Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Definition of Hometown Diner - Corleigh's Place, North Platte

You can probably tell by the kinds of places I review that I love hometown, unique, local eateries. Sometimes I don't take advantage of what's in my own back yard - I think I may be the only person in North Platte that didn’t know about Corleigh’s Place downtown on the bricks at 517 N. Dewey. The eating establishment has been there as long as I can remember. Years ago, it was known as the "Eat-A-Bite Cafe" (and I think it was buffet style, but I'm not sure. Then it became the "Main Street Cafe", but it has been Corleigh's Place for two years and I've never been there!

When you think of a hometown diner, Corleigh’s Place is exactly what people have in mind. Cozy, clean, welcoming diner feel; friendly staff; home prepared foods; and extremely reasonable prices will welcome you.

Corleigh’s Place is open Monday through Saturday 7am to 2:30pm and Sunday 8am to 2:30pm. They serve breakfast all day with unique offerings like peanut butter chocolate chip pancakes and Muh Nick (PB & J sandwich, dipped in pancake batter and grilled).

Lunch is served daily 10:30am to 2:30pm and includes the standard sandwich offerings like B.L.T.’s and club sandwiches as well as delicious hand pattied burgers as well as a daily lunch special. Be sure to save room for dessert – homemade pies or cinnamon rolls!

Corleigh’s Place also offers to-go orders for an additional .50 per order. To place an order call 308-534-0922. Bring cash or your checkbook. Corleigh’s Place doesn’t accept debit or credit cards. If there isn't any parking available on the Bricks on Dewey Street, no worries. There is plenty of parking in the rear.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Stories - Memories of B.C. Huffman Part 1

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

Taken from “Stuckey and Huffman Cousins” By Opal Streiff

The Baldy Valley land consists of Ira S. and Willie Huffman’s Tree Claims. Edmund’s Tree Claim was west up the valley and when the new survey showed that Edmund’s lay south into the hills out of the valley, he sold it to Myers.

After Cap Haskell went bankrupt, the court sold his V L C land at auction. Edmund and Bill Reuter wanted some of the land that laid next to them. Ed Myers came along and told them he would go buy it as there was no reason for them to bid against each other. After he got it bought, he decided he needed it all and the others got left out. Reuter was a “Locater”, charging for locating available or suitable land for homesteaders.


Hand Car Ride

One time B.C. Huffman, Tom Quinn and Tom Woods had trailed cattle to Hecla to be shipped out. That night, the ticket agent loaned them the hand car to go to Mullen. He told them what time the trains would be going, none on the way home. Well, Tom Woods visited the saloon too long and was in no shape to help pump the car back to Hecla. It was up hill, too.

Bull Calves

B.C. bought five bull calves from Harry Miller for 65 dollars. He steered them, lost one, later another one came up missing. He sold the remaining three when they were three years old for $312.00. He said a rancher used to be able to make money on his livestock if patient, but not always so now.

The Magic Phonograph

Ernest Wisner of Omega Post Office in McPherson County was the first to have a phonograph and ear phones. Ernest would go through to Hyannis, staying the first night at Huffmans and would let them listen. Later, he got horns so everyone could hear.

Mind Your Manners

The Huffman family was invited to Sunday dinner at the home of their neighbors, the Brookings family, that lived in Three Mile Valley. Emma told her children to watch their manners as the Brooking children had such good manners, and to act like they did. Well, after dinner the grown-ups were visiting around the table and the oldest Brookings boy asked for something in the middle of the table. No one heard him or passed it, so he stood up on his chair, put one knee on the table and reached for what he wanted. The Huffman kids always “guyed” their mother about acting like the neighbor kids.

