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97TH ANNUAL

Don Child’s Run By GRACIE BATT Gering Courier

Time to celebrate Oregon Trials Days attactitives will run from July 12-July 15.

By Michael Catarineau Star-Herald

Gering will be the place to be Thursday, July 12-Sunday, July 15 as the community celebrates the 97th Annual Oregon Trail Days. The celebration wil kickoff with a barbecue and street dance for the 97th annual Oregon Trail Days, set for Thursday, July 12, at 6 p.m. in front of the Scotts Bluff County Courthouse on 10th Street in Gering. The event sets the stage for a fun-filled weekend known as Oregon Trail Days — Nebraska’s continuous, longest-running celebration— which will

end Sunday, July 15, with a Gospel Jubilee at Legion Park. At the barbecue, The Meat Shoppe will provide BBQ beef sandwiches and chips for $4 per plate, and Gering City Council will serve the food. The Glendales will entertain. The evening is sponsored by Platte Valley Companies. The Oregon Trail Days Art Show and Sale will be at 7 p.m., Thursday evening, at the Gering Civic Center. “We plan on having 22 artists,” Vera Dulaney, long time volunteer for Oregon Trail Days, said. “Some from South

Dakota, Kansas, Wyoming and of course Nebraska.” For almost a century, Oregon Trail Days has offered the community a wide range of activities for toddlers and adults alike. The main parade — one of the many key events of Oregon Trail Days — is set for Saturday, July 15, at 10 a.m. This year’s theme is Pioneer Spirit on the Oregon Trail. “We’ll have a good one,” John Ewing said. “We always do have a good parade.” Ewing has been involved with Oregon Trail Days for

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over 30 years. So long, he doesn’t remember the exact number. The parade will feature settlers, beauty queens, Gering band, cheerleaders, class reunions and local businesses. Ewing said the parade usually has about 35-40 floats and everyone is welcome. The lineup to participate in the main parade begins Saturday at 8 a.m. Participants do not need to register and there is no entrance fee. Floats meet at Gering High School. Horses and other animals meet at Johnson Cashway. Cheerleaders and beauty queens will meet at Gardner Park. Ewing said water guns, candy and other handouts are prohibited. For questions about the art show and sale, contact Crystal Sandberg at 308-436-2858. For questions about the main parade, contact John Ewing at 308-637-7071, Mike Menzey at 308-635-3878 or Tracey Bentley at 308-631-4840. Actitivies will conclude with the Gospel Jubilee, featuring the Hebberts and other special guests Sunday night at Legion Park. The celebration brings the community together, draws visitors from around the world and brings past residents back to the area for the many different annual Oregon Trail Days actitivies. michael.catarineau@starherald.com

This year the annual Don Child’s Memorial Run will be held on Friday, July 13. The gun for the 5-mile race will go off at 7 a.m. The Don Child’s Memorial Run is held during Oregon Trail Days each year to honor Don Child’s Jr., who passed away in the 1970s. Randy Plummer, race organizer of the run, puts together the details of the race every year and with a lot of the same help. “ I rec r u it helpers, secure the shirts and the awards and generally make things run smoothly,” Plummer said. “I count on the same helpers every year, some who have helped with the race since the 1980’s. They are just as important to the race as I am.” Plummer commented on the people and friends brought back into the community because of this run. “I believe the race is an important part of OTD, because a lot of people who used to live in Gering come home during Oregon Trail Days and this is something they look forward to doing each year,” Plummer said. “ This is usually the only time I see many of my old students and acquaintances.” Plummer also examined the runner-side perspective of the impact of this 5-mile run. “Many people are runners and this race gives them the chance to prove to themselves that they can accomplish a difficult 5 mile run,” Plummer said. “Plus, there are always new runners, and the race becomes a tradition for them.” This memor ial r un always has a great turnout, bringing in around 200 people, even drawing natives of the area back in from all over the country to run for this specific race. Locals enjoy runSee RUN 3

Kiddie Parade By Gracie Batt Gering Courier

On Friday, July 13, the City of Gering will put on the 65th annual Oregon Trail Day Kiddie Parade. Taking the first step of the parade will be the color guard of the Boys Scouts and Cub Scouts of Gering. The Gering Junior High Marching Band will follow the scouts and play an arrangement of songs for the duration of the parade. The parade will span 4 blocks, starting at Legion Park, continuing to 10th Street, crossing N Street and finally leading back to the park. There are 16 different categories for the children to sort into. Some of these include: boy’s and girl’s bicycles, patriotic, horses,

creative costumes, sports and much more. “Anybody is welcome in any costume of their choice,” Mary Robinson, an organizer of the parade, encouraged. “They’ll have a group to walk with no matter what.” The Kiddie Parade is “all walking” and prohibits any motorized or battery powered floats. Four legged friends, however, may walk with the kids. Parents with children in strollers can walk with their child. Children also have the option to toss candy to people sitting on the sidewalk. “We’ve had dental groups tossing toothbrushes before,” Robinson added. “So the possibilities of fun things to hand out are very open.” File photo

The city has always made sure to keep the kid-oriented event well-supervised. Monitors will be set up to walk with each category. “Every year we have the GJHS Drug Free Clowns help us with the categories by holding a sign identifying each group,” Robinson said. “The Gering High School cheerleaders also walk with the children in the parade.” Since the first Kidde Parade in 1953, the amount of participants has grown a little more each year and continues to be a success for the city with 750 or more kids involved. “We’ve looked into this a little bit and, as far as we know, this is the only parade in Nebraska that is just for kids.” Robinson stated. “That’s something special and unique, I think, the kids love.” Registration will start at 9 a.m. in Legion Park. Signups are open

to any and all kids and daycares, completely free of any fees or charges. “As long as they come decorated and ready to have fun.” Robinson said. Participants will receive a ribbon, a carnival ride pass, and a day pass to the Gering Pool. Pepsi will also provide refreshments for the walkers at the end of the parade. The Kiddie Parade will kick off at 10 a.m. and is promised to be fun as the day goes on with games and activities to follow.

