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The natural beauty of our great state and its rich cultural heritage have made Nebraska a truly special place. As Governor, I always tell people that I have the best job in the world because our state is the greatest place in the world to live, work, and raise a family. One of the favorite parts of my job as Governor is traveling the state, experiencing its natural beauty and our cultural heritage, and listening to your stories and those of all Nebraskans.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, I have been traveling the state recently as a part of a town hall tour so that I can listen to Nebraskans. Along the way, I have also been able to join some of the numerous celebrations and festivals that are long-standing traditions in almost every Nebraska community. From Native Omahans Days in North Omaha to Wilber Czech Days, communities across our state have developed their own unique celebrations as a way to preserve their history, share their cultural identity or put their own spin on a traditional holiday. These events bring us together as Nebraskans and serve as an important economic development tool for communities both large and small.
After I hosted town halls in Wayne and Laurel two weeks ago, I had the honor of attending and speaking at the 149th Annual Homecoming Celebration of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, also known as the Winnebago Veteran’s Pow-Wow. This is the oldest continuous pow-wow in the nation, and attracts thousands of people from across the nation and around the world. The drive through the hills around Winnebago and Macy is one of the most beautiful in the state, especially during the summer when the crops are deep green. The festivities began with a performance of the Lord’s Prayer and a Grand March full of musical and dance performances from talented performers of all ages.
Later that same week, Susanne and I packed up the family and drove to Burwell for Nebraska’s Big Rodeo. Around 15,000-20,000 people attend the rodeo in this town of about 1,200 creating an estimated economic impact of $750,000! At the rodeo, I had the honor of presenting the Grand Marshall Award.
One of my personal favorite annual traditions is the Fourth of July celebration in Seward. Like the events Winnebago and Burwell, this tradition in Seward is deeply rooted in the community’s history dating back to 1868. Over the years, the celebration has grown, and now attracts an estimated 40,000 people annually for festivities that range from a car show to an antique market and its renowned parade, which draws so many thousands that local community members stake out their territory along the route days ahead of time!
I encourage you to consider spending time traveling to new places around our state to explore the endless variety of opportunities. If you need some ideas on where to begin, the Nebraska Tourism Commission offers a great tool to get you started: the Nebraska Passport. The Passport program features a variety of tours you can take across our state that will take you to new and exciting destinations. Visit NebraskaPassport.com for more information. After you visit a new part of the state, I hope that you will share your experiences with your friends and neighbors, and encourage them to explore our state.
As always, you are invited to contact my office at any time with your questions or comments at 402-471-2244 or firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.