Huppmobile Garage in Sutherland

The fall of 1913 Ira E. and B.C. leased a building in Sutherland with plans to set up a garage and Huppmobile Agency. Only a few days passed till the livery stable burned down. The lot was owned by Lee Case, so they traded some horses and colts to him for two lots (the empty Bowling Alley in 1986). They contracted with Building and Loan to build a new garage. Harry Miller lived south of the Southeast Mill, a Kinkaider and wanted to leave, so B.C. and Ira E. traded him the contract for his section of land.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Historic Steele City, Nebraska

I had the good fortune recently of making an epic road trip from Sutherland to Manhattan, Kansas. Hopefully I will get quite a few blog posts out of that journey. Here is my first - about the wonderful Steele City. There are numerous tiny hamlets along the route I took, which was comprised of Highways 23, 6/34, 136, 8, 14 and 89 (not necessarily in that order!). Many I had never heard of before, including Steele City.

The photos below are mine (except for the scan of the historic plat map). The descriptions are taken from the National Historic Register application for the Steele City Historic District that was written in October of 1970. Thankfully, many of the structures have actually improved rather than deteriorated since that writing. The numbers correspond to the plat map.

Steele City is situated on a picturesque site in the heavily wooded valley of the Little Blue River which runs diagonally through Jefferson County.

Steele City was platted in 1873, six years after Nebraska became a state, by Abner Baker and Robert Crinklow. The town was named in honor of D.M. Steele, President at the time, of the St. Joe and Western Railway. This railroad line ran through the town and stimulated the town’s gradual growth into one of the best business centers and largest shipping stations along the ST. Joe and Western lines. In 1879 Steele City was organized as a village under Nebraska Statute provisions.

The train still runs through Steele City, though now it is Union Pacific
During the late 1880’s and early 1890’s, the town continued to grow and contained several stores, a flour mill, grain warehouses and other business establishments.

In more recent years, due to declining railroad activity, the towns expansion and population has leveled off, but the town still functions as a rural center of business interests and organizations. (This might have changed in the more than 40 years since 1970 - the town is definitely on the "quiet" side.)

During the past year efforts have been made by the local community and interested individuals to restore the buildings within the Steele City Historic District, and if these efforts continue, Steele City could well develop into one of the best, typical restored frontier cities in the Midwest.

Livery Stable (1) – built in 1902, its design is very clean and utilitarian. It is constructed of native rough quarried sandstone and mortar, with a low hip roof.

The first floor has a large brick arched doorway which provides a large enough opening to allow a carriage or wagon to pass through. There is also another archway on the southeast side of the building. These archways are provided with large sliding wood doors.

The second floor appears to have been used as living quarters for the owner. There is a doorway above the archway on the front façade which probably opened onto a deck which served as a protective porch for the main first floor entrance. The southeast portion of the second floor was originally used as a hay log and another large archway, with a sliding door, accommodates it. The building’s windows are cleanly cut in the walls. Their framings and lintels are constructed of wood, but a few are arched with brick.

Recently a new shingle roof replaced a temporary metal roof. Although many of the windows mullions and panes have been broken, the building is in a good state of repair. The interior still reflects the original function and the basic character of the building has not been altered over the years.

Blacksmith Shop (2) – constructed in 1900 by J.W. Peters, whose name is inscribed on a superficial plaque, along with the date of construction, above the main entrance.

This building is also constructed of sandstone, rough cut and mortared. Its character is similar to the Livery Stable, but its construction preceded that of the Livery Stable by two years. It has one and one half stories, with the attic story furnishing quarters for the owner, as in the Livery Stable.

The structure has a gabled roof with two dormers directly opposite each other. The archways and the windows are spanned in brick and framed in wood. There are two large archways along the building’s lengthways axis which provides a circulation path through the building with offshoot stalls for the repair work. These main entrance archways are provided with sliding doors.

The roof has recently been reshingled but minor carpentry work is still needed, mainly the replacement of most windows. Minor interior deterioration is the only physical change since its original construction. The building’s original integrity remains unaltered.

