Tag Archives: explore

Seeking Counsel of the Wilderness in Summer

March 16, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Spencer Hawkins has encountered bears 24 times in his life.

One encounter happened when he woke up early to fish. Pausing to change his lure, he says, “something felt wrong. I turned over my shoulder, and from where I had just walked, a grizzly bear was walking into the water right at me.” With nowhere to go in deepening river, Hawkins called out for fellow camper Ben Bissell, who immediately came to the rescue, bedecked in nothing but boots, boxer shorts, and a shotgun. Then, the bear picked up a dead salmon from the riverbank and simply walked away.

The vast expanse of nature can be intimidating for some, but for Hawkins, it is his summer home. In the remaining nine months of the year, Hawkins is a counselor at Andersen Middle School. He enjoys telling his students about his travels, enriching their lives with his stories while imbuing them with a respect for nature and its beasts. 

Hawkins’ thirst for adventure started in college, when he and three friends began traveling to national parks in Utah and Montana to rock climb. One friend wanted to fish in the location of the film, A River Runs Through It, which gave birth to their new pastime. This gave way to a rock climbing trip to Devil’s Tower in northeast Wyoming.

The friends’ first big trip to Alaska was prompted by a friend about to enter medical school. They spent 35 days in the wilderness, relying on nothing but each other and their intuition for survival. Hawkins says, “We were really remote, so we had no help. You couldn’t call on your cellphone, we didn’t have anything that worked, so we just relied on each other, caught and ate a lot of fish, moved camp, got rained on, made a fire, and [moved to a] new camp.” Floating down the river for three weeks, the explorers ate only the plants available and fish they caught, which lead to noticeable weight loss.

Fishing has probably made them more attractive to bears. Once, while Hawkins and his travel companions were sleeping, they heard a rustling outside of their tent, and the sound of something rummaging around the surrounding brush. Hawkins, springing from his tent suddenly, saw a 500-pound black bear that had been rifling through the camper’s equipment take off through the forest, snapping trees in half like they were twigs. Luckily, Hawkins recalls, the bear hadn’t found their inflatable raft full of supplies down at the riverbank, which could have easily been destroyed by the massive beast, stranding them in the Alaskan wilderness with no way to call for help. 

Bears aren’t the only animal Hawkins has seen. While cooking freshly caught fish in the dark one night, Hawkins heard noise coming from the other side of the campsite. He shone a flashlight into the woods, where about 10 pairs of glowing eyes stared back at him from behind the foliage. A pack of wolves had come to investigate the culinary aroma. Following a one-minute stare-down that seemed like ten minutes, the winner of the fish supper was the humans.

Hawkins’ days of asking friends to run after a bear in their underwear may be behind him. These days, his trips tend to be more family-friendly, although he continues to frequent national parks.

“When you are rock climbing you have to focus only on what you are doing and the rocks and trees around you. The worries of the world, your everyday life, you don’t have time to worry about.”

This article was originally printed in the Spring/Summer 2018 edition of Family Guide.

2018 March/April Explore!


Marvelous Maples Through March 10 at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, 611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City. Guests will learn how maple syrup is made and be able to sample sap straight from the tree as well as other popular syrups. The event will end with a campfire and fun tree crafts. Reservations should be made on the website prior to the event. 402-873-8717.

Wings Over the Platte Through April 8 at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, 3133 W. Hwy 34, Grand Island. Tour the only art exhibit dedicated to life on the prairie. The exhibit will feature artwork from Sally Jurgensmier. 308-385-5316.

Rodeo Grand Island March 1-3 at Fonner Park, 700 E. Stolley Park Road, Grand Island. This Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association event features team roping, barrel racing, and Xtreme Bull Riding (Saturday). 308-382-4515.

Gene Coon: From Beatrice, Nebraska, to Star Trek and Beyond March 2-3 at Gage County Museum, 101 N. Second St., Beatrice. Honor the career and life of TV writer and Nebraska native Gene Coon (with featured speaker, author David Gerrold). 402-228-1679.

P!nk March 6 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln. Fans can hear P!nk perform songs from her new album, Beautiful Trauma. 402-904-4444.

Kinky Boots March 9-11 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. This musical features songs from award-winning artist Cyndi Lauper. The production celebrates the joys of friendship and the power of perspective. 402-472-4747.

St. Patrick’s Day Celebration. March 14-17 in downtown O’Neill. Celebrate “The World’s Largest Shamrock” with 7,000 friends in O’Neill. Festivities begin Wednesday with the Irish Walk of Fame and the painting of the town’s beloved shamrock. Other activities include “Getting the Horse Green,” a free concert, music in pubs, Irish dancers, and a Saturday parade. 402-336-2355.

