The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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‘Tis The Season

on July 16, 2012

If you know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and road
construction, you live in Nebraska – Jeff Foxworthy

Jeff is pretty close here but he left out a couple “Nebraska sub seasons”. The first is “Football Season.” Nebraskans are ardent fans.  On any given Saturday in almost winter if the Huskers are playing a home game Memorial stadium in Lincoln becomes the 3rd largest city in the state. (No – I’m not kidding.) If the game is away many of us are traveling to whenever they are.  The rest of us are glued to the television or radio depending on who is broadcasting.  Want to have no one show up at your wedding? Have it during a Husker game. (Good luck getting the groom there by the way.) While this is annoying to some women I have no problem with it. Of course I’m a 4th generation Nebraskan.

The other sub season occurs during road construction.  It’s “Fair and Community Celebration Season.”  Because we are all cooped up during almost winter, winter and still winter, we Nebraskans try to shove as many celebrations as possible into the season of road construction.  You can be sure that on any given weekend during the three months of road construction that some small town in Nebraska is having a community celebration weekend. These should not be confused with the county fairs that are held in each of the 93 counties in the state.  County fairs are for 4H exhibits and showing farm animals and concerts and rodeos and people hoping they get a purple ribbon and an invitation to the State Fair in September. They are fun but not the same.  No the small town community celebration is something different all together.  These are local events celebrating  the town and what is special about it.  Funny because most of them include the same events:

1. A Parade. This means tractors and Shriners and the poor sweating local high school band kids.  There are a few floats throwing candy and all the boy and girl scouts are there.  My friend from high school recently took her young son to the celebration in our home town. She heard him summarizing the parade a few days later to a friend. “Yeah, you stand on the curb and people drive by in tractors & things & throw things at you. Oh, and everybody waves at each other a lot.”   Kid is pretty accurate.

2. Food.  There is always a pancake feed and an ice cream social somewhere in town. That’s usually just the beginning of the food indulgences for the weekend.

3. A street dance and beer garden.  Well….that just blew your “Little House on the Prairie” image didn’t it?

Each small town, however, tries to throw in something special and unique to the town.

The small town where I grew up has “Gateway To The West Days” every June. You can’t see the “west” from there but my hometown is the gateway to it. I guess.  Since it sits on the Missouri River I guess that makes sense that to a person in a covered wagon you were in the west once you crossed the river.  There’s a car show and a craft fair and they block off streets and set up a carnival midway. Lots of fun.

The small town where my son attends college has “Fur Trade Days” every summer.  Evidently there were fur traders there once.

The most unique by far, however, is the annual celebration held in Wayne, NE.  Wayne is a small town located about 30 miles from where I live.  I went to the state college there and my husband was employed by the same college until just recently.  But we don’t live there.  Just want to make that clear.  Every July Wayne hosts the “National Chicken Show” during Wayne Chicken Days.   What is a chicken show you ask?  Well it is a weekend centered around chickens of course.  I would like to insert here that I grew up on a farm and we had chickens.  I don’t believe that chickens are deserving of their own hour much less a whole weekend, but who am I?  If they want to celebrate stupid dirty pecking fowl far be it from me.  Anyway….during the chicken show they have a wing eating contest (which seems a bit cruel to me) and a hard boiled egg eating contests. (again – harsh??) There are games involving eggs. There is a chicken flying contest (nothing like shooting a chicken out of a mail box) and contests for the best “drumsticks” and best chicken hat. (yes….seriously.)  The big event though is the National Cluck Off. Check out last year’s winner here.  Yes that really is a grown man clucking and flapping like a chicken.  Great fun for all.  This year’s festivities were this past weekend. I had forgotten about Chicken Days until a friend posted this picture from the Chicken Days Parade:

Very festive and on theme….and scary. I guess the paper bags are for more than just making you look like a chicken.

So next time you are in Nebraska during road construction season be sure to check the area for any local celebrations.  You never know what you might be missing.  As for me I’m marking my calendar for the last weekend of July when another small town nearby, Tilden, holds their “Prairie Days”.  I wouldn’t want to miss the official cow chip throwing contest or the “Drag Your Nag” event.  You guessed it: an obstacle course you must complete while carrying your wife on your shoulders. Yes. Seriously.

There is no place like small town Nebraska!


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