Bank Building (3) – The present structure was built between the years 1880 and 1890. The building was constructed by Abner Baker to take the place of a store swept away when the Little Blue River flooded in 1869. The building was first used as a general store but between the years 1889 and 1915 three different banking companies occupied the building. At one time the banker and his family lived in back which added another function the building had to provide.

The bank was recently purchased by the Jefferson County Historical Society who have refurbished it completely. The structure has been restored to its early 1900’s appearance when the late banker H. Clapp owned the structure. (I can attest to this description - when you peek through the windows, it's as if the bank has just closed up for the day.)

Debris was cleaned from the main floor and wallpaper was scraped off the walls. Through contributions and local initiative the bank has succeeded in achieving an authentic restoration of its peak commercial period. The business and residence sections have been completely refurbished and are now open to public tours.

The building material of this period tended toward longer lasting materials such as stone and brick of which this building is constructed. The lower story is of rough cut sandstone and mortar construction and the upper story, which opens onto the street level, is of brick and mortar construction.

Baptist Church (4) – On October 20, 1882, Robert Crinklow transferred a plot of ground to the Trustees of the First Baptist Church in Steele City, and that same year a church was erected.

In 1921, as many of the older members passed away and it became more difficult to maintain a pastor, the Deed and assets of the church were transferred to the Nebraska Baptist State Convention who in turn sold the building to the Lincoln Lodge, Knights of Pythias 146, of Steele City. The Knights of Pythias still occupy and maintain the building.

The church is Romanesque in character with a large round cathedral window on the front façade, reminiscent of Gothic influences. Arthur Bower, a stone cutter, is accredited with the building of this pretentious structure. The church is constructed of fine grade limestone which the members hauled from a quarry near Hanover, Kansas. Mr. Bower shaped the rough quarried limestone into oblong blocks, all of the same size. Each block had a border of smooth rock, with the natural rough surface forming the inner part of the block. This rough stone construction is typical of the Richardsonian Romanesque Style. The interior integrity has been preserved by use of hard wood floors and partitions.

The original character of the church has endured through the years and represents a rugged well preserved building. It is one of the few remaining disbanded church buildings in Jefferson County today.

The round stained glass window on the front has in recent years been bricked up (note it has been restored in the above photo)and there are minor cracks from foundation settling. Apart from this the church is a true representation of the original structure.

Mercantile Store Building (7)- built circa 1900. The structure, in materials used and construction method is a typical product of home and commercial building during this period. (Note - there is a for sale sign on this structure - Woods Bros. Realty, 402-587-0342)

Though it isn't included in the National Register Historic District, I include a photo of the Salty Dog Saloon. When I posted the photos of Steele City in the "Nebraska Through The Lens" Facebook group, several folks commented that it is a first-class watering hole. Hopefully I'll make my way back through and stop for a beer.

Folks also commented that Steele City hosts an annual Flea Market, the third weekend in September. The website hasn't been updated since 2012, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the event.
This is the plat map that accompanied the National Register application.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday Stories - How a Sod House was Built

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

By Laura Avery

This is the way I remember how to build a sod house:

The first thing you do is hunt for a hollow or somewhere that the grass is thick and has a lot of roots. Then you plow the sod with a regular sod plow with bars on the back side. Plow it from three to four inches thick and one foot wide. After it is turned over cut in strips twenty-four inches long. Lay them on a wagon with just boards lain over it. Then haul them to where you are building. Start laying them for the size house you want. Lay them grass side down, mis-matching each seam as they do for brick or cement block houses.
Put the twenty-four inches cross-wise so you have thick walls.
For the windows put the frames in, drill holes in them, then drive wooden pegs into the wood and on into the sod. When you get the walls as high as you want them, lay 2x6 or 2x8 planks around in the center of the sod. Then put the 2x4’s up for the roof. Put foot wide boards on to the 2x4’s and nail them. Next, put felt tar paper over the boards, then lay on sod tightly fit together, grass side up.
Years ago, you plastered the walls with clay; in later years they were plastered up with cement, inside and out. That was a good thing as it kept mice, rats and snakes from coming through the holes. These houses were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They had nice big wide windows. The children would sit in the windows. They were fine for house plants.
I remember the sod house my parents lived in. They started plants for garden in small wooden boxes. Some of them were watermelons, musk melons, tomatoes and cabbage. We would have great big watermelon. We got more rain in those days and didn’t have to water them. Walter Avery’s folks laid an extra wall up to about three feet nigh around the main wall and planted different kinds of cactus on it. It was real pretty. They also had rose moss on it.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Stories - If Sod Houses Could Talk

