ASHLAND, Neb. — Mountain lions, bobcats and bears, oh my! Those are just some of the animals that can be seen within Ashland city limits every day.
These animals are a few of the ones that comprise the Archie Hightshoe Big Game Collection housed at the Willow Point Gallery in downtown Ashland.
Hightshoe, a longtime community leader, was also a big game hunter. At the time of his death in 1989, the collection of more than 30 animals was displayed in a room in Hightshoe’s home.
The Hightshoe family wanted the collection to stay in Ashland. Gene Roncka, artist and owner of Willow Point Gallery, offered to house the collection. In turn, the Ashland Area Foundation agreed to pay part of the rent and utilities in the building. Due to the nature of the exhibit, special lighting and temperatures are necessary to maintain the collection.
The gallery depicts the animals amid their natural habitats and includes a waterfall, stream and wishing pond.
Staff at the gallery estimate monthly costs to maintain the display range from $200 to $350. Descendents of the Hightshoe family hold a huge bake sale every summer during the Ashland Stir-Up and donate the proceeds for the upkeep of their father’s passion.
A new fundraiser is underway now to help build up the coffers. Businesses and individuals can adopt an animal from the collection. Twenty-five animals are available for adoption for a year at a time. To date, five animals have been adopted.
People interested in adopting an animal can contact Willow Point Gallery at 402-944-3613.