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Local museums celebrate the season
December 01, 2011 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis

Photos by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen The Questers number 1346 group used a wedding photography theme using historical props from the Downey’s Fine Photography Studio for their tree decorations.

This Saturday is a great opportunity to visit Gering and get into the spirit of the season as several of the city’s venues are welcoming the public for the holidays.

The annual High Plains Christmas is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Farm And Ranch Museum (FARM), just west of Gering on Old Oregon Trail.

Nancy Haney, media coordinator for FARM, said Bonnie Cawiezel, one of their members, came up with the idea to do something during the winter to publicize the museum and its mission.

“This works will in a cooperative effort with Gering’s other museums,” Haney said. “There are lots of things for the entire family to do that day. In the past, it’s been very successful as lots of people turn out.”

Outside, a campfire will be burning to serve cowboy coffee and kids will have to opportunity to toast marshmallows. There will also be horse-drawn hayrides.

Inside the museum lobby, crafters from around the area will be set up to display and sell unique, handmade country gifts. And the FARM gift shop also has a new selection of gift items.

Starting at 11 a.m., FARM volunteers will be serving lunch with a choice of ham and beans, vegetable or mixed bean soup, along with homemade bread, brownies and as drink for $5. There will also be a hot dog special for $3. Haney said people should come early, as they usually run out of food each year.

For the first time this year, students from the Western Nebraska Community College vocal music program will provide entertainment from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., featuring the traditional songs of Christmas.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our WNCC students to see the history of our agricultural background firsthand,” said Rita Stinner, director of the college’s vocal music program. “We hope to add a festive note to the event. It’s a perfect holiday outing for the entire family.”

Kids will enjoy making pinecone bird feeders during the event and they’ll be able to write a letter to Santa. Letters will be delivered on horseback by a Pony Express rider to Santa at Santa’s Village at the Gering Civic Center.

A festive “forest” is also springing up at the North Platte Valley Museum at 11th and J Streets. The eighth annual “Trees Along the Trail” Christmas tree contest officially kicks off Dec. 3.

About 20 local non-profit organizations and service clubs have set up Christmas trees in the museum gallery and decorated them in their own unique way.

On Saturday from 1 – 4 p.m., visitors can enjoy cookies, hot cider and coffee while they look over the Christmas tree display.
Voting for the favorite tree runs through Dec. 23 and votes are $1 each, with proceeds going to support both the museum and the service organizations. The top three trees also earn prizes of $100, $50 and $25 from H&R Block.

Museum hours during December are Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 – 4 p.m. Admission is free during the Christmas tree contest.

Scotts Bluff National Monument is also hosting its open house on Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. “Christmas on the Prairie” is an interpretive event for children, which will retell what the lives of soldiers and pioneers might have been like in the mid-1800s.

Children will be able to make decorations using traditional materials such as pinecones, wood blocks, paper and popcorn.
Dough ornaments will be available to paint and children are encouraged to come dressed in period costume.

Refreshments will be provided by the Oregon Trail Museum Association, the monument’s non-profit partner organization. The Village Players will be providing live music as well.

The association, which runs the bookstore at the monument visitor center, is offering a 15 percent discount on all merchandise for the weekend. Many unique gift items, such as books and holiday ornaments, will be available.

Dec. 3 is a free day at the monument, so regular entrance fees will not be charged.

“The open house is an opportunity for all visitors and area residents to informally talk with monument staff and enjoy the National Monument during the holiday season,” said Superintendent Ken Mabery.
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