A casual night out tasting Nebraska wines, beers and whiskey with delicious food and a fun program on the side. What's not to like?
The Gothenburg Chamber of Commerce Ag Committee will host its 15th annual Beef, Wine & More from 6-9 pm on Saturday, Aug. 10 at the NSG Conference Center. The event raises funds for an AFA scholarship that our local committee awards to a graduating senior planning to pursue a degree in an ag-related field. The committee has been giving this scholarship since 1984. Beef & Wine became a way to fund it 20 years later.
The 2019 event will be a little different than in years past, so you won't be able to use the excuse that you've "been there, done that."
Beef & Wine used to be a dress-up affair where you might have been expected to sniff and swirl your wine before gulping it down. Adding beer and whiskey to the tasting options has encouraged us to become a whole lot more laid back. Come as you are. We won't judge.
You're still going to get wine poured by Nebraska vendors, including one winery visiting Gothenburg for the first time. Niobrara Valley Vineyard from Nenzel joins 3 Brothers and Mac's Creek this year. Mac's Creek has also added a brewery to their lovely place north of Lexington, so they'll be bringing a couple of different beers to sample. Other breweries will be Pals from North Platte and Kinkaider from Broken Bow. And then there's the ever-popular Lazy RW Distillery folks with a new product you don't want to miss.
We're also serving Nebraska beef and pork again with lots of sides, but in a more casual "meat and mingle" style. It won't be a sit-down, banquet meal, but if you don't get full it will be your own fault.
Committee members are collecting a variety of auction prizes that our resident entertainer/auctioneer Wendell Brott will encourage you to buy. And we're bringing back the raffle number board, but this year there will only be 75 numbers and you get to choose the ones you want. Some numbers come with equivalent cash, others will cost you the equivalent dollar amount. Then you put your tickets in the bucket for the item you hope to win, including a hefty wad of cold hard cash!
There are a couple of new elements too. We're adding a wine cork pull and a dessert dash. You'll have to reserve your tickets to see what that belly laugh is all about.
Sponsorships are available right up until the event but if you want the benefit of publicity for your money, you'll want to commit to sponsoring by Aug. 2. Each sponsorship level gets tickets to the event — the more money you give the more tickets you get. Tickets will also be sold to the public without sponsorships for $30 each. Each event ticket gets you five wine, beer or whiskey samples, with an option to purchase more.
There's no pressure to play the raffle or buy an auction item (unless maybe Wendell has some blackmail material on you), so you can just come eat and drink and socialize. But the items are so good and the games are so much fun that we're sure you'll want to get involved. This is a great last blast before school starts, so bring your friends.
If you have questions or you want to reserve your tickets, don't hesitate to call the Chamber office at 537-3505.
Click HERE to download a sponsorship form.
Here we are again, Gothenburg friends, finding ourselves wanting to complain about a few slimy and bumpy spots on the dirt road home or a wet area around the drain in the basement laundry room that won't go away. Yes, our gardens are drenched. Yes, our crops seem to be a little behind the average for this time of year. And yes, your kids probably didn't get to play all of the summer league baseball they were scheduled for.
But take a quick look toward the east. And not too far east at that.
Some of our county neighbors in Cozad and Lexington will be pumping water for days and businesses have had to close, at least temporarily, because their buildings have so much water damage.
And then there's Kearney, Gibbon, Shelton and Wood River. Three days after the torrential downpour, water continues to rise in many of these cities. Folks have been washed out of their homes and their businesses, using boats to get around city streets. It will take weeks, even months, to recover ... if they recover at all. For some in Gibbon and Wood River, this is the second time in just a few short months they've watched as their livelihoods floated away.
In Gothenburg, we've thankfully been spared from the worst of it both times — in March and again this month. No doubt there have been some inconveniences here and some questionable moments, but we have so much to be grateful for.
If you have the time and resources, offer a helping hand to our neighbors in need. If not, kind words and prayers cost you nothing. Remember, there's always, always, always something to be grateful for.