Kiddie Parade n Friday, July 13 n Downtown Gering n Registration 9 a.m. in

Legion Park

n Parade starts 10 a.m.

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Schedule of events Thursday 7/12 Kickoff BBQ Street Dance Art Show

Friday 7/13 Don Childs Run Art Show Kiddie Parade Old Settlers Luncheon Quilt Show Rod & Custom Car Show Food Fair Free Concert - 5 Rocks

Saturday 7/14 Bicycle Hill Climb Art Show Parade - 10 am Lunch @ Legacy of the Plains Quilt Show Mud Volleyball Craft Fair Chili Cookoff Family Day at 5 Rocks Horseshoe Tournament Wine Tasting & Entertainment

Sunday 7/15 Quilt Show Gospel Jubilee Legion Park


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OREGON TRAIL DAYS

Old Settlers Honorary Presidents, Vice Presidents honored since 1929 Old Settlers Honorary Officers are elected a year prior to the Oregon Trail Days of reign. The following is a list of the past Old Settlers Honorary Presidents and Vice Presidents: *deceased 1929 – E.P. Cromer, * Gering Mrs. Perry Braziel, * Lyman 1930 – R.C. Campbell, *,Gering Mrs. O.W. Gardner, * Gering 1931 – J.O. Ammerman,* Lyman Mrs. Wendell Gross, Sr., * Gering 1932 – E.J. Whipple, * Mitchell Mrs. Sarah Claypool, * Gering 1933 – B.F. Gentry, * Gering Mrs. W.H. Ingles, * Gering 1934 – W.H. Bartow, * Gering Mrs. Dan D. Davis, * Scottsbluff 1935 – T.D. Deutsch, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Ed W. Sayre, * Morrill 1936 – Harvey Harward, * Minatare Mrs. Vance J. Cross, * Harrisburg 1937 – Robert F. Neeley, * Gering Mrs. B.F. Gentry, * Gering 1938 – John M. Ewing, * Gering Mrs. Ida Adcock, * LaGrange, Wyo. 1939 – Al Preston, * Lyman Mrs. Fremont Scott, * Mitchell 1940 – J.G. Neighbors, * McGrew Mrs. C.H. Spieth, * Mitchell 1941 – C.B. Foster, * Lyman Mrs. Harry Wisner, * Scottsbluff 1942 – Ed Wright, * Minatare Mrs. Bessie Harding, * Gering 1943 – Vernon Kingry, * Gering Mrs. Melvin Snyder, * Harrisburg 1944 – Winfield Evans, * Scottsbluff Mrs. C.C. Hampton, * Gering 1945 – Harry T. Johnson, * Scottsbluff Mrs. F. Schuemacher, * Gering 1946 – Wheeler Raymond, * Scottsbluff Mrs. W.W. White, * Gering 1947 – James F. Westervelt, * Gering Mrs. Nancy McKiney, * Gering 1948 – Fred A Wright, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Melissa Randall, * Bayard 1949 – G.M. Crabill, * Melbeta Mrs. O.O. Ferbrache, * Scottsbluff 1950 – James McKinley, * Gering Mrs. C.E. Franklin, * McGrew 1951 – Frank Koenig, * Mitchell Valley Mrs. Anna Ripley, * Gering 1952 – Austin Moomaw, * Bayard Mrs. Florence Raymond, * Scottsbluff 1953 – Ed O. Harshman, * Minatare Mrs. Mamie Hilsabeck, * Scottsbluff 1954 – Alva Leonard, * Gering Mrs. Roy Baker, * Gering 1955 – Dean Randall, * Minatare Mrs. Al Preston, * Hull 1956 – Harry J. Wisner, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Martha Stauffer, * Harrisburg 1957 – Emerson Ewing, * Gering Mrs. Addie Hulbert, * Gering 1958 – Clyde O. Wyatt, * Gering Mrs. Earl Harvey, * Gering 1959 – Claude Westervelt, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Will Hampton, * Gering 1960 – Lee Cashier, * Harrisburg Mrs. Daisy Ewing, * Gering 1961 – Uzell Snook, * Harrisburg Mrs. Kathryn K. Lee, * Harrisburg 1962 – Elmer Peters, * Minatare Mrs. Frances Yount, * Gering 1963 – Perie Stone, * Mitchell Mrs. Bess Sanford Lee, * Mitchell 1964 – Roy Baker, * Gering Mrs. Edna Cleveland, * McGrew 1965 – Ray Weiner, * Bayard Mrs. Jennie Harris, * Gering 1966 – Roland Warner, * Hull Mrs. Madge Rundell, * Gering 1967 – Eugene Sowerwine, * Gering Mrs. Fannie Harshman, * Minatare 1968 – Charles S. Simmons, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Alta Cooper, * Gering 1969 – Frank Jessup, * Harrisburg Mrs. Pansy Gering, * Gering 1970 – Dr. W. Max Gentry, * Gering Mrs. Ida DeMott, * Gering 1971 – Leon Moomaw, * Bayard Mrs. Carrie Pattison, * Gering 1972 – Henry Stands, * Gering Mrs. Faye Hanks, * Gering 1973 -- C.D. Wildy, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Dean Randall, * Minatare 1974 – Fred Beltner, * Bayard Mrs. Duice Dooley, * Scottsbluff 1975 – Lawrence Warner, * Harrisburg Mrs. Dorothy Ponder, * Gering 1976 – John R. Jirdon, * Morrill Mrs. Dorothy Sorensen, * Gering 1977 – John Lawyer, * Scottsbluff Mrs. E.L. Sowerwine, * Gering 1978 – C.A. Emery, * Gering Mrs. Dessa Allison, * Gering 1979 – Carl Thomas, * Gering Mrs. Mabel Young, * Gering 1980 – Wilbur Dutton, * Melbeta Mrs. Aileen Duff, * Gering 1981 – Marvin Ewing, * Gering Mrs. Beulah Ewing, * Gering 1982 – Dewey Reeder, * Gering Mrs. Ella Parmenter, * Melbeta 1983 – Alden and Valden Rundell, * Gering Mrs. Helen Terbune, * Scottsbluff 1984 – Jeff Hampton, * Gering Mrs. Lillian Ouderkirk, Gering 1985 – Quentin Dean, * Gering Mrs. Lorene Smith, Gering 1986 – Edward Pattison, * Gering Mrs. Goldie Ewing Bigsby, * Gering 1987 – Don Childs, * Gering Mrs. Hazel Ewing Dutton, Gering 1988 – W. Richard Prohs, * Gering Mrs. Margaret Lockwood, * Gering 1989 – Ishmael “Ish” Schmidt, * Scottsbluff Mrs. Betty Sowerwine Vickery, Gering 1990 – Charles Young, * Gering Mrs. Beulah Bartow Hall, Gering 1991 – Emanuel Roth, * Gering See OLD SETTLERS, 4