The Irish Tenors March 16 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. This trio has played at Carnegie and Radio City Music halls, and now they are coming to the Lied Center. The Irish Tenors will perform classic Irish tunes with a live orchestra. 402-472-4747.

Roy and Rosemary March 16 at Merryman Performing Arts Center, 225 W. 22nd St., Kearney. Roy and Rosemary have traveled the world playing the violin and piano, respectively. 308-627-2717.

Shamrock Shuffle 5k Walk/Run/Crawl March 17 at Chuckles Bar, 513 4th St., Fairbury. Come dressed up in leprechaun gear and sip on green adult beverages during the race. Stay for the post-race celebration and enjoy live music, giveaways, and food. 402-729-3000.

Let it Be March 20 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. Relive some of the Beatles most iconic moments in this international Broadway production. 402-472-4747.

Audubon’s Nebraska Crane Festival March 22-25. Multiple locations, Kearney. Join the festivities as thousands of Sandhill cranes migrate through Nebraska. Speakers include Richard Beilfuss, president and CEO of the International Crane Foundation. 308-468-5282.

The Grand Comic Con March 23-24 at The Grand Theatre, 316 W. Third St., Grand Island. The opening ceremony for this event will be held at the historic Grand Theatre, with the majority of activities occurring at the Liederkranz Ballroom, located at 401 W. First St. in downtown Grand Island. 308-381-2667.

Lorde March 24 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln. Guests will hear Lorde perform songs from her new album, Melodrama. 402-904-4444.

Foreigner March 31 at Heartland Events Center, 700 E. Stolley Park Road, Grand Island. Catch the ’80s band known for their timeless anthems and sing-along shows. 308-382-4515.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago April 3 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performances are infused with unparalleled creativity and innovation. The performance will feature dance inspired by jazz, modern, ballet, and theatrical styles. 402-472-4747.

She Kills Monsters April 5-8 and 12-15 at Nebraska Wesleyan University’s Miller Theater, 2710 N. 48th St., Lincoln. After the death of her sister, Agnes must learn how to embrace her inner geek and warrior as she seeks refuge in Dungeons and Dragons. 402-465-2384.

Easter Weekend March 26-27 at Arbor Day Farm, 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City. Arbor Day Farm offers an Easter getaway that is sure to become a tradition for many families. The Easter Family Fun Package includes a stay at the Lied Lodge, a trip up the 50-foot tall tree house, and an Easter egg hunt. 402-873-8717.

Monster Jam Triple Threat Series April 13-14 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln. Enjoy the thrill of watching monster truck drivers run over the dirt track at the arena and compete to win first prize. Meet the drivers and see the trucks up close on Saturday at the Pit Party. The Pit Party and main event require separate admission. 402-904-4444.

Adams & Cooley Rat Pack Jazz April 15 at Wood River High School Theater 13800 W. Wood River Road, Wood River. Adams and Cooley will serenade audience members with classic jazz standards from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, and more. 308-583-2606.

The Illusionists April 20-21 at Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. Coming from Broadway, five of the world’s leading illusionists perform together in this exciting and suspenseful production. 402-472-4747.

Motorcycle Show & Swap Meet April 21-22 at AG Park, 822 15th St., Columbus. Ride for a good cause. The Star City Bikers Against Child Abuse will be on hand collecting donations. 605-545-3602.

Brad Paisley April 26 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln. Enjoy Brad Paisley perform his new album as a part of his “Weekend Warrior Tour.” The concert will feature country music guests Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant, and Lindsay Ell. 402-904-4444.

Arbor Day Celebration April 27-29 at Arbor Day Farm, 2611 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City. Celebrate this holiday where it all began at Arbor Day Farm. All across this 260-acre campus, opportunities abound to play, learn, taste, and shop, all in celebration of trees. 402-873-8717.


Gridiron Glory: Pro Football Hall Of Fame Exhibit Through June at Putnam Museum, 1717 W. 12th St., Davenport. The largest traveling exhibition in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s history, the 6,000-square-foot exhibit features hundreds of artifacts—many exhibited for the first time—from the Hall of Fame’s collection, including a 500-square-foot area dedicated to the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. 563-324-1933.

Iowa Deer Classic March 2-4 at Iowa Events Center, 703 Third St., Des Moines. Hunters from far and wide are welcome to join the Iowa Deer Classic. This event features hunting seminars, exhibitors, archery tips, and much more. 319-232-0218.

Momix’s Opus Cactus March 3 at Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. Guests will see iconic landscapes associated with the American Southwest reimagined by illusionistic style dance. 515-246-2300.

Riverdance March 4 at Orpheum Theatre, 528 S. Pierce St., Sioux City. Enjoy an evening of Irish dance and music in this high-energy performance. This event welcomes all age groups. 712-244-5000.