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

By Donald, Maxine and Dorothy Tupper

Oscar and May Tupper, Darlene and Donald moved to the Sandhills in the spring of 1920. The farm was located in eastern McPherson County, and was known as the “Old Canning Place”. The home in which they lived was a sod house. The home was very comfortable for the family of six, after two more children, Maxine and Dorothy, were born in this sod house.

About 1926 several frame rooms were added to the house and the sod walls were covered with cement to preserve them. A well was dug by Alva Main on a nearby hill providing a pressure water system for the farm. Bud Smith engineered digging the cistern, laying the pipes and installing the bathroom fixtures. After more than a half a century this well is still in use. The original sod barn was replaced by a large frame barn.

Oscar was killed in a farm accident in 1927. May continued living in the “soddy” with the four children. In 1932 she married George Dickson and this continued to be their home until May passed away in 1976 and George in 1977.

The original house, which was built in 1902, was constructed of virgin sod, grass that had never felt the plow. The usual procedure was to use a sixteen inch breaking plow to turn over strips of sod about four inches deep, twelve to sixteen inches wide and about three feet long. The thick buffalo grass had long tough roots which held it together.

The sod slices were used like bricks – laid over-lapping one another, grass side down, making the wall self-supporting. The grass was cut uniformly to keep it even and fill the cracks. These “bricks” were laid up around a wooden door frame. After the walls were about two feet high the desired window frames were added. Boards were laid across the bottoms and tops of the windows. This sod house had a frame and shingled roof, although many had a sod roof. The inside walls were plastered, then either painted or papered. The wide windows and door frames are trademarks of a sod house. The deep windows made an excellent place for houseplants. With the coming of electricity to McPherson County the sod house had all the modern conveniences of any home. The sod house had its advantages of being warm in winter and cool in the summer.

Darlene Tupper Waits passed away in 1967. Maxine Tupper Mote lives at Orchard, Nebraska.

These are some of the memories of this sod house which still stands and is on the ranch owned by the son, Donald Tupper, of North Platte, Nebraska.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Terry's Steakhouse (Mencl's Tavern), Virginia, Nebraska

Who knew that there was a Virginia, Nebraska? Probably lots of folks in southeastern Nebraska, but it was new to me when our son-in-law suggested road tripping there for dinner Friday night. He had queried Facebook for suggestions of small town diners to sample, and got three suggestions for Terry's Steakhouse in Virginia. After posting that was where we were going, he also got the suggestion to make reservations. Make reservations? Virginia has 67 people in it! Turns out that was excellent advice. You do, indeed, need reservations if you are to enjoy the delicious food at Terry's any time before midnight or so. Although, we heard a local relate that they have an excellent waitlist tradition - A six-pack of off-sale beer and a cell phone number. You can draw your own conclusions from that, because Nebraska Outback would be the last one to advocate breaking Nebraska's open container law.
Terry's 1
It takes about an hour to get to Virginia's from Lincoln - south on Highway 77 to Beatrice, then east on Highway 4/136 about 14 miles, then south at the junction of 4. Trust me - it is well worth the drive! We always try to sample local bars/diners on our travels, and Terry's is the perfect example of what we're hoping to experience. Sadly, we're generally disappointed, but there are gems out there!
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Terry Mencl's uncle opened the Mencl Tavern in 1948. Terry has owned it for 22 years, adding a full service restaurant to the mix in 2002. The walls are lined with paintings of historic Virginia, which was once a thriving pioneer community. About all that is left now is Terry's Steakhouse and the grain elevator.