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Lifelong educator named Old Settlers President By Jerry Purvis Star-Herald

John Harms of Scottsbluff, who has spent much of his working life in education and has also served as a Nebraska State Senator, was named as Honorary Old Settlers President for the 2018 celebration of Oregon Trail Days. Born in Bayard in 1940, John and his family moved to Morrill when he was six years old. “Morrill was a great place to grow up as a kid,” he said. “Everyone knew each other and if I did anything wrong, my mother knew before I got home.” John remembers the annual Oregon Trail Days celebration as an exciting time for kids as his family came down from Morrill to watch the parade. “Later when I had my own children, they also got involved in the kids’ parade,” he said. “My granddaughter was also in the parade.” Graduating from Morrill High School, he attended Chadron State College for his undergraduate degree in health and physical education in 1962. From there, John spent the next three years teaching biology and geography at Gering High School. He also coached the track and cross-country teams. Under his leadership, the cross-country team won its first state champion in 1963. “Pat and I got married while I was at Gering,” John said. “Then we went back to Chadron State to work on our master’s degrees. I was also an assistant to the Director of Housing and was a Dormitory House Parent.” After three years and a master’s degree in Secondary Administration, John was named as Director of Housing and Financial Aids at Chadron State in 1966. By that time, he was also working during the summers on his doctorate at Montana State University. In 1975, he was awarded an Ed.D. Degree in Higher Education Administration. He also served as Dean of Instruction and Dean of Students at Northeastern Nebraska College and Dean of Instruction at Northeast Technical College. John also served as President for both McCook Community College and North Platte Community College before coming back to the Panhandle. In 1976 he became President of Nebraska Western College, which later became Western Nebraska Community College. He served in that capacity until his retirement in 2006. “When we arrived, Nebraska Western was more of a junior college,” John said. “We wanted to become more comprehensive, to be a complete community college with both liberal arts and vocational/ technical education. As we progressed, it became clear part of our responsibility was to reach out and do training for business and industry. We prepared the college to teach any kind of skills the community wants.” For students who go on to pursue a liberal arts education, college debt becomes an issue. “This is something parents have to look at carefully,”

John said. “It’s a nice opportunity to attend a community college. It’s more cost-effective and students get the same basic level classes offered at larger universities.” John called community colleges a “smorgasbord” where students can discover their interests, whether it’s on the academic or technical side. “There are so many skilled, technical jobs in America that go unfilled,” he said. “Community college can help fill that gap.” No matter a person’s career path, Oregon Trail Days hold a special place in people’s hearts – memories of home, family, friends and mid-summer celebrations. For the Harms family, it included taking part in the Oregon Trail Days International Food Fair. “For about 10 to 15 years we served Greek food,” John said. “It was a family activity where the kids and grandkids could get involved. It was also a time when I got to see a lot of people I didn’t see on a regular basis. Those were really rewarding days.” Just prior to his retirement in 2006, Western Nebraska Community College established a new education center: the John N. Harms Advanced Technology Center of Nebraska. The name was in recognition to John’s years of leading the charge to develop a regional technology training center at the college. Since then, the Harms Center has trained students for the workplace through education with no boundaries. Whether it’s training in technical or professional skills, the center responds to the community’s economic needs while promoting the success of a diverse community. The center’s goal is to offer worldclass training that meets the needs of rural America. Although he retired from leading the college, John still wasn’t finished with serving the community and the state. In 2006, John ran for the Nebraska Legislature, serving two terms until 2014. As a strong advocate for education in the state and beyond, some of his memberships over the years have included the American Educational Technical Association; American Association of Community Colleges; Council for Advancement and Support of Education; and the Committee for Educational Progress. “I was surprised,” is how John reacted to being elected as Old Settlers Honorary President for Oregon Trail Days. “It’s a real honor but I never dreamed about it.” John added that since he returned to the valley in 1976, he’s tried to always take time to appreciate the area’s unique beauty and the rich history that has led us to where we are. “Oregon T ra il Days is important because of the history we celebrate,” John said. “We live here and the history surrounds us every day. It’s sometimes easy to forget that.” jpurvis@starherald.com

COURTESY PHOTO

During his years at Morrill High School, John Harms was a running back on the football team.