Chicago March 9-11 at Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. See the award-winning musical Chicago brought to life. Guests will see this musical performed with everyone’s favorite songs and dance routines. 515-246-2300.

Miranda Lambert March 15 at Wells Fargo Arena, 233 Center St., Des Moines. See Miranda Lambert perform songs from her new album, The Weight Of These Wings, as a part of her “Livin’ Like Hippies Tour.” 515-564-8000.

Little Big Town March 24 at Tyson Events Center, 401 Gordon Drive, Sioux City. Guests will get to experience Little Big Town perform live as a part of their “The Breakers Tour.” 800-593-2228.

ChildServe’s Bubble Ball April 7 at Iowa Events Center 703 Third St., Des Moines. See models walk the runway in Bubble Wrap fashion created by designers, artists, and creative professionals. Guests are welcome to enjoy a meal, music, and other surprises. 515-564-8000.

Freestyle Wrestling World Cup April 7-8 at Carver Hawkeye Arena, 1 Elliott Drive, Iowa City. Cheer on the best wrestling talent in the world as the top eight qualifying international dual teams step foot into Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Team USA will take on Georgia, Azerbaijan, Japan, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Iran. 319-335-9431.

Les Miserables April 17-22 at Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. Guests will see the classic story of Les Miserables performed with the musical’s most popular songs. The production will feature a new set inspired by Victor Hugo’s paintings. 515-246-2300.

Take a Bite April 20-22 at the Amana Colonies, I-80 Exit 225, Amana. This three-day food fest includes cooking education, hands-on instruction, samplings, and special menu items and dinners at Amana Colonies food businesses. 319-622-7622.

Festival of Cheese April 21 at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. A festival of all things cheese. Sign up for a 30-minute class exploring fondue or cheese boards. Advance ticket purchase suggested. 515-278-5286.

West Side Story April 21-22 at Orpheum Theatre, 528 S. Pierce St., Sioux City. The Sioux City Symphony Orchestra will perform music from West Side Story. The performance will feature choreography with a digitally designed set. 712-244-5000.


Arlo Guthrie, featuring Abe and Sarah Lee Guthrie. March 10 at Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park. Folk legend Arlo Guthrie is coming to Kansas with his children to present the “Re: Generations” tour. 913-469-4445.

2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, First and Second Rounds March 15 and 17 at Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman St, Wichita. Host Wichita State University welcomes teams competing in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament. 855-755-7328.

Kegs ’n’ Eggs April 7 at Kansas City Renaissance Festival, 633 N. 130th St. Bonner Springs. While sipping on craft beers at this adult-only event, guests can hunt for eggs and win prizes at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival grounds. 913-721-2110.

Rigoletto March 3, 7, 9, and 11 at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. Be prepared to shed a tear at Verdi’s masterpiece tale. Sung in Italian with English subtitles. 816-994-7222.

National Geographic Live—Christina Mittermeier: Standing at the Water’s Edge. March 6 at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. Christina Mittermeier, National Geographic photographer, will show photos illustrating the connection between bodies of water and indigenous people groups. 816-994-7222.

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament March 7-10 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. March Madness comes to the Midwest. Watch the best of the Big 12 face off as the race to the Final Four begins. 816-949-7100.

Lady Be Good—Celebrating Women in Jazz March 9 at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. The program will highlight great female practitioners of jazz, with special guests. 816-994-7222.

The Eagles March 19 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Spend An Evening With the Eagles with this classic rock group on their latest tour. 816-949-7100.

2018 NCAA Women’s Basketball Regional March 23 and 25 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Cheer on your preferred team during March Madness. The winner of this tournament will advance to the Final Four. 816-949-7100.

Disney on Ice: Dare to Dream March 28-April 1 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Celebrate what’s possible as the adventures of five daring Disney heroines spark the courage inside everyone. Moana, Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, Belle, and Cinderella make their wishes come true, with some help from their friends. 816-949-7100.

Screenland at the Symphony: Back to the Future April 20 and 21 at Kauffman Center for Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. See this ’80s classic film projected on a large screen and the score performed with a live symphony. 816-994-7222.

Event times and details may change. Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

2017 September/October Explore!

September 1, 2017 by
Photography by contributed

State of Nebraska

Apple Jack Festival in Nebraska City Sept. 15-17.

Apple Jack Festival Sept. 15-17, various locations, Nebraska City. Drawing 60,000-80,000 people to Nebraska City every year, this festival celebrates the beginning of apple harvest. Named one of the Top 10 Fall Harvest Festivals in the United States by USA Today, everything is entirely apple-themed. Apple pie, apple cider, candy apples, caramel apples, apple fritters, and more goodies will be available. 402-873-8757.

