Dear Nebraska Neighbors:
With the onset of fall comes another opportunity to get out and experience the natural beauty of Nebraska. While New England is a popular destination for tourists this time of year, I am confident Nebraska offers equally impressive sights in combination with fall festivals in communities that are ready to celebrate the change of seasons.
There are quite literally hundreds of activities and events taking place this fall. Whether you enjoy craft shows and flea markets, rodeos, festivals, concerts and exhibits, or the history presented at more than 150 museums across the state; this is a great time of year to visit a favorite stop along Nebraska's scenic byways or explore something entirely new.
Southeast Nebraska offers some incredible views along the Missouri River. A drive along Highway 75, stopping at Fontenelle Forest near Bellevue and headed south towards Brownville presents many opportunities to see scenic landscapes. An abundance of apple orchards ready for harvest in this part of the state make an easy destination for a day-trip along the river.
The first of several living history demonstrations taking place this fall begin at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park on September 26, and run each weekend through October 17. Grand Island hosts the Harvest of Harmony parade on October 2 while demonstrations run through out the weekend at Fort Calhoun and Elmwood's "Rim of the Prairie Day."
The Nebraska Country Music Festival comes to Hastings and Valentine will host the Old West Days and Cowboy Poetry Gathering in mid-October. Harvest celebrations continue in Gage County with a festival held in an authentic old-stone barn. Oktoberfest celebrations are planned in Sidney as well as Omaha; and families can experience the fun of Halloween with haunted hayrack rides and more during Haunted Hollow in Scotia and at both Ponca State Park and Indian Cave State Park in Shubert. Norfolk boasts its local pumpkin patch is great entertainment for kids with mazes, as well as a train, tree house and racetrack.
On the lighter side, Chadron will once again stage the World Famous Ugly Pickup Parade and Competition on October 29 in honor of a Nebraska icon - the farm truck.
Fall's mild weather makes for excellent golf on Nebraska's many lush courses, including Wild Horse Golf Club, a public course near Gotthenburg, which is one of the top-ranked modern courses in the U.S. And whether you prefer the comfort of a cabin or the experience of 'roughing it,' camping opportunities continue into fall at Chadron, Niobrara and Platte River State Parks to name a few.
Finally, if you missed out on the many Lewis and Clark events of summer, you still have a chance to learn more about their historic travels at the visitor's and education center at Ponca State Park or the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trails and Visitors Center in Nebraska City.
The opportunities to be a tourist in search of a bit of history or experience the range of landscapes and events this state has to offer are indeed extensive. I invite all Nebraskans to get out and enjoy this time of year by exploring the endless possibilities of our "Nebraska United."
To search for travel and event information or to plan a trip, log onto the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism website at www.visitnebraska.org