Vice President comes from long line of honorees By Jerry Purvis Star-Herald

Started in 1921 as a day to honor the community’s old settlers, the Old Settlers reunion remains the cornerstone of Oregon Trail Days. Named as this year’s Old Settlers Honorary Vice President is Scottsbluff resident Mildred Fitts. Originally from Gering, Mildred will turn 93 in August. Her family farmed southeast of Gering in Creighton Valley, just west of Cochran Lake. “When I was child we’d always go to the carnival during Oregon Trail Days,” she said. “My grandparents lived a couple of blocks east of Main Street, so that’s where we hung out.” Mildred graduated from Melbeta High School in 1944. “There were a

few sports like baseball and volleyball, but not like today,” she said. “It was more for fun. We’d play teams from Sunflower, Lake Minatare and some others.” The summer of her graduation she married Stuart Fitts of Minatare. Over the years, they farmed in the Minatare and Morrill areas before settling permanently in Creighton Valley. “Creighton Valley is close to Gering, so we’d always bring the children to town for Oregon Trail Days,” she said. “They were in 4-H and would help with building the floats. There were a lot more floats in the parade back then.” When not busy with the farming operation, Mildred would present poetry readings for her church and other organizations. She learned it from her mother Etta, and her children also grew up knowing some of the classic poetry works. At Christmas, Mildred always has a special reading for her grandchildren. Over the years, Mildred has worked in the kitchen for several area schools in the 1980s, including Melbeta and several years at Gering. Because she enjoys quilt making, Mildred has put her skills to work making special quilts for all of her children. Mildred’s children include Valerie Wilder, Vicki Faaborg, Vance Fitts, Cheryl Dean, Rodney Fitts and Sandra Gildemaster. When all the spous-

es and generations of grandchildren and great-grandchildren are added up, Mildred’s now has 116 descendants. Mildred is the fourth generation of a family that arrived in the valley in 1889. Several of Mildred’s family members were also honorary members of the Old Settlers. Her grandfather, Bill Bartow, was an Honorary President. Albert Bartow was President of the Half Century Club. And her brother, Don Parmenter, was the Honorary President in 2011. Her mother, Etta Parmenter, was Honorary Old Settlers Vice President in 1982. Her sister, Gladys Doremus, also served as Vice President in 2015. “When my mother was Vice President, the Old Settlers meetings were held in the basement of the Methodist Church in Gering,” Mildred said. “There was no air conditioning so it was really hot.” Since completion of the Gering Civic Center in 1993, the Old Settlers reunion meetings are now in an air conditioned space. As Honorary Vice President, Mildred will help lead the 2018 Oregon Trail Days Parade. Her family will be represented as well as children and grandchildren will be riding on the Fitts family float. Pulling the float will be Mildred and Stuart’s first tractor, a John Deere purchased new in 1945. jpurvis@starherald.com

Mildred Fitts graduated from Melbeta High School in 1944. Married just out of high school, she and her husband spent their lives in the farming business. COURTESY PHOTO

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ning this race again and again every year. Jaela Hardin, a senior at Gering High School, ran this race for the first time with her dad. “My dad is an avid runner,” Hardin said. “So the first year I ever ran it was with him just for fun.” Hardin, who has since joined her high school cross country team, now runs the Don Child’s Memorial Run every year with her team. “It feels almost weird not to run it at this point,” Hardin exclaimed. “It’s such a tradition for the town and my team.” A fter par ticipating in this run and on her team for the last four

years, Hardin enjoys the team-building it provides for further summer training. “This race is a great opp or t u n it y for t he team to come together and cheer each other on during the summer,” Hardin stated. Logan Moravec, a wellknown senior runner at G er ing High School, loves the competition and intensity that other excellent runners bring to this run. “I love the competition that comes to the Don Child’s Run,” Moravec said. “People come back from college or their professional careers just for that race. That helps my summer training a ton because it shows me where I’m at compared

to others, and brings out the competitive side of me.” Moravec a lso commented on the impact races like the Don Child’s Memorial Run have on the community and their team. “It brings the town together and lets them see what our XC program will be like in the season,” Moravec stated. “It is really important to get to know the people who will be supporting you, and let them know that you appreciate them.” To sign up for the run will only cost $10. This fee will include a t-shirt given at registration. Registration will start at 6 a.m. in front of the old Gering Citizen offices on 10th Street in Gering.

Square Dancing Morgan Wallace Star-Herald

In the middle of the International Food Fair excitement on Friday, July 13, a group of square dancers will do-sa-doe and promenade for the audience passing by at 10th and O Streets. The dance, which will be called by Lucky Kochenower, will start at 8 p.m. Kochenower, who has been calling square dance for 40 years, feels the dance went wonderfully. Kochenower has been calling the square dancing for over 25 years and said there used to be three callers. Soon, it narrowed down to one and he has continued to do it since. He said he and the dancers who participate enjoy the public exposure and hope it will bring more dancers to join the group. “It’s nice to be part of the festivities and a big celebration like Oregon Trail Days,” Kochenower said a few years ago. “Square dancing is the best form of exercise that there is,” Kochenower said. “There’s nothing better physically, mentally and emotionally, all three.”

