Despite its small population, Kings County has produced many athletes that have excelled at all levels of sport, both amateur and professional. The list includes legendary pole vaulter Dutch Warmerdam, Junior Olympics water polo champion Dagmar Gudmundsson, NFL fullback Lorenzo Neal, NBA forward Pete Verhoeven and MLB pitchers Bill Landis, Tim Scott and Ryan Bowen, to name a few.
These and other outstanding athletes with local roots will be the focus of a new exhibition that opens June 9 and runs through Sept. 18 at the Carnegie Museum of Kings County.
“The goal of the exhibition is to spotlight some of the amazing athletes and teams that have excelled in their sports in order to give our communities the opportunity to learn and, in many cases, reminisce about their friends’ and neighbors’ athletic accomplishments,” said Jack Schwartz, president of the Carnegie Museum of Kings County board.
Schwartz said the exhibition will showcase storied team rivalries and exemplary individual performances in several sports. All six of the county’s high schools and individual athletes from around the country who began their sports careers in Kings County have contributed memorabilia and stories, making for what Schwartz calls “a true community event.” Displays will feature photos, trophies and game-used artifacts such as uniforms and equipment.
“This exhibition is truly a county-wide effort, with contributors from Avenal, Corcoran, Lemoore and Hanford,” he said. “We are telling some of the stories of our friends and neighbors from before the 1930s to the 2020s.”
The museum’s mission is to bring Kings County’s history to life through preservation and education. This exhibition helps achieve this mission by providing a window into our past and it may also inspire our youth to set and meet sports-oriented goals that they may not have thought about as a future path to lifetime success.
The Carnegie Museum of Kings County is located at 109 E. Eighth St. in Hanford. The exhibition celebrating area athletes will be open to the public Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. through Sept. 18. The suggested admission donation is $10 for adults and $5 for children.