Baby Show, wear swimsuits
  • 7:00 PM Parade, Proud Past Promising Future
  • Adult Olympics following immediately after the parade
  • 9:00 PM Street Dance to DJ Bridwell
  • 10:00 PM Fireworks Display