Square Dancing n Friday, July 13 n 8 p.m. n 10th and O St.

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OREGON TRAIL DAYS

Sunday, July 8, 2018

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Stay Safe & Enjoy Oregon Trail Days! 1124 Broadway, Suite A • Scottsbluff, NE

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Participants are asked to arrive early. Join the rest of the Gering Cross Country team and many other runners this summer at the Don Child’s 5-Mile Memorial Run.

Half Century Club Former Officers 1937- E.P. Cromer & Mrs. Dan Johnson 1938- Winfield Evans & Mrs. Albert Hubbard 1939- Henry Russel & Mrs. Francis Johnson 1940- E.J. Whipple & Mrs. Gertrude Shumway 1941- John Ewing & Mrs. Pearl Davis 1942- A.B. Wood & Mrs. John Springer 1943- H.J. Wisner & Mrs. Anna Ripley 1944- A.W. Raymond & Mrs. Elsie Gross 1945- F.P. Johnson & Mrs. Nancy McKinney 1946- George Cromer & Mrs. Carrie Pattison 1947- Elmer Peters & Mrs. Fanny Curtis 1948- Leon Moomaw & Mrs. Cora Gentry 1949- A.F. Burnett & Mrs. Addie Hoffman 1950- Orville Bartow & Mrs. Ina Howard 1951- Emerson Ewing & Mrs. Nettie Elquest Ummel 1952- John Belden & Mrs. Ella W. Baker 1953- Rolland Warner & Mrs. Carrie Heidt 1954- Norman McKinnon & Mrs. Florence Raymond 1955- Percy Scriven & Mrs. Bess Sandford Lee 1956- Ray Wisner & Mrs. Alice Nerud 1957- Perle Stone & Mrs. Jennie Harris 1958- Reuben Elquest & Mrs. Wilhelmina Brown 1959- T.H. Elquest & Mrs. Dean Randall 1960- Frank Jessup & Mrs. Iona B. Campbell 1961- Carl Ewing & Mrs. Rolland Warner 1962- Earl A. Holcomb & Mrs. Edna Wood 1963- Lawrence Warner & Mrs. Dorothy Wood Ponder 1964-Dave Boodry & Mrs. Ailene Rundell Duff 1965- Red. R Feidler & Mrs. Gwendoly Tjardes 1966- Max Gentry & Mrs. Edna Shannon 1967- Fred Beltner & Mrs. Pansy Gering 1968- Alden & Valden Rundell & Mrs. Julie Emick 1969- Howard Osborne & Mrs. Goldie Wilson 1970- Marvin Ewing & Mrs. Mildred Stratton 1971- Ralph Townsend & Mrs. Ila Lawrence 1972- Otis Terhune & Mrs. Lillian Ouderkirk 1973- Wilbur Dutton & Mrs. Jane Bownman 1974- Glend Clifton & Mrs. Mary Fanning 1975- Robert Barton & Mrs. Kathry Young Knapp 1976- J. Chris PEterson & Mrs. Mabel Young 1977- Harold Bartz & Mrs. Fred Gompert 1978- Reuben Coppon & Mrs. Waldo Dutton 1979- H. Keith Warner & Mrs. Melvin Maxwell 1980- Maurice Scriven & Mrs. Herb Hanich 1981- John Cromer & Mrs. Ola Mae Pfeifer 1982- Alber Bartow & Mrs. MAry Alice Burchfield 1983- Neil M. Gatch & Mrs. Shirley Rice 1984- Cleo Gering & Mrs. Lillian Stoddard 1985- Charles Younty & Mrs. Frances Fowler 1986- Dr. Harold Gentry & Mrs. Marjorie Brown 1987- Emanuel Roth & Mrs. KAthryn Williams 1988- Manford Rickett & Beverly Faden 1989- Franklin Page & Maria Ross 1990- E. Earl “Bud” Stoddard & Sharon Larsen 1991- Quintin “Bud” Morse & Sue Johns 1992- Ronald Dutton & Bonnie Ingwerson 1993- H. Stuart Morrison & Maxine Gatch 1994- Farrell Ross & Alice Kenitz 1995- Fred Lockwood & Phyllis Spurgeon 1996- John McLellan Jr. & Nora Mae Vance 1997- Ted Miller Jr. & Alvina Stoddard 1998- George Schlothauer & Mary Dickinson 1999- Darr John & Darlene Hall 2000- Bob Unzicker & Julie Fancher 2001- Neal Smith & Marietta Warner 2002- Dough Leafgreen & Barbara Muhr 2003- David Crandall & Gladys Wyatt 2004- Mike Marker & Lillis Grassmick 2005- Don Gentry & Dr. Dee Burchfield

See HALF CENTURY, 5


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OREGON TRAIL DAYS

Oregon Trail food fair Morgan Wallace Star-Herald Columnist

Food vendors will take over Gering’s Main Street during the Oregon Trail Days Food Fair on Friday, July 13. While applications for the Food Fair are still coming in, Chairman Jodi Ruzicka estimates that the event will have around 30 vendors. “There is anywhere from German food to Mexican food, there is barbeque, ice cream, cupcakes, Cuban food and more,” Ruzicka said. “There’s a large variety.” Ruzicka said she starts organizing the event by sending out applications to the vendors who have been coming out for years and, through word of mouth, the event adds new vendors every year. She said vendors come from anywhere from Colorado to Eastern Nebraska. “The word just spreads,” Ruzicka said. Bill Peters, who assists Ruzicka, said that he and the third member of the committee, Katie Reichert, help with organizing and setting up the locations for the vendors. File photo

