July/August 2019



Dean Slader has been a blacksmith for more than 40 years. He shares his skills at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park.

AJ Dahm

That blacksmith is Dean Slader of Valley, a volunteer at Fort Atkinson State Historical Park for more than three decades. Our 10-page feature, “Modern Day Memories at Fort Atkinson,” includes Slader and his volunteers reenacting the past for the benefit of future generations. Founded in 1819, Fort Atkinson was the first fort in the United States west of the Missouri River. Local residents began rebuilding it in the 1960s, and the fort today (in the community of Fort Calhoun) comes to life during living history weekends spring, summer and fall. Our new story about this old fort begins on page 32.

A few miles downstream from Fort Atkinson, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo builds on its reputation as the “World’s Best Zoo” with our 8-page feature, “Henry’s Hot Spots: Favorite summer stops at the Henry Doorly Zoo.” With photographs by Jeremy Buss, this countdown of nine zoo destinations includes brand new exhibits and classic favorites like the Lied Jungle, Desert Dome and the Scott Aquarium. We hope you will read our story and them embark on your own Omaha Zoo tour.

Wildlife of a different kind goes round and round in Beatrice. In “Summer Thunder: Hot laps and heats drive fans to Beatrice Speedway, “we explore Beatrice’s 3/8-mile clay oval track at the Gage County Fairgrounds. While there we meet rabid race fans, passionate pit crews and dedicated drivers, and get in line for fried chicken gizzards at Beatrice Speedway’s three concession stands where they serve up 400 pounds every race night. Our 8-page race to the finish line begins on page 54, and everyone is a winner.

Freelance writer Nina Buck scored a bushel basket of homegrown goodness while working on her story, “Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm: Old Schuyler farm family keeps it fresh with new ideas.”  For more than 160 years the Theilen family has been plowing, sowing and reaping the harvest of ancestors who came before them, as each generation has learned that producing produce alongside family produces the best harvests of all.

Western Nebraska is a landscape unlike the entire rest of Nebraska. It is a land where the cowboy way is everyday life, where tall pine forests grow from rocky ridges, and where history and scenery abound. Nebraska’s best photographers team up for the 8-page, “A Peek at the Panhandle: Nebraska’s western rectangle has unique culture of its own,” a photo essay of some of Nebraska’s most recognizable landmarks shot from angles many Nebraskans have never seen. From Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff, to back roads and Fort Robinson, this snapshot of the Panhandle overflows with Western beauty.

While we are in the western part of Nebraska, stopping at Bridgeport for the annual Greek Festival is a no-brainer. As the famous Athenian Dancers do their thing during this fundraiser for Bayard’s Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, we slide up to the community table for hummus, tomato orzo pasta and baklava. Those generous Panhandle Greeks share recipes, but to find out what koulourakia is, you’ll have to check out page 46 for our latest installment of Nebraska Kitchens.

Got an insatiable appetite for the Platte River like Nebraska filmmakers Michael Forsberg and Michael Farrell? Hundreds of miles in the making, this braided prairie river has many stories to tell, but until recently, most of what the Platte was doing was unknown. Thanks to Forsberg’s and Farrell’s Platte Basin Timelapse project, dozens of cameras (including in Colorado and Wyoming) are now capturing images of this living river every daylight hour. More than 2 million images have been compiled so far, and we have included the very best ones in our 10-page story, “Platte Basin Timelapse: Cameras capture 900-mile-long story.”   

Plus, the July/August issue of Nebraska Life explores the story of Herb Shirmer’s 1967 Ashland UFO encounter by toasting a new brew dedicated to the event, and keys you in to the Old Market’s typewriter poet. Also, in our Flat Water News department is the story of Nebraska’s contribution to music history and biggest one hit wonder ever, and we catch up to Kearney’s immovable oxen. In our Nebraska Traveler section, we cool off in Nebraska’s oldest public pool and fly high over the Panhandle in hot air balloons before taking a float down the Elkhorn River from Norfolk and bucking on over to Burwell for rodeo action. Our Park Spotlight aims this issue for Barnett Park in McCook, and there’s lots to see and do in our calendar of events.

Give us a call at 800-777-6159 to share the very best of Nebraska with your friends, family and co-workers. You can also subscribe by clicking the subscriptions tab above.

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