The accolades of Terry's Steakhouse are seemingly unending. It has been voted as having the best prime rib in Gage County by the Beatrice Daily Sun for three years running, Jeff Korbelik, the restaurant critic for the Lincoln Journal Star has featured it a number of times, even naming it #5 in his top 10 of out-of-town eateries.
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So just what makes Terry's so great? One word: HOMEMADE! On the Salad Bar, you'll find all homemade salads. If you're lucky, like we were, Terry will be hungry for a traditional Czech dish - Noodles, Cabbage and Bacon, and you'll find a stew pot of it on the counter. Also on the counter will be several pans of homemade desserts. But don't just be satisfied with them. Ask for the homemade Banana Cream Pie or signature Snicker's cheese cake. You'll need the hour-long trip home just so you can get a start on digesting all of that goodness.
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They don't skimp on the entrees either. Our table had a couple of different fish specials, hamburger, and chicken fried steak, and everyone raved about their meal.
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The hometown friendliness was evident throughout our evening. The servers, the owners Terry and Kay Mencl, and the patrons all welcomed us with open arms. It was a delightful experience.

When you go:
Terry's Steakhouse
(402) 688-4286 (yes, phone for reservations!)
4th Street 2 Ave
Virginia, NE 68458
www.terryssteakhouse.com
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Crystal Key Inn in Newman Grove

Sometimes circumstances happen that we rail against, but end up turning out for the better. So went our genealogy trip to the Albion, Nebraska area. We had initially planned to use our RV (for the first time), but the weather conspired against us, with frigid temperatures and winter storm warnings. Mark decided that now was not the time to un-winterize the RV, only to have to winterize it again to account for this never-ending winter.

That meant we had to seek lodging in Northeast Nebraska, and happened upon the Crystal Key Inn in Newman Grove.
Photo courtesy of Crystal Key Inn
Photo courtesy of Crystal Key Inn

Earl and Diane accepted our reservation on very short notice, and provided us with a comfortable, warm and delightfully decorated "Garden View" room.
Crystal Key 4
After anticipating our trip for several weeks and expecting balmy spring temperatures only to experience bitter cold wind with the prospect of blowing snow the next day, this was truly heaven-sent.

Our innkeepers pride themselves on being excellent local tour guides. The Crystal Key Inn is a great hub-and-spoke headquarters for experiencing Northeast Nebraska. They are centrally located among numerous golf courses, lakes, wildlife preserves and other attractions. You'll welcome coming home to such a comfortable room after a day of exploring the area.

Of course, the "breakfast" in the "Bed and Breakfast" was wonderful. Earl and Diane served up fresh fruit and homemade granola, and special-recipe cornmeal pancakes with sausage.
Crystal Key 3
Being the curious tourism professional that I am, I requested a tour, and even though they are just prepping their rooms for the busy season, Earl and Diane graciously acquiesced.
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Our room is on the main floor, and while not 100% ADA accessible, is certainly convenient enough for most folks to access. On the second floor are three guest rooms, all with at least a half bath. There is a shared complete bath located on this floor. On the delightful third floor is a true gem of a retreat. Located under the eaves with imaginative nooks and crannies that peer out over the grounds, this is the perfect room to select for a family - especially if you have young maidens who like to pretend castles and knights in shining armor!

Earl and Diane are dedicated to keeping their regional and Nebraska tourism strong and are unceasing advocates for their industry. They are active in the Nebraska Association of Bed and Breakfast and strive for the utmost professionalism - and helping other innkeepers achieve their best as well.

When you go: Crystal Key Inn
314 South 4th Street, Newman Grove, NE, 68758
(402) 447-2772
www.CrystalKeyInn.com
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Delicious Pizza in Kearney - Trattoria Flippin Sweet!