“We establish places for various vendors and try to put them in a place that meets their requirements as much as possible and also meets the requirements that we have in terms of access to power and things of that nature,” Peters said. Peters said a few hours before the food fair the vendors are given access to their locations and the committee ensures they are in those locations and have what they need. “We give these people an opportunity to set up and get ready for a 5 o’clock opening when the general public comes in to buy whatever it is that tickles their taste buds,” Peters said. More than anything, Peters said the committee tries to make sure everything runs smoothly. He said that the locations are somewhat flexible as some vendors end up joining last minute and others may not be able to make it due to a change of plans so the committee has to act quickly to move people to expand or contract the event as necessary. Ruzicka has been involved with the food fair for five years but said she has been involved in Oregon Trail Days for much longer than that. “I was born and raised in Gering and wanted to take part in the community so I thought joining the Oregon Trail Days board would allow me to give back to the community,” Ruzicka said. Her favorite thing about the Food Fair is seeing how many vendors they can get for the event as well as the people that come to the event. “It’s fun to see people interact,” Ruzicka said. Peters said his favorite thing about the event is seeing the people who show up. “Very frankly, I enjoy seeing all of the people there having a good time,” Peters said. “It’s great fun.” Peters mentioned that in addition to the Food Fair, there will be a bounce house for kids as well as the Custom Car Show, which is right down the street in front of the Courthouse. “It’s a great treat for people to enjoy their afternoon and see what people have brought in and appreciate the work and fun that their hobby brings them,” Peters said. Applications for the Food Fair can be found on the oregontraildays.com website under the forms section.

Bicyclists take on monument By Jerry Purvis Star-Herald

GERING – For bicyclists up to a challenge, the annual Oregon Trail Days Hill Climb is coming up Saturday morning, July 14. The 1.6 mile, average five percent grade course starts at the Visitors Center at Scotts Bluff National Mon-

OLD SETTLERS

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Mrs. June Rodebush Shrader, Gering 1992 – LeRoy Elliot, Gering Mrs. Virginia Weatherfield, * Gering 1993 – Keith Warner, * Banner County Mrs. Mary Alice Burchfield, Banner County 1994 – Melvin Brown, Gering Mrs. Frances Ross, Gering 1995 – Willard Ross, Gering Mrs. Frances Reeder Fowler, Gering 1996 – Dr. Walter Harvey, Gering Mrs. Birdeen Zier, Gering 1997 – Walter Stauffer, Banner County Mrs. Darlene Lawson Specht, Gering

ument west of Gering and heads up the summit road to the top. Riders remain at the summit until the last rider finishes, when a pilot car will lead the descent back down the monument. Entrants can register early by filling out a form at Sonny’s Bike Shop on East Overland in Scottsbluff. Registration will also be taken from

1998 – Dr. Harold Gentry, Gering Mrs. Polly Ponder Gentry, Gering 1999 – Neil Gatch, Melbeta Maria Ross, Gering 2000 – Howard Allison, Mitchell Valley Dorothy Brown, Gering 2001 – James K. Irwin, Gering Shirley Gilbaugh, * Gering 2002 – Charles Snocker, * Scottsbluff Sue John, Melbeta 2003 – Larry Sandberg, * Gering Maxine Gatch, Melbeta 2004 – Ed Spurgeon, * Scottsbluff Marletta Warner, Gering 2005 – Bill Templar, Gering Betty Wiedeman, Gering 2006 – Bud Stoddard, Gering Alice Gentry Kenitz, Gering 2007 – Ronald Dutton Lillis Grassmick 2008 – Darrell Ingwerson,

6-6:45 a.m. the day of the race, which starts at 7 a.m. For safety’s sake, helmets must be worn at all times. The registration fee is $20 with checks made payable to Oregon Trail Days. Entrants must also sign a waiver agreement and the event is limited to 90 bicyclists. Awards will be presented for best See BICYCLE, 5

