NORTH PLATTE—Celebrating 50 years in North Platte, Nebraskaland Days continues through this weekend. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the festival moving to North Platte, having previously begun in Lincoln with the 1964 parade and 1965 first festival.
North Platte bid for the relocation because of the already established Buffalo Bill Rodeo and home of Buffalo Bill. Nebraskaland Days Executive Director/CEO David Fudge said the Buffalo Rodeo began in 1882 and was recognized as the world’s first spectator rodeo by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA). (Click here for PRCA Buffalo Bill Rodeo results; rodeo took place June 13-16.)
However, the 1968 move to North Platte did not take away from the fact that the festival is aimed at celebrating the entire state.
“It’s not a North Platte celebration, I want to emphasize that, this is Nebraska’s official state celebration. It was deemed so in the 1980s by the legislature,” Fudge said. “This is the state festival, it is not a North Platte festival, it is not a Lincoln County festival, it’s not even a central Nebraska festival. You’ve got to celebrate who we are as a people from border to border and so we take that charge seriously.”
David Fudge said it takes thousands to execute a celebration of this grandeur and it is designed for people of all ages. Last year’s records indicated that patrons from 43 states and five countries attended the state celebration. Events scheduled for the nearly two weeks of activities include quilt shows, the rodeo, golf, steer wrestling, kids’ parades and festivities, tennis tournaments, antique car displays, beer gardens, feedings and a cake auction, and much more.
The annual Nebraskaland Days parade, one of the largest in the state, featured 140 entries according to Fudge and took place on Saturday.
Rebel Sjeklocha, 17, of Hayes Center, was crowned the new Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska 2018. Eva Oliver, 20, is the new Miss Rodeo Nebraska 2019.The Merriman woman was crowned Wednesday night during the first performance of the Buffalo Bill Rodeo in North Platte.
Still to come this week are art shows, cowboy kickball, beer gardens and food courts, Heart of America Show Carnival, pavilion parties, prime rib sandwich feed, muttin bustin’, kids fun festival, food and beverage events, and of course the weekend concerts featuring Florida Georgia Line with Brett Young on June 22 and the legendary Alabama with Charlie Daniels Band performing on Saturday, June 23.
Fudge emphasized that many of the Nebraskaland Days events are free or inexpensive for Nebraska families and thanked the businesses, clubs, games and parks, service organizations, and churches involved that make the event possible.
“We’re proud of it, we’re thankful to everybody who has helped us put it together because it does take an army of thousands over there to do this,” Fudge said. “It takes the entire community to put the thing together and we couldn’t do it without them.”