Kearney has no shortage of delicious unique dining choices. We don't get to Kearney very often, so, unless we're just making a stop along I-80 for a quick lunch, we try to make it a point to go downtown and choose a local, independent option.
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I'd heard about Trattoria Flippin Sweet Pizza before from friends who raved about it, and I knew they they are the only Nebraska pizzeria selected as one of the top 27 pizzerias in the Midwest by Midwest Living Magazine. When we had the chance, we had to try it - we weren't disappointed!
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Flippin Sweet is in a converted service station right on the historic Lincoln Highway (Highway 30), near the downtown. They have added some great decor and made it into a truly unique eatery. The staff greets you as soon as you hit the door, giving instructions to fill out the order sheet.
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We enjoyed the Goodfella and the Mookie, both in 10" pizzas, and let me tell you, they are delicious! As we were finishing up, some local regulars arrived and perused the menu, before ordering their "usual". The server didn't even have to ask what it was - it's that kind of place.
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If you can't get to their location, they do have a food truck, and they do cater. Any way you can experience Flippin Sweet, I recommend it. You won't be disappointed.

When you go:
Flippin Sweet is located at 203 E. 25th Street, Kearney, NE 68847
(308) 455-3083
www.TheFlippinSweet.com
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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Stories - Settling the Sandhills

Excerpted from McPherson County: Facts, Families, Fiction; Established in 1890

By C. Barron McIntosh, Professor Emeritus, University of Nebraska

A homestead entry filed by Taylor Adams (his agent or attorney) was the first to be patented in McPherson County. Taylor Adams was a Civil War Veteran and as such had the privilege of filing under the Soldier’s Homestead Act (1872). This act was modified so that veterans could subtract the time they had served in the Civil War from the five years of residence required under the general Homestead Act.

Adams filed on only 40 actes in McPherson County. The Soldier’s Homestead Act, if the soldier’s first homestead had been less than 160 acres, gave him the privilege of filing an additional acreage so as not to exceed a total of 160 acres. Taylor Adams had evidently received a patent on an earlier homestead. Records show that he was granted his Final Receipt on the same date that appears in the Land Office Tract Book as the filing date, September 6, 1886.

Cattlemen used soldiers, their widows and dependent children to obtain desired land under homestead privileges granted Civil War veterans. The Spade Ranch case in Sheridan County was a good example of this use. The soldier could give or sell his homestead rights to an agent or attorney. Cattlemen would pay the veteran or his agent to file a soldiers claim on land desired by the cattlemen – often a watering place for their cattle.

It appears that Taylor Adams’ homestead rights were used in this manner. On the same date the Final Receipt was issued, Adams’ 40 acres were sold to a man by the name of Barnes, and leter that same day Barnes sold the land to John Bratt. John Bratt was a well known cattleman in the Platte Valley at that time. He probably used Taylor Adams’ 40 acre claim as a means of securing a corral or water well he had developed within the 40 acre claim. Taylor Adams probably never set foot on the homestead filed and patented in his name. Although this claim could have been patented any time after the final receipt was issued, the patent was not granted until April 6, 1889. This was still early enough to be the first patent issued for a homestead in McPherson County. The first homestead patent was thus issued on the same date that Richard Shield received the first pre-emption patent in the county.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Community Festivals - Think Sustainability!

The following article was posted in the North Platte Telegraph on March 4. It tells about a wonderful historical event that is being revived by North Platte's Lincoln County Historical Museum. That is a good thing. What makes me sad is that the folks down in Hayes Center, which had hosted the event for many years, were put in a position to have to make an end of the annual celebration. Read, and I'll comment below.
Posted: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 3:00 am

By Heather Johnson hjohnson@nptelegraph.com

A royal buffalo hunt is making a comeback in Nebraska.