Sunday, July 8, 2018

‘Bowl of Red’ cook-off By Jerry Purvis Star-Herald

GERING – The heat is on at Five Rocks Amphitheater the afternoon of July 14 when about 30 cooks from around region create their best “bowl of red” at the 32nd annual Oregon Trail Days Chili Cook-Off. Since the first cook-off in 1986, Gering has hosted the Nebraska State Championship event for CASI, the Chili Appreciation Society International. In addition to the potential of winning local honors, cooks brewing up CASI chili may also vie for an invite to the big show – the annual CASI international competition in Terlingua, Texas in November. CASI chili is a simple dish of red chili sauce and meat. No beans or fillers are allowed in the official CASI recipe. Bill Schlaepfer, cook-off event chairman, said he’s received a few early registrations and lots of inquiries, but most cooks register the morning of the event. One of the longtime cooks is Mike Horton of Omaha, who’s been in all 31 cook-offs so far and plans to make it 32 this July. Schlaepfer said Horton is a good cook that will usually place in the competition. He also brings friends along and other cooks to take part. In addition to CASI chili, cooks can compete in other categories as well. One of the most popular among the cooks is green chili. Green chili is made from green chili peppers, tomatillos, onion and pork for the meat. Depending on the cook, the heat level can range anywhere from spicy to eye-watering. The open beef category can include ribs, steaks or any other cut prepared however the cook likes it. The open bean category is popular because it awards cash prizes from the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. About any dish made from dry beans fits into that category. Past entries have included barbecue beans, black bean chili and even traditional ham and beans. CASI also sponsors a junior competition for cooks under the age of 18 and cook under adult supervision. Schlaepfer said they get a few younger cooks, usually those who have come with their families. “Not many competitors cook in just one category,” he said. “Those who do are usually first timers that are just getting familiar with how the cook-off is run.” Gates at the Oregon Trail Days Chili Cook-Off open to the public on Saturday, July 14, at 1 p.m. There will be a beer garden, vendors, a water slide and music from the Drivin’ Dynamics. Chili tasting starts at 3 p.m. once all the entries have been turned in to the judges. The last prize, one all the cooks like to win, is the People’s Choice Award. It’s determined by the number of votes a cook receives from the public, no matter the category. Organizers are trying something new this year: a salsa contest. It was added, as was the green chili category, because of cook requests. Cooks must use fresh ingredients to prepare on-site, either green or red chili or pico de gallo. Salsa judging will be at noon and winners announced during the awards ceremony at 5:30 p.m. Cooks may have some of their salsas available for public tasting during the afternoon. jpurvis@starherald.com

Jean Hamburger 2009 – Rodney Dowell, Alvina Stoddard 2010 – Darr John, Joan Cromer 2011 – Don Parmenter, Melbeta Patricia Howard 2012 – Henry Meter, Gering Phyllis Spurgeon, Gering 2013 - Keith Hampton, * Gering Wanda Mowry, Gering 2014 - Kent Greenwalt, Gering Alice Reuter, Gering 2015 - Dr. Bill Myers, Gering Gladys Doremus, Scottsbluff 2016 - Dr. Donald Gentry, Gering Bonny Ingwerson, * Gering 2017 - Paul Christian, Mitchell Nadine Dietrich, Scottsbluff 2018 - John Harms, Scottsbluff Mildred Fitts, Scottsbluff

Welcome to Oregon Trail Days! King Suites with whirlpool tubs Complimentary Breakfast Indoor Pool & Fitness Facility Free Wi-Fi · Pets Welcome Business Center

At the corner of Old Oregon Trail Road & 10TH Street

308.633.7660 Gering, NE

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OREGON TRAIL DAYS

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Josh Turner concert tickets going fast By Katelyn Lambert Star-Herald

GERING — Josh Turner will be rocking the valley July 14 when he plays at Five Rocks in Gering as a part of the Oregon Trail Days festivities. “Ticket sales have been going excellent,” said Bill Boyer, director of programming & operations at KNEB. As of Friday, less than 12 reserved seats remained and just over half of the general admission tickets were left for sale. Capacity of Five Rocks is just under 3.500, and around 1,000 tickets still

remain for sale. However, Boyer said ticket sales have picked up slightly as the concert fast approaches. Tickets first went on sale in February, and sales surged from the start. Now that the concert is days away, sales have spiked with around 200 tickets sold in the last three days. “We’ve seen very swift ticket sales in the last week or so,” Boyer said. Getting Josh Turner here for this year’s concert series has been in the works for nearly a year, Boyer said. Boyer and the team at KNEB started working with a booking agent in

August, and started talking to Turner’s team in September. When selecting which artists to try and contract, Boyer said they like to keep in mind artists who can route through this area. If an artist is already going to be passing through the area because of a tour, they can be easier and more affordable to book. For this year, Turner was KNEB’s first pick and the one who they were able to book. “His folks have been awesome to work with,” Boyer said. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., and the concert will begin with Justin Kane at

BICYCLE FROM 4 time for both men and women, as well as the youngest and oldest riders. Divisions include road bike, mountain bike, tandem bike and unicycle. Age divisions are under 10, 10-15, 16-18, 19-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, and 70 and over. Parental consent is required for riders under 18.

File photo

Mud volleyball continues to be big hit 7th annual event scheduled for July 14 at Five Rocks

By JEFF FIELDER Gering Courier

The Oregon Trail Days Mud Volleyball Tournament has been a big success since it started seven years ago. This year’s event should be no different, as all 64 spots in the tournament have been filled. The tournament is scheduled for Saturday, July 14, at Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering. Games begin at 8 a.m and will run throughout the day until 8:30 that night. There will be divisions for elementary, high school and adult. Trophies will be awarded to the top teams. Event organizer Rebecca Shields said the event is fun for both the players and spectators. “I think a lot of people really like it because it’s something fun to do with your friends in the summer,” she said. “Also, it’s usually pretty hot outside, so they get to be in the water.” Shields started the event seven years ago to coincide with Gering’s 125th birthday. There were 34 teams that first year competing on two pits. “I didn’t know how popular it would be,” Shields said. “But it was a big hit, so we decided to keep it going. It’s just kept growing and growing.” A few years ago, the tournament consisted of 88 teams, using four pits, but Shields said tournament organizers learned that that number was too high in order to get all the games completed by 8:30 p.m. Therefore, the tournament has been capped at 64 teams, using four pits, the last few years. Shields said there are new teams that

