“Who Knew History Could Be So Much Fun!” is the theme of this year’s Lincoln County Historical Museum’s Heritage Festival.
The weekend-long event is bigger and better with activities for young and old, said Museum Curator Jim Griffin.
“We’ve expanded our offerings and activities so that we can more adequately celebrate our heritage,” Griffin said. “This year we’ve added more food vendors, more demonstrations and more music for the event.
The Heritage Festival will begin at 8 p.m. Friday evening with a free concert by North Platte’s Municipal Band.
“The concert is free. All we ask is you bring your lawn chairs,” Griffin said. “We’ll open the museum grounds at 6 p.m. and food vendors will be open for dinner and snacks."
Saturday’s activities begin at 10 a.m., with a wide variety of demonstrations and activities. “We’ve scheduled blacksmith, spinning wheel and sawmill demonstrations as well as other old-fashioned craft and quilt events,” Griffin said.
There will also be a large showing of antique tractors and machinery. This is an excellent display put together over many years by the museum, and demonstrates the history and evolution of mechanized agriculture.
New to the Festival this year will be an outdoor film festival featuring films about the North Platte Canteen, the Beef State and other regionally related programs.
A popular feature is an impressive model railroad display set up in the Leu Room inside the main building.
It is also an excellent opportunity to visit the Lincoln County Historical Museum, including the official North Platte Canteen display and memorabilia. Everyone may also enjoy visiting the numerous buildings and homes in the Western Heritage Village,” Jim said.
Heritage Festival food is always a big attraction and this year will be no different. Jim has been notified that there will be German, Mexican, and of course, a host of American food vendors.
“The North Platte TeamMates group will be selling watermelon and a variety of soft drinks. We’re also expecting snow cones and kettle corn this year,” he said.
Music begins on the nain stage at 10:30 a.m. with a regional favorite -- the Flat Rock Irregulars. This group specializes in Irish music and will undoubtedly make the audience tap their toes. They will be followed by long-time Heritage Festival performers, The Gospel Lites at 11:30.
At noon, the Nebraskaland Days opening ceremonies will begin to kick off Nebraska’s official celebration.
After the NLD ceremonies conclude, the fun will just be beginning. At approximately 12:30 p.m. the Southwest Antique Machinery Collectors Association will present an auction, with proceeds targeted at select projects at the museum.
Then at approximately 1 p.m., the Nebraska Arts Council along with the North Platte Chamber Hostesses will present Joan Wells -- world famous trick roper. Wells is the Women's World Champion Trick Roper and inductee into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
She will present a dazzling and unique performance of trick and fancy roping, organizers say.
“We are so excited that Joan’s schedule permitted a stop at the festival,” Griffin said. “This will be a unique performance and those in the audience will be amazed.”
If antique tractors make you smile, you’ll not want to miss the Antique Tractor parade planned at the conclusion of Wells' performance -- about 2 p.m.
Main stage entertainment will conclude Saturday with a performance by the Hatchbacks. This talented group of performers will present a great show.
“We’re so pleased that the Hatchbacks could join us again this year,” Griffin said.
The fun resumes Sunday at 10 a.m. when the Heritage Festival reopens for a second day. At 11 a.m., the NLD Horse Carriage Driving Competition will be presented at the northeast corner of the Wild West Arena (near the Hansen Building).
Then from 2-4 p.m., the Heritage Festival will present that annual antique tractor rodeo. Attendees say it is a real good time. The tractor rodeo is free of charge and has become a “must see.”
“The Heritage Festival is a way to pass on to future generations, our historical foundation and ethnic history,” Griffin said. “We think that’s important to explore our roots in an enjoyable way, thus the theme - Who Knew History Could Be So Much Fun!”
The Heritage Festival sponsors and volunteers help make the celebration possible. Support came from the North Platte Chamber Hostesses, Sandhills Bank, Westfield Pharmacy, North Platte Telegraph and Mid-Plains Community College.
Griffin also thanked the North Platte TeamMates for participating.
"Our volunteers here at the museum are also invaluable," he said. "It takes a tremendous amount of man and woman power to make it all happen. We are certainly pleased that we can present an event honoring our ancestors and our heritage."