What do you do when you achieve a goal you worked really hard for? You celebrate, right? The All-America City Award achieved by Gothenburg is a big deal, and not just for the team that went to Denver for the competition. It's a big deal for this entire community. So we're going to celebrate.
Some board members from Gothenburg Improvement Company — which sponsored the All-America City application, by the way — are planning a party for everyone in Gothenburg. Of course there will be free food at the YMCA from 5-7 pm of Thursday, July 11. What would a party be without food? And there will be fun stuff for the kids to do like jump until their hearts are content in a bounce house or climb through an obstacle course in the gym.
Most, if not all, of our delegation to Denver will be on hand to share their experiences. The video of our presentation will be playing in the Larry Gill Board Room, with delegates available to answer questions. And we'll have a couple of special guests. Our own Sen. Matt Williams, who represents District 36 in the Nebraska Legislature, will give some remarks, as will Lt. Gov. Mike Foley.
The YMCA is the perfect spot for this celebration since it was central to the All-America City Award presentation for the theme, "Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement." The application and presentation also highlighted the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition and our city's food initiatives such as the Backpack Program, Lunch Buddies, Shares and the Senior Center meals. All of those projects are undeniably worth celebrating. But that's not all that makes our city All-American.
We have an outstanding hospital with top-notch providers, a school system that is used as a model throughout the state and two local banks that are premier when it comes to community involvement and support. We have three Fortune 500 companies located here as well as small business owners who believe in the future of Gothenburg.
There are Gothenburg graduates who have gone away and come back because the culture of our community makes them want to raise their families here. We have folks who landed here because of a job many years ago and have adopted Gothenburg as their forever home. There are beautiful houses, expanding businesses, lovely parks and a municipality that cares about them all.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. This All-America City Award is not just about three projects. It's not about the 22 people who went to Denver. It's not about a plaque or a banner or a sign. It's about every single person in this town who makes up a piece of the bigger puzzle we call Gothenburg. And it's about The Gothenburg Way.
If you haven't seen the photos or watched the videos of Gothenburg's All-American City presentation and award acceptance in Denver over the weekend, you're missing out. (And where have you been, by the way?)
The hours of preparation for the application and presentation, the teamwork used to craft just the right message and the time, energy and effort that each member of our delegation put in has paid off in a big, BIG way. This national stamp of approval is sure to affect Gothenburg not just in 2019 but certainly in the years to come.
I would be lying if I said earning an All-American City Award was easy. Gothenburg was up against cities many, many times larger than we are. For instance, the Lancaster, Texas, delegation had more people than Gothenburg High School's 2019 graduating class, and they all wore matching T-shirts, a different color each day of the three-day conference. Talk about intimidating. Edinburg, Texas, brought a full mariachi band with dancers, along with costumed participants representing their various cultural celebrations. We wore plain red polo shirts and quietly carried black and white posters.
In the end, though, it wasn't about the song and dance or drum line or elaborate dress. It wasn't about the size of the delegation or the size of the city. It was about the message and the accomplishments and the way the projects fit the theme, "Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement."
The judges referred to Gothenburg as "small but mighty." Fellow participants in round-table discussions seemed amazed at what Gothenburg has accomplished with such a small population. The judge who presented our award called Gothenburg a "small community that reaches big goals." If they only knew ...
The new YMCA at Gothenburg Health, the food access initiatives and the Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition are just the tip of the iceberg of the collaborative, community-minded work going on in our city every day. Young people, old people, retired residents, working mothers, high school students, wealthy homeowners, new parents struggling to survive — they all come to the table and they all get heard. Everyone is important and everyone matters, no matter what the cause. All means all. It's "The Gothenburg Way."
I encourage everyone to take advantage of this All-American City Award. Use it when you're promoting your business or organization. Tell your friends and family about it when they ask why you choose to live in our small town. Talk about it to folks who might be looking to move their family or business here.
