The mind behind Kool-Aid and the green thumb behind Arbor Day are just two examples of Nebraska’s innovative nature. Plan a group trip to Nebraska and work one of these fun festivals into your itinerary.
Crane Watch Festival, March 22-31
Central Nebraska’s first sign of spring begins with arrival of the sandhill crane. From February to April, 80% of the world’s sandhill crane population rests on Nebraska’s Platte River in the Kearney area. This 10-day festival has tours dedicated to educational and family-friendly activities.
Arbor Day Celebration, April 26-28
This is the 141st annual celebration of Arbor Day in Nebraska City. Celebrations are held city-wide to commemorate the holiday’s founding in 1872 by local resident J. Sterling Morton. Events include educational activities, a 5K run/walk, plant sale, chili cook-off, a craft show and tours of Morton’s home.
Nebraska Renaissance Faire, May TBA
Held at Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch in Papillion, eastern Nebraska, this family-fun event (2013 date pending) proves to be educational and entertaining. Merchants and jousters provide novelty entertainment while a tavern for adults and specialty shows for children are also featured.
Taste of Omaha, May 31-June 2
Showcasing Nebraska’s best restaurants, this event promises tastes appealing to every palate. Visitors can satisfy their curiosity with Mexican, Italian, Greek, Oriental, Mediterranean and Polish dishes and then top it off with mouth-watering desserts.
www.showofficeonline.com, 402- 346-8003.
Nebraskaland Days, June 8-22
Concerts, rodeos and food are just a few of the many events at Nebraskaland Days in North Platte. The largest event in the western part of the state attracts more than 100,000 people. Country group Lady Antebellum will be the concert’s headliner in 2013. This event has many family-fun activities and celebrates Nebraska’s rich history.
33rd Annual Wayne Chicken Show, July 12-14
Featured events include the National Cluck-Off, World’s Largest Chicken Dance, flea market, chicken cooking contest, children’s games and fireworks. Over 1,000 volunteers from the Wayne community make sure the festival is fun and lively for the whole family, not to mention “cheep.”
92nd Annual Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, July 24-27
This beloved event in Burwell is packed with extraordinary feats and family-friendly activities. It features seven professional rodeo events, livestock exhibits, professional rodeo clowns, trick riders and chuck wagon races. The 40 acres of grounds include one of the world’s largest outdoor rodeo arenas.
Wilber Czech Festival, Aug. 2-4
This free festival has been celebrated for over 50 years in Wilber, the Czech Capital of Nebraska. Czech dancing and music, authentic food and costumes, contests, bands and parades enliven the three-day event. Nebraska has one of the largest Czech-American populations in the nation.
Kool-Aid Days, Aug. 9-11
Edwin Perkins invented Kool-Aid in Hastings, Nebraska in 1927. Before being bought by Kraft in 1931, Kool-Aid’s six original flavors (strawberry, cherry, lemon-lime, grape, orange and raspberry) were manufactured in Hastings. Today, three days a year are dedicated to the drink with parades, car shows, the world’s largest Kool-Aid stand, carnival games and live music.
87th Annual Greek Festival, Aug. 10-11
This festival showcases Greek traditions in the western Nebraska community of Bridgeport. It attracts over 1,000 visitors each year. Embrace Greek culture by eating authentic food and watching traditional dances.
Nebraska State Fair, Aug. 23-Sept. 2
This 11-day fair is held in the heart of Nebraska, in Grand Island. Experience 143 years of tradition by enjoying camel and pony rides, racing pigs, a petting zoo, a tiger show, aerial stunt artists, the unique living vines ballet show, an enormous sand sculpture creation and a comedic Wild West show. That is not even including the concerts, food, parades, marching bands and educational exhibits.
23rd Annual Kite Flight, Aug. 31-Sept. 1
Make your kite soar to daring heights or gaze at professionals making their large kites dance in the sky. In Callaway, central Nebraska, come and watch the sky light up with kites of all colors, shapes, sizes and designs. This event takes place in a town of 600 people, but has attracted people from 21 nations and 27 states through the years.
Nebraska’s Junk Jaunt, Sept. 27-29
Experience the ultimate yard sale during Nebraska’s Junk Jaunt along Highways 2, 11 and 91. The sale stretches 300 miles during the three-day event and attracts over 20,000 people. Find that hidden treasure while exploring over 35 small towns that participate and provide special promotions and sidewalk sales.
For more information on top events in Nebraska, visit www.topeventsusa.com/state-events-nebraska.html or www.visitnebraska.com/component/myplanner/intro.
Crystin Immel is an editorial intern at Premier Tourism Marketing and began in Fall 2012. She is studying at Loyola University Chicago and is pursuing a dual major in Journalism and Political Science.