Harvest Festival Sept. 16-17, Legacy of the Plains Museum, 2930 Old Oregon Trail, Gering. Now in its 21st year, this event attracts thousands of travelers from throughout Nebraska and neighboring states. There will be a pick-your-own potato patch, demonstrations of antique farm equipment, a corn maze, and more. 308-436-1989.

Annual Ogallala Indian Summer Rendezvous Sept. 21-23, Rendezvous Square, 112 E 2nd St., Ogallala. The 33rd annual event features a chili cook-off, car and bike show, 5K and one-mile run/walk, music, and entertainment. 308-284-4066.

Lincoln Symphony Orchestra presents Joshua Bell & Bruch Sept. 26, Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. Performing composer Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, world-renowned violinist Joshua Bell will join the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra for their season-opening performance. 402-476-2211.

Luke Bryan Sept. 28, Bob Benes Farm, 701 S.W. 63rd St., Lincoln. Billboard’s top country artist in 2016 is bringing his “Farm Tour” to Lancaster County resident Bob Benes’ farm. With special guest Jon Pardi, the show is the first of the ninth year of the tour that brings country music to rural farm fields. No phone number available.

Lincoln Calling Sept. 28-30, various locations, Lincoln. The annual non-profit music festival put on by Hear Nebraska will feature emerging artists as well as some better-known ones, such as headliner Charli XCX. No phone number available.

B-52s at Lied Center for Performing Arts Sept. 30

B-52s Sept. 30, Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. Known for their hit singles “Love Shack,” and “Rock Lobster,” the B-52s have sold over 20 million albums, bringing a party with them to every city they visit. 402-472-4747.

Prairie Loft Harvestfest Oct. 1, Prairie Loft Center for Outdoor & Agricultural Learning, 4705 DLD Road, Hastings. This free annual event celebrates the harvest season in Nebraska, offering kids’ activities and music, a tractor display, hayrack rides, farm animals, food vendors, and more. 402-463-0565.

Trevor Noah Oct. 6, Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. The host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show will perform an evening of stand-up. He was the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on The Late Show with David Letterman and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. 402-472-4747.

Great Pumpkin Festival in Crete Oct. 6-8

Great Pumpkin Festival Oct. 6-8, along Main Street in Crete. Downtown Crete will be packed full of autumn fun. Highlights include hayrack rides, carnival games, food, and the Great Pumpkin Giveaway. 402-826-2136.

Prairie Lights Film Festival Oct. 20-22, The Grand Theatre, 316 W. Third St., Grand Island. This three-day film festival promotes and showcases Nebraskan-made films and encourages networking and public support. This year includes the world premieres of the documentary Prairie Pints and short film The Bagman Died First. 308-381-2667.

Motown the Musical Oct. 21-22, Lied Center for Performing Arts, 301 N. 12th St., Lincoln. This show follows the American Dream story of Motown founder Berry Gordy, who assisted in launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and others. Motown the Musical features hit songs such as “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” 402-472-4747.

Boo on the Farm Oct. 22, Wessel Living History Farm, 5520 S. Lincoln Ave., York. This Halloween event is for children in preschool through fifth grade. Games, treats, wagon rides, and Starbucks coffee will be available all day long. Each child will receive a pumpkin to take home. 402-710-0682.

Boo at the Zoo Oct. 26-30, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, 1222 S. 27th St., Lincoln. With over 40 trick-or-treat booths, Boo at the Zoo is Lincoln’s largest Halloween event. All of the money raised directly supports the animals, and children can see their favorite critters while snacking on candy. 402-475-6741.

The Good Life Halfsy Oct. 29, throughout Lincoln. This half marathon goes through several area green spaces. Runners also pass stadiums and iconic buildings before finishing downtown. 402-937-8515.

Punkin’ Chunkin’ Oct. 29, along Highway 32 one mile east of Petersburg. Competitors enter their machines to shoot, launch, throw, or fly pumpkins weighing 6 to 12 pounds. Pumpkins will be flung across fields all day long, and the event is held in conjunction with the World Championship Punkin’ Chunkin’ Association. 402-386-5551.


Iowastock 2017 Music and Art Fair Sept. 1-4, Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater, 3357 St. Charles Road, St. Charles. This new festival to central Iowa has a major goal in mind of highlighting the state’s homegrown talent. Along with music, the four-day event will feature food vendors, arts and crafts, and after-parties. 515-770-1218.

Harvest Wagon Rides at Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa, throughout September and October.

Harvest Wagon Rides Sept. 9, 16, and 23, and Oct. 14, Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. This evening of horse and wagon rides through fields and country roads also includes light refreshments and other autumn fun. 515-278-5286.