Defined by Miriam-Webster, All-American means "selected as one of the best in the U.S. in a particular category at a particular time."
Gothenburg IS an All-American City. Now the rest of the nation knows it too.
Click HERE the presentation video.
Click HERE to see the crowd reaction when Gothenburg's award was announced.
Click HERE to read the National Civic League's press release about winners.
Well, here we go!
Most of the 22-member delegation for the All-American City competition will leave Gothenburg today headed for Denver. Gothenburg joins 19 other cities in the running for an All-American City Award from the National Civic League. But what does that mean?
Back in March, a committee from the Gothenburg Improvement Company (GIC) board of directors submitted an application to the National Civic League for the All-American City Award under the theme, "Creating Healthy Communities Through Inclusive Civic Engagement." Isn't that what Gothenburg does all the time? We chose three local projects to highlight how Gothenburg comes together for the good of all: The Gothenburg Early Childhood Learning Coalition, local food initiatives such as the BackPack Program and Lunch Buddies, and the YMCA at Gothenburg Health with hospital expansion. All three of those have taken the support from the entire community to accomplish.
We know Gothenburg is awesome. But being a tiny town in central Nebraska, we didn't have huge hopes of making it to the finalist round. After all, we were up against some of the biggest cities in the nation. But the call came just before 5 pm on a Friday afternoon that Gothenburg had been chosen as one of 20 finalists! Today, the GIC committee and a group of community folks are cruising to Denver to strut our stuff!
The first question most people ask me is, "What do you get out of it?"
Being selected as one of the Finalists indicates that the National Civic League recognizes our community as a model for the rest of the country. Gothenburg obviously works collaboratively with stakeholders and has demonstrated an ability to overcome challenges. The All-American City Award is similar to a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. It is the most prestigious civic award in the country and proves leadership, stability and drive.
So ... what do we get?
We get nationwide publicity for our city. We get a chance to showcase our community to businesses across the country. We get to use that "seal of approval" when applying for grants. We could see a rise in the number of tourists and new residents.
But above all, we get a sense of accomplishment, teamwork and pride knowing Gothenburg is one of the top 20 cities in the U.S. when it comes to collaboratively and inclusively meeting challenges head-on.
It's been a lot of work preparing for this finalist competition. This delegation of folks have given up work time and free time to pull this together "The Gothenburg Way." Want to see the competition? You can watch the Gothenburg presentation live streamed on the internet at https://www.nationalcivicleague.org/america-city-award/about-the-event/
One of our young delegates will also be competing for an All-American City Youth Award. Heath Keiser, a GHS junior, was selected by school leaders to represent Gothenburg in this competition because he exemplifies what the All-American City Award is all about: impact, inclusiveness, innovation, collaboration and civic engagement.
We're going to Denver with every intention of coming home Sunday night as one of the 10 winners with a youth award in tow. Cheer us on, please, and be sure to thank those involved for their time and efforts:
June & John Venteicher
Chiara & Ashlyn Richeson
Mayor Joyce Hudson
Abraham & Alexavia Mendez
When tragedy hits a small town in middle American, one of two things typically happens: Folks will either pull together for the good of all or they will divide themselves in anger. There's no question the route Gothenburg people have chosen to take following the heartbreaking death of our Officer Jill Larson McCandless.
There isn't a person in this community that hasn't been affected by Officer 071. Jill grew up here, she raised her children here, she worked here and she served here. She knew the kids and visited both Dudley Elementary and Gothenburg High School frequently. She new the adults and where everyone lives and works, calling nearly everyone she came in contact with by name. She knew the senior citizens, checking on those who live alone and never hesitating to offer a helping hand.
Whether you drove a little too quickly up Lake Avenue and had to chat with her in that professional capacity or you saw her in the grocery store aisle after a shift, Jill offered a smile, a hello and a huge heart.
Jill was highly respected as an officer, often referred to as one of the best Gothenburg has ever had. She also earned a tremendous amount of respect as a daughter, mother, grandmother and friend. She exemplified "The Gothenburg Way," and that shows through the number of lovely tributes that have been offered to her this week.
