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Celebration depends on volunteers
July 07, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
It takes a lot of volunteer help to keep an event the size of Oregon Trail Days rolling through the years as it celebrated number 95 this summer. It all starts with the executive committee.

Jody Ruzicka was named as committee chairman at their annual meeting in January, succeeding Bill Schlaepfer, who served as chairman for the past four years.

“We have eight board members,” Ruzicka said. “Each member has responsibility for his or her event, including rounding up their own volunteers. Along with Bill Peters, I do the International Food Fair. Bill Schlaepfer is in charge of the carnival and the chili cook-off, John Ewing heads up the parade and Vera Dulaney does the annual art show.”

Ruzicka said they’re always looking for volunteers to help organize the many events featured during Oregon Trail Days. Interested persons are invited to call the Oregon Trail Days office at 308-436-4457.

“We have a selection committee to elect new executive board members,” she said. “People have to volunteer with an event for at least two years to be considered. I think that in the next couple of years we’ll need to add some board members as we add more events.”

Some of those new events could be ready for the 100th anniversary.

Ruzicka said the executive board meets the last Thursday of every month except December.

Once the actual Oregon Trail Days celebration concluded, board members are busy right away gathering comments from the public, identifying any problems they encountered, and brainstorming solutions to make next year’s event even better.

“People may not realize all the behind the scenes activity that goes on to make this event possible,” she said. “Plus we work with the city for help with police, utilities and a lot of other things we need to do.”

Ruzicka said the board always welcomes public comment. “We talk about all the ideas and comments we receive. We want every celebration to be the best it can possibly be.”
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