Monday, July 5, 2010

Hometown 4th of July Celebration

I have been enjoying the Sutherland 4th of July celebration since we used to drive down from our home in the heart of the Nebraska Sandhills for all of the festivities when I was growing up.

The day always starts bright and early with the kids races. Today I'm seeing the grandchildren of the people I grew up with excitedly running the races. Each child gets a quarter for entering the race (when I was a kid, it was a dime!), then first, second and third get additional prize money. It's all good though, as most of the change is spent in the local fireworks shops. These races are sponsored by the Sutherland Chamber of Commerce.
After the kids races, it's time for the frog races. These are sponsored by Seifer Farms (of free-range chicken fame). This is the first year we haven't actually had at least one frog in the races - they were all toads. You can see, the frogs' owners, managers and trainers are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the races.
We had exactly 100 toads entered into the races this year. Each child receives fifty cents for the toad that they enter. There were ten heats of ten toads apiece, with the winner advancing to the finals. The frogs are placed in the middle of the ring, and the first to make it outside the ring is the winner. The race pays $25 for first, $15 for second and $10 for third. Lots of fun for lots of folks for a $100 investment by Seifer Farms.
As with any community gathering, there were lots of opportunities for food. Here, Maline's Super Foods sponsored $1 hamburgers on the 3rd of July. Even standing in line isn't that bad, as it gives everyone time to greet old friends and catch up on all the local happenings.
What would a summer celebration be without baseball? Lots of families gathered in the outfield to watch their little ones play.
On the 4th is the community barbecue, with a free will donation being collected for a plate of smoked brisket, salad, beans, drink and watermelon. As you can see, it is a very popular event.
As with anything worthwhile done for the community, it takes an army of volunteers behind the scenes to make it all happen. Here Scotty (famous local barbecuer) has a little help in slicing all of the brisket that he has been smoking for days. Note the homemade smoker that has enough capacity to prepare meat for an entire community.
In the serving line, volunteers from numerous local businesses get ready to prepare plates of food for their friends and neighbors.
It's easy to see that we all enjoyed it, too! The Sutherland celebration and rodeo attracts some royalty too. Here Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska Shelby Peters shares a meal with her mom and almost the entire Sutherland community.
Tha annual parade is a cornerstone of Sutherland's celebration - as is the case with most small town festivities. Here, four generations of the Eckhoff family open the parade by leading off with Old Glory.
No parade is complete without clowns, and this one was a crowd pleaser.
Oh yes, and the Nebraska Outback family even got into the act, representing the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center along with the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Do you recognize me?
The annual 4th of July celebration is a favorite time for school classes to hold reunions, as it gives everyone an excuse to come home for the fun. Here 25 of the 26 surviving members of the Sutherland High School class of 1960 join in the parade for their 5oth class reunion.
And now it's on to the rodeo! Sutherland's rodeo starts out with the Mutton Bustin', where little cowboys and cowgirls get a taste of what the real cowboys experience by riding sheep. You can see that the sheep generally come out ahead in the competition.
Sometimes the cowboys don't fare any better.
Thank goodness there are always experienced and talented pick up men in the arena to help the cowboys dismount (when the stock hasn't already done so).
To provide some comic relief during rodeo downtime, local funny man Steve "Snorkel" From entertains the crowd.
And a very large crowd it was. The beautiful day saw a near capacity crowd enjoying the rodeo.
Snork is a man of many talents when it comes to his clown act. He even manages to get up close and personal with the crowd. And right here is a perfect time to give him a little plug for his book "The Reincarnation of Bennett McKinney." Now there are a lot of self-published novels out there, and many of them aren't very good. Snorkels' book is an exception to this observation. It is extremely well-written an insightful. You can probably find it on his website, if you can't get it through Amazon or other outlets. I may just have to get my copy out and re-read it and post a review.
There you have it - the highlights of the annual Sutherland 4th of July celebration and rodeo. Don't you wish you would have taken the time and effort to come home for it?
Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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