Story by Robyn Scherer, M.AgR.
Photos courtesy of George Hipple

One of the largest events in Western Nebraska is currently taking place in North Platte. NEBRASKAland DAYS, a celebration of the state of Nebraska and its heritage, is held from June 9-23. The celebration includes parades, rodeos, concerts, food events, art shows and more.

Throughout the 15-day event, more than 100,000 people will attend the events. Through the first half of the celebration, guests were treated to the opening ceremony, the Sandhills Chili Cook-off, a competitive art show, the Lincoln County Raceway Stock Car Race, an all male cake bake, PRCA Buffalo Bill Rodeos, the flap jack feed, and an antique and classic car parade.

The PRCA Buffalo Bill Rodeo is considered as the oldest rodeo in existence, and first took place in 1882.

“Attendance this year is fantastic. We have a lot of people. Rodeo attendance was up, and we expect that to continue,” said Lance Carlson, President of the Board of Directors for the event.

The Miss Rodeo and Miss Teen Rodeo Nebraska contest also took place during the first half of the celebration. The horsemanship competition was held on June 10, where contestants showed off their horsemanship abilities and knowledge for a panel of judges. That evening, the horsemanship barbeque and live auction took place.

The style show was held on June 12, where contestants, out-of-state queens and area queens modeled. The queen contestants answered impromptu questions, and the teen contestants gave speeches.

On Wednesday, June 13, the Miss Teen Rodeo coronation and queen contestant speeches took place. Karlie Osborne from Paxton, Neb., took home the title. The 15-year-old daughter of Bill and Laura Osborne attends Paxton Consolidated Schools where her activities include sports, rodeo, choir, youth group, academic quiz bowl, FPS, Science Olympiad, Speech, FFA and 4-H. Her career goal is to be the head anchor of a news network and attain a degree in Agricultural Journalism.

That evening, the Miss Rodeo Nebraska coronation took place at the Buffalo Bill Rodeo. Samantha Anne Chytka, 23, the daughter of Ron and Sheri Chytka of Broken Bow, Neb., took home the crown. She is a graduate of Hastings College majoring in Human Services Administration with a Minor in Psychology. While attending college she was a 4-year member of the Hastings College Rodeo Team, and has been team captain. She is a member of PsiChi, an Honor Psych Club. Her career goal is to become an Animal Assisted Therapist and operate her own business.

The second half of the celebration will feature many more events and festivities. The annual parade is held on June 16. That evening, the Buffalo Bill Rodeo will hold its finals night, and a pavilion dance will be held after the rodeo.

On Sunday, the Gail Wicks Memorial Girls Softball Tournament will be held, as well as the junior rodeo. Team sorting will be held later in the afternoon.

On Tuesday, June 19, mutton bustin’ and the demolition derby will be held. The next day, Wednesday, the KX 104 Texaco Country Showdown will take place.

Thursday, June 21 will feature the Wild West microFest and the RETRO concert. Friday, June 22 will feature country music star Toby Keith with Brantley Gilbert, and the final day, June 23, will feature Daughtry.

The complex where the event is held underwent a renovation this year, with a new grand entryway, updated ticket booth and fencing, and a pavilion style main gate with bricks that feature the names of the donors.

The new Wild West Arena West Entry was unveiled on June 5 during a North Platte Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting. The project cost $130,000, and was funded by a $11,850 grant from the Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a $5,000 grant from the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation, and through hundreds of donors who bought bricks, which form the walkway under the entry.

“Everyone loves it and it created more space for vendors as well. We raised the money for it in two months, and are very thankful to the donors,” said Carlson.

NEBRASKAland DAYS Officials announced that the Brown County Community has been named the NEBRASKAland DAYS Community Of the Year. The designation allows residents to attend most major NEBRASKAland DAYS events at no charge. Ainsworth becomes the fifth Community of the year, following Wahoo, West Point, Central City, and Hemingford.

“We’re pleased to invite the good folks of Ainsworth down to sample NEBRASKA’s Official State Celebration,” said Executive Director David Fudge. “We think once people see what we have to offer, they’ll become lifelong fans.”

Carlson wanted to thank the Board of Directors for their help. “I want to give a big thanks to all of the board, and especially the other outgoing directors, Jan Wright and Duane McClain,” he said.

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