World Food & Music Festival Sept. 15-17 in downtown Des Moines. This food festival celebrating cuisine from around the world is returning with live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and a fireworks show. 515-286-4949.

ZZ TOP Sept. 17, Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. The legendary rock band has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. 515-246-2300.

Oktoberfest in downtown Des Moines Sept. 22-23

Oktoberfest Sept. 22-23, downtown Des Moines from Mulberry Street to Grand Avenue. Featuring polka bands, authentic German food, a rooftop bier garden, beer villages, dance lessons, and a stein holding competition, the 14th annual Oktoberfest is held in the heart of the Historic Court District. 515-286-4950.

Halloween Hike Oct. 23, Annett Nature Center, 15565 118th Ave., Indianola. Trek down a trail lit by jack-o’-lanterns and meet several costumed characters along the way. Crafts and snacks will follow the adventure through the woods. 515-961-6169.

Family Halloween Oct. 26-29, Living History Farms, 1121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. This non-scary family event includes horse-drawn wagon rides, storytellers, pumpkin bowling, trick-or-treating, and jack-o’-lanterns. 515-278-5286.

Steve Martin and Martin Short Oct. 27, Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. An evening of stand-up, film clips, musical numbers, and conversations of their lives in show business. The comedians will be joined by the Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers, a bluegrass band with whom Martin performs. 515-246-2300.

American Alpaca Showcase Oct. 28-29, Iowa State Fairgrounds, 3000 E. Grand Ave., Des Moines. This livestock competition will feature animals from both the American Alpaca Showcase and the Illinois Alpaca Show. The event is free and will feature alpacas from farms from all over the county. 603-610-6010.


Spooktacular Weekend Oct. 20-22 throughout Atchison. Visit the most haunted town in Kansas during the spookiest time of the year. Events include tours by the Haunted Trolley, and of the Sallie House, which has been featured on paranormal shows such as The Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures and BuzzFeed Unsolved. 800-234-1854.

Edgar Allen Poe History Mystery Walking Tour Oct. 29 at Atchison Theatre, 401 Santa Fe St., Atchison. Beginning with a tour of the old railroad town, the eerie evening returns to Theatre Atchison to enjoy an evening of mystery as the theater’s Encore Players recreate the drama of Edgar Allen Poe from the golden age of radio. 1-800-234-1854.


Joestock Music Festival Sept. 1-3, Felix Street Square, 2601 Frederick Ave., St. Joseph. This free music festival is for all ages. Produced in conjunction with the Missouri Music Hall of Fame, the festival is a celebration of local art and music. 816-676-1112.

Independence Uncorked Wine Festival Sept. 9, 313 W. Pacific Ave., Independence. Featuring 25 local wineries, the largest Missouri wine festival includes art, music, and food booths. Proceeds from the event go towards national and local charities, and the event is held on the grounds of the historic Bingham-Waggoner Estate and 1852 mansion. 816-820-2112.

Midwest Tea Festival in Kansas City Sept. 9-10.

Midwest Tea Festival Sept. 9-10, Ararat Shrine Temple, 5100 Ararat Drive, Kansas City. An event completely dedicated to tea, the Midwest Tea Festival focuses on tea preparation, tea culture, history and tons of tea tastings. A tea market featuring vendors from across the Midwest and country will run the entire length of the festival. 816-923-1995.

Gorillaz Sept. 22, The Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Fresh off of the release of the band’s latest album, Humanz, Gorillaz is better known as their virtual selves. The group is known as the most successful virtual band of all time, after selling over 7 million copies of their 2001 self-titled debut album Gorillaz. 816-949-7100.

The xx—”I See You Tour” Oct. 3, Star Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City. The British indie-pop band expanded their 2017 North American tour following the release of their third studio album, I See You. 816-363-7827.

Pony Express Pumpkinfest Oct. 13-15, Pony Express Museum, 914 Penn St., St. Joseph. The lighting of the Great Pumpkin Mountain—where hundreds of carved, electrically lit pumpkins come to life at the flip of the switch—opens the Pony Express Pumpkinfest. Following the lighting ceremony, a festival featuring a children’s costume parade, festival rides, food, and crafts takes place. 816-279-5059.

July/August 2017 Explore


The Good Living Tour July and August, various locations. The third-annual ambitious concert series, produced by Hear Nebraska, connects Nebraska talent to Nebraska towns, encouraging the growth of the state’s music industry. Concerts will be held in: Imperial (July 1), Red Cloud (July 15), McCook (July 29), Norfolk (Aug.4), Lyons (Aug. 18), and Hastings (Aug. 19).

Slide the City July 1, at Benjamin Avenue and 25th Street, Norfolk. 1,000 feet (three football fields) of vinyl will create a family friendly slip-and-slide water party. 402-844-2000.

