This is the Story… of Kansas City…

Trails End XXVIII (Kansas City Pioneers Run)

by Jim Drew
Originally published in the Seattle Men in Leather newsletter (May 2003)
Trails End XXVIII and the Bears   Trails End XXVIII Attendees
Stan, Jim, Keith, and Utilikilt Bear and Rubber Bear
Run Attendees from the Kansas City Pioneers, Corn Haulers, and Trident International: Detroit
Photo credits unrecorded.  Probably Janet, the Pioneers photographer.

On April 11, I hopped on a plane bound for Kansas City (via St. Louis), in order to take part in the Kansas City Pioneers’ annual leather run, Trails End (April 11-13).  This was Trails End XXVIII: The Re-Run.  (28 years, can you imagine!)  Of course, two Seattle Men in Leather members (Stan and Keith) recently moved to Kansas City, so this was an excuse to visit them, but I also know a few others from the Pioneers, and I used this as a chance to advertise SML’s upcoming run, Equinox IV.

Held at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center in Kansas City (the one in Missouri, the larger city by that name), the run featured three days of cocktail parties, games, entertainment, BDSM instruction, partying, and leather bonding (and maybe some leather bondage, too).  There were perhaps 150 leathermen and leatherwomen present, representing 15 or more clubs, with attendees from clubs on all four sides of the country (Seattle, Detroit, Washington DC, and New Orleans) as well as all over (Kansas City, Chicago, Des Moines, Nashville, Omaha, St. Louis, Minneapolis, New Orleans,…).  I brought back the Distance Award for the run on behalf of SML, having traveled more than 1500 miles to get there; you can see it in the SML trophy case in the Boiler Room at the Cuff.

Many of the clubs had a large portion of their active membership present (and there were awards for such attendance and for the percentage of attending members taking part in the various contests at the run).  Seattle Men in Leather is somewhat unusual among leather clubs in our size.  Most other clubs have a small core of formal members – anywhere from a handful to a couple dozen – with a larger group of “Associate” members.  The core members are expected to be local to the area and very active with the club, while associates may be less active or may not even live in the local area.  The core members are usually the ones who wear “club colors,” large back patches on their leather vests and special uniforms at formal functions.

The theme of the run was “The Re-Run,” so many of the activities and awards were done around television sitcoms (reruns).  There were no less than thirteen cocktail parties, hosted by various clubs, groups of titleholders, and so forth, with the hosts dressing up for the theme.  The Conductors from Nashville got to stick to uniforms by tackling The Love Boat, but the award went to the Gilligan’s Island theme done by the Corn Haulers out of Des Moines: with sailor uniforms, Ginger drag, and bare-chested natives in grass skirts (often with nothing under them), how could you go wrong?

Opening ceremonies were at the DB Complex (aka the Dixie Belle), the local leather bar.  The Dixie Belle, of course, is noted for having a semi truck coming out the wall in their upstairs bar.  The bar has two levels, with a patio on the upstairs level, and five bars; they will soon have a restaurant on the third floor.  (It feels a bit like the Cuff.)  They also have two bootblack stations which were busy all night on Friday and Saturday.

Saturday afternoon saw some competition games, one of which included a tub of cucumbers in J-Lube, with the goal being to put as many condoms on the cukes as you could in a certain amount of time.  A “Walking Enduro” (kind of scavenger hunt/sightseeing puzzle) also went on, as did two workshops put on by Kansas City Leather University, a local parallel to SML’s Tribal Instinct forum.  Me, I hung out with a half-dozen guys from other clubs and enjoyed the high 70s temperatures out by the hotel pool.  (Okay, and some sex, too.  But not by the pool.)

Saturday afternoon also saw the run show.  The Pioneers had made arrangements for a local theatre troupe to do the show this year, but they pulled out a few days before the run.  The Pioneers managed to put together a fun show of skits and musical numbers in a very short time.  (But the Visqueens have no worries about leather camp drag competition from that sector!)  Stan and Keith forbade me from taking pictures of their part in the Pioneers Pledge Class piece which closed out the show, so I’ll just have to describe it: keeping in the run theme, the six pledges dress in rainbow colors and lip synched to a Brady Bunch song.  Stan and Keith both had hair of gold (like their mother…).

Saturday evening was the formal banquet, seeing most of the members of various clubs in their dress uniforms.  (If SML had one, it would include a Utilikilt, right?)  This also featured the Parade of Colors, with a member of each club displaying the club’s colors to the attendees.  (A vest backpatch, a banner, etc. An SML t-shirt draped over the arm served us well.)  They also announced the winners of the charity auctions which had begun the previous night, reopening a couple of the Pledge Class teddy bears to new bids, with a bidding war on the Rubber Bear going from $50 to $120.  (The Rubber Bear was Keith’s creation, with a rubber outfit done by Naughty Nancy out of Toronto.  It should surprise no one that Stan’s bear sported a Utilikilt and a Utilikilts t-shirt.  Nor should it surprise anyone that I’m the one who bought the Rubber Bear.)

The Rubber Bear also turned into the run scandal, however.  There is a tradition at these events of “stealing” club insignia and other important items.  The Pioneers Pledges each year have a decorated bear that they have to tote around at events, trading off from one Pledge to the next, with dire consequences should a pledge set the bear down and have it get “stolen”.  Well, as I was turned away getting a picture taken, someone lifted the Rubber Bear.  (I hadn’t even paid for it at that point!)  Several people were stunned that someone had taken the bear, since it was neither the pledges’ bear nor a club insignia.  They had left my camera, though, so I didn’t think it was a real theft.  Sure enough, that evening I got a note handed to me which demanded blackmail payment to get the bear back: a blowjob!  A second note clarified that I had to give the blowjob.  (Damn.)

The next morning at the awards brunch, the bear mysteriously reappeared.  The culprit turned out to not be who I was suspecting (the second note was on a matchbook from the home bar of one of the attending clubs, but that turned out to be a false lead).  Propriety forbids me to name the culprit.  (Well, that and that I still owe the blackmail payment.)

Although I came home very exhausted from the weekend, it was a really fun time.  The Pioneers (and company) put on a really great party, and I’ll definitely think about attending again next year.  (Or maybe the Gateway run in St. Louis at Halloween?  How about the Conductors run in Nashville next March?  Hmm.)

On the Equinox front, I handed out bookmark flyers advertising the run all weekend, and had several on each table at the brunch.  Several guys indicated interest in the run, so we’ll hopefully have a scattering of leathermen in from around the country come September.

Read more about Trails End XXVIII and see photos on the Pioneers’ website at


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