Have some fun at Fremont Days (copy)

Community festivals are a big part of life across Nebraska. Here is an image from the annual Fremont Days celebration, held each July. 

This weekend will offer fun-filled festivals and other events across Nebraska, and there’s much more to come over the rest of the summer and into the fall. Nebraska offers a rich variety of opportunities to enjoy community spirit and add to the state’s tourism economy.

Tourism contributes some $4.9 billion to Nebraska’s economy, providing employment to more than 47,000 people and tax revenues of $705 million.

Syracuse, Neb., holds its annual GermanFest on Saturday, with a parade, food, polka band contest, vehicle show, beer garden and, not least, the excitement of dachshund competition in the 10th Annual Viener Dog Races. The same day in Cozad, the community hosts its Bands, Brews and BBQ’s festival, with concerts and a barbecue contest.

Other festivals will offer fun through Sunday. Wayne hosts its spirited annual Chicken Show, with a wide range of activities. Fremont celebrates its hometown heritage with John C. Fremont Days. The Hall County Fair features livestock displays, food and concerts at Fonner Park. Chadron’s downtown is alive with activities for Fur Trade Days. And Gering is revved up for the assortment of activities for Oregon Trail Days, now in its 98th year, the oldest community festival in the state.

Many other events lie ahead in coming weeks across the state. A small sampling: Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in Burwell is set for July 24-27; the Nebraska Star Party near Valentine, July 28-Aug. 2; Czech Days in Wilber, Aug. 2-4; Kool-Aid Days in Hastings, Aug. 9-11; Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island, Aug. 23-Sept. 2; Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Sept. 10-12; and the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Sept. 20-22.

Much more is in store with summer and fall events at Nebraska museums, art galleries, county fairs and rodeos.

It also pays to check out the Nebraska Passport program, which incentivizes tourism visits across the state and includes themed itineraries for a wide range of interests. The 10 categories for 2019 are Beautiful Nebraska; Bite of Nebraska; Family Fun; Happy Hour; History Alive; Nebraska Stories; Not-At-All What You Thought; Quirky Nebraska; Rural Gems; and Shop Nebraska.

The Passport program runs through September and features 70 sites in communities large and small. One of the program’s main benefits is that each year it highlights some lesser-known events, sites or businesses. Visitors collect a free Passport stamp at each site and vie for prizes (no purchase necessary). Last year, more than 50,000 travelers — from 418 Nebraska communities and 46 states — visited Nebraska locations to collect the stamps.

The Nebraska Passport booklets for 2019 can be ordered at http://nebraskapassport.com/tours/requestyourpassport/.

Some of the most-visited sites during 2018 were the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Dairy Store; the Archway in Kearney; Platte Valley Antique Mall, Greenwood; Mahoney State Park, Ashland; Passageway Gallery, Omaha; Gene Roncka Willow Point Gallery, Ashland; Milady Coffeehouse, Fremont; Bottle Rocket Brewing Co., Seward; and Shopping Tripps, Kearney.

From border to border, Nebraska offers a wide variety of tourism fun. It’s a great time to get out and enjoy it.

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