Fourth of July Celebration July 4 in downtown Seward. Recognized as “America’s Small Town Fourth of July City,” Seward has hosted an old-fashioned family celebration since 1868. The event attracts nearly 40,000 people and features a car show, grand parade, extravagant fireworks display, and live entertainment. 402-643-4189.

Summer Arts and Music Festival July 4 in downtown Fairbury. This summer festival includes a showcase of pottery, a blues party, and a wine and beer tasting room. 402-613-2064.

John C. Fremont Days July 14-16 in downtown Fremont. Boasting new and old attractions, the 20th annual John C. Fremont Days will feature a Spam-cooking contest, live entertainment, a car and bike show, and more. 402-727-9428.

Nebraska Book Festival July 14-15 at Constellation Studios, 2055 O St., Lincoln. Providing an opportunity for participants to cultivate an understanding of literary history and culture in Nebraska, the festival celebrates Nebraska’s literary heritage and contemporary authors to stimulate public interest in books, reading, and writing. 402-472-7710.

Cornhusker State Games July 21-30, various locations in Lincoln and Omaha. Since 1985, the Cornhusker State Games has given people the chance to play. Competitions range from track and field, to chess, to mall-walking. 402-471-2544.

Cowboy Night July 21 at Stuhr Museum, 3133 W. U.S. Highway 34, Grand Island. An evening of cowboy activities returns. The event includes branding, roping games, a horse breaking demo, live music, and s’mores at the picturesque Rural Farmstead. 308-385-5316.

Gretna Days July 27-30 in downtown Gretna. This tradition began over 50 years ago to thank the community through a picnic. Gretna Days now include a carnival, golf tournament, teen dance, craft show, fireworks show, and more. 402-378-6284.

Czech Days Aug. 4-6 in downtown Wilbur. People of all backgrounds will come to celebrate Czechoslovakian culture. Festivities range from traditional dancing to a duck and dumpling run. 402-821-2732.

Haymarket in White Aug. 4 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr., Lincoln. Guests to the third annual Haymarket in White Dinner & Dance will enjoy gourmet picnic fare and dance the night away. Attendees, who must dress in all white, come together to celebrate Lincoln and the Haymarket community. 402-904-4444.

Bruno Mars Aug. 7 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr., Lincoln. The “24k Magic World Tour” is Mars’ first full-length tour since 2013. Mars, currently deemed one of the world’s most influential artists by Rolling Stone, has sold out shows throughout the world and has continued to impress fans of all ages. 402-904-4444.

A Very Berry Kool-Aid Days Bash Aug. 11-13 in Hastings. Kool-Aid Days celebrates the sugary drink invented by Edwin Perkins. Grab a glass of Kool-Aid at the World’s Largest Kool-Aid Stand, learn about Kool-Aid and other inventions of the 1920s, and more. 402-461-8405.

Capital City Ribfest Aug. 17-19 Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr., Lincoln. The 21st annual Ribfest returns with loads of barbecue, sides, and music. 402-904-4444.

Eclipse Painting Night Aug. 18 at Cedar Hills Vineyard & Gardens, 48970 375th Road, Ravenna. A painting night in honor of the total solar eclipse will take place at the Cedar Hills Vineyard. Guests will paint the Howl at the Moon design. Wine and snacks will be available for purchase. 308-452-3181.

Kendrick Lamar Aug. 18 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Dr., Lincoln. Lamar’s April-released album, Damn, has already gone platinum. Hailed by Rolling Stone as “the most gifted rapper of a generation,” Lamar has earned six Grammys, including one for best album. 402-904-4444.

Solar Eclipse Viewing Aug. 21 at Homestead National Monument, 8523 Nebraska Highway 4, Beatrice. The rare spectacle of the moon passing between the sun and the Earth turns the day into night. A total solar eclipse will cross the United States from Oregon to South Carolina. The park will host NASA programs and telescopes. 402-223-3514.

Brad Paisley Aug. 25 at the Nebraska State Fair—Fonner Park, 501 E. Fonner Park Road, Grand Island. Country singer Paisley will be joined by country artists Dustin Lynch, Chase Bryant, and Lindsay Ell. 308-382-1620.

Nebraska State Fair Aug. 25-Sept. 4 at Fonner Park, 501 E. Fonner Park Road, Grand Island. The 11-day event offers insights into the unique culture that is Nebraska. The fair includes a competitive livestock exhibition, carnival rides, first-class entertainment, and numerous food stands. 308-382-1620.


Independence Day. July 4 at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. Learn how Independence Day was celebrated 100 years ago. Participate in pie-eating contests, foot races, spelling bees, watermelon seed spitting contests, and more. The day will also feature a reading of the Declaration of Independence and a Victorian street parade. 515-278-5286.