Jill's death leaves an incredible hole in our community. If there's one thing we can all do to honor Officer 071, it is to give each other the same kind of compassion and respect Jill modeled for us every day.
Rest in peace Officer 071.
Funeral services for Jill will be in the north gym at Gothenburg Public Schools at 10 am on Saturday, June 15.
The Chamber office got a dandy new piece of artwork last week. If you've driven downtown, you've likely seen the barn quilt in the south window of the building here on the corner.
The barn quilt movement began on an Ohio farm in the early 2000's as Donna Sue Groves painted the first block to celebrate her mother, Maxine. She didn't know her artwork would eventually lead to a cross-country adventure, but that's essentially what has happened. Barn quilts have become the fastest growing grassroots art movement across the U.S. and Canada. Dawson County jumped into the barn quilt craze about three years ago, building a tour right here in Central Nebraska. There are well over 100 barn quilts mapped on the Barn Quilts of Dawson County website and lots of folks from other states plan their back-roads trips to see them all.
Just like traditional fabric quilts, barn quilt blocks each have their own unique story. They tie to an individual's interests or family heritage and some represent the significance of a business or a location.
The barn quilt in the Chamber window has a story too. The basic pattern is called the Swedish Weathervane. The Swedish part of the name makes an obvious choice for a quilt block in Gothenburg. Our city's settlers and our far-off friends in our sister city in Sweden would surely appreciate the reference. As for the weathervane design, the half-square triangles are similar to the points on a compass. Each point in the weathervane block symbolizes a different direction, helping you always find your way. The Chamber office is kind of the same thing ... a central spot for visitors and residents, as well as the best connecting point to get you where you're going.
Our barn quilt was painted by retired Chamber director Anne Anderson, who still serves on the Chamber's Ambassadors and the tourism committee. She is working on others that will hang around town. If you're interested in having one of your own, she may be able to help you out. She can also point you toward some classes if you want to try your hand at painting one yourself. If you contact the Chamber office, I can put you in touch.
And don't forget to drop by the Barn Quilts of Dawson County website at barnquiltsdc.com. There are enough beautiful pieces right here in your back yard to plan a day trip checking them out!
It might only be the end of May, but the Chamber has already begun planning for the 2019 Harvest Festival in September. Actually, we started planning last October because these things don't happen over night. And boy do we have a packed weekend in store.
For the past three years, Gothenburg has been the host city for the Nebraska Hand Cornhusking Contest. That is a great event that celebrates our agricultural heritage and helps keep a tiny piece of that history alive. Since Cornhusking involved food vendors and craft vendors and a whole heck of a lot of volunteers organized by the Chamber's ag committee, it didn't seem feasible to duplicate activities in town. So events that residents remember in Ehmen Park were moved to the farm and the park sat relatively silent.
Well guess what ...
Gothenburg's good fortune to host this year's Nebraska AND National Hand Cornhusking Contests is a boon for all! Because the national contest involves nine states and we have to accommodate their state contest schedules, the national corn picking competition has to be in October. That means Cornhusking will break away from Harvest Festival this year.
That's correct. Harvest Festival will be Sept. 19-22 and Cornhusking is Oct. 19-20. That provides Gothenburg the opportunity to whoop it up two months in a row! It also lets us bring some activities back into town, specifically back into Ehemn Park. We still have to get city approval for use of public spaces, so I can't really spill all the beans yet. Just know we're working on a full weekend of activities and we hope everyone will jump on board with support.
Maybe you'll be asked to sponsor or donate. Maybe you have ideas for events you'd like to see. The only way to make these things work is with folks willing to dive in and do it. Our special events committee is made up of first-time festival folks who have already put in many hours of work. They are over-the-top excited to bring a fun weekend to Gothenburg. Keep watching for details ...
And thanks in advance for the support and participation that will make Harvest Festival 2019 the best one yet!
Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching. That means the door to summer is open and waiting, even thought it might not feel like it outside. Folks will plan family gatherings this weekend with barbecues running full blast, the fridge stocked and enough wood on standby to have a campfire for three days.
But while you're enjoying your three-day weekend, please take a minute or two to remember the reason we get this Monday off. Our freedom to celebrate certainly was not free.
Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day originated after the Civil War as a way to honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. The Civil War claimed so many lives that the country's first national cemeteries were established to accommodate the fallen. By the late 1860s, Americans began a springtime tradition of decorating those soldiers' graves and paying tribute to their service. In 1968, May 30 was designated as Decoration Day. On that first Decoration Day, 5,000 people decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and the tradition began. Originally meant to honor those who died during the Civil War, the holiday evolved as the nation fought more wars and lost more soldiers.
Decoration Day continued annually on May 30 until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which named Memorial Day, placed it on the last Monday in May and created a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change officially went into effect in 1971.
If you've never visited a national cemetery over the Memorial Day weekend, take some time and make a quick trip to Fort McPherson. It's our own little version of Arlington, right down the road. The flags, the flowers and the feeling cannot be compared. Even if you don't have a loved one buried there, it's worth the time to pause and give thanks to those who so bravely served so we may be free today.
There's also an opportunity to pay your respects to our fallen soldiers at the Gothenburg Cemetery at 10 am on Monday. The American Legion Post 64 and local Veterans of Foreign Wars will host a Memorial Day ceremony, complete with Color Guard and "TAPS."
Our country's fallen soldier deserve our respect. Make sure your weekend includes that.
Anyone who has called the Chamber of Commerce or stopped by the corner office in the last couple of weeks has found either a voicemail or a locked door. With an office of one, when family matters dictate, the lights stay off.
You see, I spent last week plus working from home while caring for my mother in the final days before she earned her angel wings. Mom had cancer ... twice. She thought she beat breast cancer the first time around and lived cancer free for about three years. Then this second round hit about seven months ago and she decided not to do treatments. She entered the hospice program toward the end of March. She came from Indianola to live with me on April 9.
I have always respected folks in the health care industry. It was not my calling, so I admire those able to do it day after day. Now I have an all new appreciation for a different set of caregivers, from the nurse who works as part of the hospice team to the bath aide and the guy who delivers the medical equipment. They come into homes as strangers and leave as family members. No matter how much we attempt to prepare for it, losing our parents is never easy. These folks do everything they can to ease the pain.
I am forever grateful to everyone who has offered patience while I was away from work and especially those who have freely given moral support to me and my family over the past few weeks. This is an amazing community and I appreciate all of the kind words and precious prayers.
We'll be back in the swing of things soon...
Laura A. Miller, 79, of Indianola, Nebraska, formerly of Scottsbluff, NE, died May 7, 2019, at her daughter's home in Brady, NE.
She was born October 24, 1939, in North Platte, NE, daughter of Merwin Barfoot and Ima (Callahan) Barfoot Roberts.
Laura moved from North Platte as a child to Scottsbluff. She graduated from Scottsbluff High with the class of 1957. She later got her associates degree in accounting from Western Nebraska Community College. She lived in Nebraska, Texas and Kansas. Laura enjoyed creating things with her hands, sewing and quilting. She also loved her pets and gardening.
Surviving are daughter, Deb (Buck) Egenberger of Brady, NE; daughter, Jennifer Johnson of Indianola, NE; son, Jim (Deb) Huber of Garden City, KS; son, Joe Huber of Maine; sister, Myrna Cassel of Brackettville, TX; brother, David Barfoot of Brackettville, TX; brother, Bryan Barfoot of Texas; seven grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Laura was preceded in death by father, Merwin Barfoot; mother, Ima Roberts; brother, Fredrick Barfoot; brother, Edward Barfoot; and granddaughter, Jessica Huber.
Memorials are suggested to the family and will be donated to a charity to be chosen later.