enter each year; however, many of the teams have been competing in the event for several years. “We even have about 10 teams that have been participating in this since the mud volleyball tournament started,” she said. “A lot of the teams have stayed the same. I think they look forward to playing each other since they’ve played some of the other teams before.” In order to keep games on schedule, each match consists of 20 minutes. Whichever team is ahead after 20 minutes earns the victory. Shields said the tournament features players with many different playing abilities. However, playing in mud and water helps even things out among the teams, Shields said. “I think it’s nice because it kind of puts everyone on the same playing level,” she said. “Since you’re playing in the mud and 3 feet of water, I think it’s challenging and fun for everyone.” Shields encourages people in the community to come watch the event. Admission is free. There will be food vendors, and the OTD Chili Cook Off will also be going on that same day at Five Rocks. Shields thanked city employees for their help with getting the volleyball pits ready for the tournament. “Each year they’re the ones who scoop out the pits because the weeds have grown,” she said. “Then about two weeks before the event starts, they start filling it up with water. It soaks in the first several days and then after that it starts staying in there. We really appreciate their help.”

Beer and Wine Sampling By Irene North Star-Herald

If you’re looking for a low-key but fun socializing event during Oregon Trail Days, the Beer and Wine sampling event is just for you. The annual event is a great alternative to the busy bar scene and allows attendees to sample different products in a less hectic

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2006- Dana Weber & Shirley Hairmon 2007- Kent Greenwalt & Julie Morrison 2008- Kevin Sandberg & Lydia Grasmick 2009- Gray Hessler & Meredyth Gentry 2010- Kent McLellan & Norma Ray 2011- John Bays & Genene Morrison 2012- Henry J. & Marily J. Rahmig 2013- Rick Myers & Connie Russel 2014- Dr. Daryl Wills & JoAnn Smith 2015- Rudy & Cora Hernandez & Cherie Loose 2016- Tom Donahue & Crystal Sandberg 2017- Mike Smith & Helen Vogel 2018- David Christian & Mary Robinson

7:30 p.m. Turner will come out between 8:45 and 9 p.m., according to Boyer. “We’re very excited to bring him in,” Boyer said. A second gate was put on the south side of the ampitheater, which will allow another entrance into the ampitheater and also provide additional parking. Tickets can be purchased on kneb. com/tickets by following the link on the page. However, tickets are not guaranteed to be for sale at the door, and Boyer recommends not to wait to buy tickets. For more information on the concert, contact KNEB. katelyn.lambert@starherald.com

Hill climb coordinator Daryl Payne with the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club said they’ve had entrants in every age category over the years and they encourage kids in the under 10 and 10-15 age categories to participate. For more information, call Daryl at 308-631-7076 or visit the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club Facebook page. jpurvis@starherald.com

Celebrants can get home safely By Jerry Purvis Star-Herald

For the 7th straight year, volunteers with Safe Ride OTD will be out in the community during Oregon Trail Days so anyone that over-celebrates can get a safe ride home. Working from their headquarters at the Monument Inn and Suites in Gering, volunteer drivers will provide a free ride home to anyone who requests one. Rides will be provided on Friday and Saturday, July 13 and 14 from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., or whenever calls stop coming in. There are usually about 15 volunteer drivers and one or two dispatchers to handle calls as they come in. Project co-chair Kevin Fordyce started as a volunteer driver for Safe Ride OTD during their second year and soon realized its importance. “We want to make sure people can go out and celebrate and get home safely without endangering themselves or others,” Fordyce said. “Last year we gave 259 rides, which broke our record from the previous year.” Safe Ride OTD is only possible because of the generosity of volunteer drivers that use their own cars, gas and insurance to provide the service. While rides are free, tips are always appreciated. Fordyce said that last year, they provided rides from the Minatare and Bayard areas to as far west as Mitchell. Drivers also have signs on the cars identifying them as part of OTD Safe Ride, as well as the necessary paperwork, so they can be easily cleared through law enforcement checkpoints. “The officers at the checkpoints usually tell me how much they appreciate the service,” Fordyce said. “It makes their jobs easier when they don’t have to deal with an

atmosphere. With musical entertainment by Perfect Blend, along with food vendors, visitors can sample a selection of beer and wine while kicking back and relaxing to the sounds of Perfect Blend. The Beer and Wine Sampling will be held in the Oregon Trail Days building, 1125 J Street, Gering on Saturday, July 14, from 6:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $25 and are available at the gate. inorth@starherald.com

unfortunate incident involving an intoxicated driver.” Gering Police Chief George Holthus said Safe Ride has been a big help to his department over the years. “Anyone who takes advantage of that great service reduces the chance for a tragedy,” he said. “We want people to enjoy themselves during Oregon Trail Days but to be responsible. Safe Ride OTD is a big part of that so people can get home safely.” The spark that led to the formation of Safe Ride OTD was a Facebook discussion on the dangers of impaired driving during Oregon Trail Days and other summer activities. One of the people in the discussion was Lisa Betz-Marquez. Alcohol is a part of so many of the Oregon Trail Day activities. She said the project’s goal is simple: to help make sure no tragic stories end up on Facebook or in the local media. Since then, she’s been pleased with positive comments from people who request the service. “We’re setting up at the Monument Inn and Suites, next to the Gering Civic Center,” Betz-Marquez said. It’s close to a number of the local bars so people can easily come over and get a ride home.” Volunteers are always needed for Safe Ride OTD. For information, call Kevin Fordyce at 308-765-1408. jpurvis@starherald.com

Safe Ride OTD n Friday, July 13 and Saturday, July 14 n 10 p.m.-1 a.m. n Monument Inn and Suites n To volunteer, call 308-765-1408


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