80/35 Music Festival July 7-8 at Western Gateway Park, 12th and Locust streets, Des Moines.  Headliners for the 10th anniversary of this music festival, named after the two interstates that cross through Des Moines, will include The Shins and MGMT.

Ioway Culture Day July 15 at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. The Ioway Nation will come to the Farms to offer visitors an opportunity to experience how they built their homes, prepared food, and farmed. Guest presenters will share their knowledge of Native American culture and technology. 515-278-5286.

An American in ParisJuly 18 at Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. The 2015 Tony Award-winning musical about an American soldier, a French girl, and a mysterious European city will enchant audiences of all ages. The show earned more awards than any other musical in the 2014-2015 season. 515-246-2300.

National Balloon Classic July 28-Aug. 5 at Memorial Balloon Field, 15335 Jewell St., Indianola. Nearly 100 hot air balloons will paint the Iowa sky with brilliant colors, as live music plays on the ground beneath them. Events range from balloon races to balloon glows.

Hinterland Music Festival Aug. 4-5  at Saints Amphitheater, 3357 St. Charles Road, St. Charles. Held in a rural escape outside of Des Moines, Hinterland features a blend of music, camping, art, craft vendors, family engagement, and more. Headliners include The Head and the Heart and alt-J. 515-975-7830.

Iowa State Fair Aug. 10-20 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, E. 30th Street and E. University Avenue, Des Moines. Attracting more than 1 million people from around the world, Iowa’s salute to the best the state can offer includes exhibits ranging from livestock to doll houses, along with entertainment and achievement. Don’t forget the food! The 2016 fair offered more than 80 options that could be eaten on a stick. The fair is included in the New York Times best-selling travel book 1,000 Places to See Before you Die. 515-262-3111.


KC RiverFest July 4 at Berkley Riverfront Park, Kansas City. This Independence Day event for all ages includes 14 food trucks, two stages for musical acts, children’s crafts, and fireworks. 816-559-3750.

OneRepublic July 7 at Sprint Center,1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Since their breakout smash single “Apologize,” OneRepublic has been taking over Billboard charts. Their newest album, Oh My, was released in the fall of 2016 and debuted at No. 3  on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart. 816-949-7100.

Footloose The MusicalJuly 7-9 at Missouri Theater, 717 Edmond St., St. Joseph. The Oscar and Tony-nominated musical will dazzle audiences for two nights. The musical follows Ren, a dance-loving kid from Chicago, who moves to a small farming town where dancing isn’t legal. The musical celebrates open minds, dancing, and the wisdom of listening to young people. 816-271-4628.

Queen + Adam Lambert July 9 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Since their first meeting on American Idol in 2009, Queen and Adam Lambert have created a successful combination. The concert will feature Queen favorites, including “Bohemian Rhapsody.” 816-949-7100.

National Teddy Bear Picnic Day July 10 at Kansas City Museum, 3218 Gladstone Blvd., Kansas City. This will be the city’s first celebration of National Teddy Bear Picnic Day. Families are invited to come to the front lawn of the museum with their own picnics, blankets, and teddy bears. 816-513-0720.

Murder in Maui, a Mystery Dinner July 22 at Robidoux Landing Playhouse, 103 Francis St., St. Joseph. Guests will work through clues to find out who is the murderer in the room. Two actors will be at the dinner to lead guests through a night of mystery and suspense. 816-901-9100.

Food Truck Brunch July 23 and Aug. 20 at the Roasterie, 1204 W. 27th St., Kansas City. The monthly Food Truck Brunch is a family-friendly event that encompasses an assortment of local food trucks, live music, and games. 816-931-4000.

Green Day Aug. 11 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Green Day’s legacy continues with their Revolution Radio tour. Their show will feature a mix of classic Green Day songs and their recent hits, including “Still Breathing.” 816-949-7100.

Kinky Boots Aug. 18-20 at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City. Featuring songs by Grammy-winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, the musical, based on the movie of the same name, celebrates the friendships that can be discovered and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind. 816-363-7827.

Trails West Festival Aug. 18-21 in Civic Center Park, St. Joseph. Labeled a “total eclipse of the arts,” Trails West delivers a weekend of music, entertainment, and visual arts. 816-233-8467.

Rockin’ on the River Aug. 26 at Remington Nature Center, 1502 McArthur Dr., St. Joseph. A night of food, drinks, and fireworks will take place on the Missouri riverfront. Guests will also hear music from Casey Brett and Blue Oyster Culture Club. 816-271-5499.

Lionel Richie with Mariah Carey Aug. 27 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Music icon Lionel Richie had to postpone his spring “All The Hits Tour” due to an injury. He is now back on the road, bringing with him Grammy Award-winning artist Mariah Carey. 816-949-7100.