The Lincoln County Historical Museum plans to reinvent the “Grand Duke Alexis Rendezvous” during Rail Fest Sept. 19-21. The idea is to commemorate the 1872 visit to the U.S. by Alexei Alexandrovich, otherwise known as the Grand Duke Alexis of Russia. “The U.S. was at the height of popularity with the Russian government at that time,” said Jim Griffin, museum curator. “Having Alexis visit was a way to cement diplomatic relations.”

A buffalo hunt, not far from Camp Hayes Lake, was organized to entertain the duke. Some of the more famous people involved in the adventure will be portrayed by actors during the rendezvous.

Among them will be Steve Alexander, of Monroe, Mich., who has been featured as General George Armstrong Custer in numerous TV shows and films. Kirk Shapland, of Dighton, Kan., will play William “Buffalo Bill” Cody, and Jahnis Abelite, of Arlington, Wash., will portray the duke.

Griffin said the actors will dress in period attire as they talk about the buffalo hunt and characters they represent. A series of lectures about topics such as Lakota story telling are also planned.

Griffin is hoping to offer a guided bus tour to the hunt site and to put on a play titled, “Fate Worse Than Death.” It is a comedy.

“The play is loosely based on the kind [of show] Buffalo Bill was in back east,” Griffin said. “It starts out with tall tales, and the audience is asked to hiss and boo at the characters.”

The original rendezvous was put on by Lions Club members and staged about 12 miles northeast of Hayes Center. It ran from 2000-2010 but was canceled in 2011 due to a lack of volunteers.

“We lost several members that were good workers,” said co-coordinator Doris Vlasin. “We just couldn’t seem to generate enough interest in the community to keep it going.”

The cost of the re-enactment also became a burden.

“We couldn’t charge admission fees because it was at Camp Hayes Lake on Nebraska Game and Parks Commission property,” Vlasin said. “It was expensive to do on our own, but I loved every minute of it and hated to give it up.”

Griffin has pursued grant funding to offset the cost of hosting the re-enactment in North Platte and is also seeking sponsorships. There will be an admission charge of $5 for anyone 12 or older. Those younger than 12 will be let in for free.

“It’s important to remember the hunt because of all the larger aspects that surrounded it,” Griffin said. “Not only does it show that Nebraska has been involved in world events, but it also demonstrates the interest in the west by Europeans, the end of the large buffalo hunts and the downfall of the Native American way of life.”
Note the quote in bold and italics - "we couldn't charge admission because it was on Nebraska Game and Parks Commission property."

The first priority of any event (I know... we do them because it's fun, it highlights our history, it brings economic development to our community, etc.) MUST be to be sustainable! Land owned by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is essentially land owned by the people of Nebraska. The NGPC has no qualms about charging people admission by requiring a state park sticker. Why would they jeopardize the sustainability of a wonderful celebration like this by not allowing the community to charge admission?

North Platte's own Rail Fest faces this same dilemma. The cornerstone of the celebration is the tours through Bailey Yard. However, since the buses are sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad, they aren't allowed to charge admission for them. Now I'm as cost conscious as the next tourist, and love seeing all the FREE stuff, but I also want a quality event to go to year after year. If you don't make any money, you won't be around long, because celebrations cost a LOT to keep going.

The folks over at the Greeley Irish Festival (which, by the way, is the same weekend as the Grand Duke Alexis Hunt reenactment and North Platte's Rail Fest) have it right. The festival area is fenced, and you pay an admission at the gate and receive a wristband. If you want to camp in the adjacent campground, you pay a (reasonable) fee. If you want to drink beer (It's an Irish Festival, after all!), or eat, you pay for it. Many of the food vendors are local organizations doing fundraising, but there are also commercial food and souvenir vendors. A perfect combination for lots of variety. With a sustainable business model, I foresee the Greeley Irish Festival being around for a long time.

I hope the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (and other sponsors) realizes that they need to be community partners with the resources they have, and allow communities and private individuals to earn enough money to be sustainable to keep offering great events and services for visitors and locals alike.

And please, if you're planning a community festival, think sustainability first! We want your wonderful event to be around for a long time.

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