Heartland Art Guild International Miniature Paintings and Sculptures Art Show July 3-Aug. 4 at Miami County Historical Museum, 12 E. Peoria St., Paola. The 13th annual art show will feature more than 78 artists from around the world and more than 250 works of art. The catch is that paintings and sculptures can be no larger than 5” x 5” making this free art show very unique. 913-294-4940.

Junk ‘N Donuts Swap Meet July 8 & Aug. 12 at Louisburg Cider Mill, 14730 KS-68, Louisburg. 50-plus vendors will head to the mill to sell everything from antiques to new crafts, from food to gifts. Live music will be provided, as well as a country store featuring its famous apple cider donuts. 913-837-5202.

Big & Rich July 14 at Warnock Lake, 17862 274th Road, Atchison. This country-western duo is the headliner for this concert, which is part of the Amelia Earhart Festival. Also performing are Cam and Erik Dylan. 800-234-1854.

Amelia Earhart Festival July 13-15 in Atchison. This annual event celebrate Atchison’s most famous aviatrix. The festival includes “Grandfather Earhart’s” ice cream social, a carnival, “Breakfast with the Books” by authors about Amelia, a crafts fair, and flyovers; and it finishes with the “Concert in the Sky” fireworks show. 1-800-234-1854.

Tiblow Days Aug. 17-19 in downtown Bonner Springs. The three-day festival features the “Smokin’ On Oak” barbecue competition, a carnival, mayor’s banquet, craft and food booths, live music, parades, car shows, and more. 913-422-1020.

Blacksmith and Pioneer Days Aug. 19-20 at Transue Brothers Blacksmith and Wagon Shop, 309 Main St., Summerfield. The two-day event features blacksmithing, Dutch oven cooking, butter making, and other traditional activities. Guests can expect old-fashioned ice cream, wood carving, skull painting, and marble blowing. 402-520-0644.

This calendar is published as shown in the print edition

We welcome you to submit events to our print calendar. Please email event details and a 300 ppi photograph three months in advance to: editintern@omahamagazine.com

Event times and details may change

Living on Wheels

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by R.L. Lemke

The full-time RV life isn’t for everyone, but it is perfect for more than 1 million Americans. Why? Here are a number of the many attractions that draw people from their homesteads out to the open road.

Youthful: The first benefit I hear from people who have made the transition to full-time RV life is how they have reversed their aging. How they look and feel younger. How can this be? I credit the reduction in stress offered by RV life, and the opening yourself to new experiences on a daily basis.

Exploration: Most people crisscross America on freeways in a hurry to get to a destination. Full-time RVers learn to slow down and take the backroads to actually see America. To focus on the periodic stops by exploring the area for days at a time rather than making good time. This opens one up to enriching experiences.

Economical Lifestyle: While it is certainly easy to experience the full-time RV lifestyle in high style, it’s equally easy to live in a very frugal manner. I have visited RV communities that require a $1 million commitment in the purchase of a deeded parcel to huge communities where you can purchase long-term federal permits from $40 to $300. There is a luxury resort I visited where, for the price of a $3,600 six-month lease on a fully developed site, you may leave your RV there for the rest of the year.

The Easy Life: Full-time RVers always comment on how it was freeing to get rid of the accumulated stuff they were tied to. Much like the TV show Hoarders, we become trapped by our possessions. The RV lifestyle is one of few possessions, and just the essentials when it comes to stuff. There may be a sealed container with a single suit and dress, as your wardrobe only needs to be t-shirts and jeans or shorts, as you can always be in great weather.

Family & Friends: As full-time RVers make their annual loop around the country to visit family and friends, life becomes one big party as it is so enjoyable to visit in a manner that isn’t imposing on those being visited. You stay in your own home, sleeping in your own bed, and yet being able to be a part of their lives on a temporary basis. When it is time to leave, simply unhook and motor on to the next anticipated visit.

New Friends: When RVers pull into the next destination, the first thing is for those around you to walk over, introduce themselves, and invite you to evening gatherings. Sitting around on foldout chairs sharing stories of where you have been and what you have seen. This lifestyle pulls you out of your shell and allows you to make many new friends.

Travel With Physical Limitations: As a result of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990, campgrounds have built more ramps, paved more pathways, and created handicapped-accessible bathroom and showers. There is one resort I know of where there is a section that offers skilled care in your RV. This allows you to recover in your own “home.”

Interested in trying this lifestyle without a big commitment? There are hundreds of camping areas across the U.S. with fully equipped cabins. This allows you to experience the lifestyle from your auto. Try it, as you may find the RVer experience compelling.