Tag Archives: Nebraska

Play Ball!

September 18, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Mancuso: a name revered in the Omaha area for their family’s event planning business, Mid-America Expositions. 

From hosting grand events in Omaha’s late Civic Auditorium to formulating events like “Taste of Omaha,” the Mancusos’ impact has been felt in the Omaha area for more than 50 years. It is their passion for sports, however, that has held the family together. 

Youngest son Mike says his father, Bob Sr., grew up in Omaha with a heavy interest in sports thanks to Mike’s grandfather, Joe, being in charge of the city parks. Mike also says because his father grew up in a time without television and video games, sports were something he could easily focus on.

Bob Sr. took his passions to Kansas State University on a wrestling scholarship and later qualified to wrestle at the 1956 Olympic trials. However, before the trials started, Joe fell sick and passed away; Bob Sr. needed to move back to the area. Bob Sr. took a job coaching wrestling at Bellevue High School (now Bellevue East). He led the team to their first state championship, and within a few years, the University of Nebraska offered him a job coaching wrestling in Lincoln.

“Bob Devaney was just hired as the head football coach in 1962 and Frank Sevigne was the track coach, so he was just really enjoying the new environment and coaching at the time, as were us kids,” Mike says.   

Since their days in Lincoln, the Mancuso family has owned tickets to every season of Nebraska football.

“When my dad started coaching at Nebraska in the ’60s, he got a couple of seats for every football game,” Mike says. “We’ve kept those seats every year since it’s a tradition of ours to attend every game, through the good and the bad.”

Mike says he best remembers Saturdays at Memorial Stadium with his dad.

One October 1994 game in Lincoln has remained apparent in his mind.  

“It was a huge Big 8 matchup with Colorado, and Brook Berringer got the call at quarterback because Bobby Newcombe wasn’t feeling too good,” Mike says.  “We had the tunnel walk and HuskerVision for the first time, and [then] Colorado came out before we [Nebraska] came out onto the field. And because of that, I can just remember the stadium…going absolutely nuts.” 

For most games, the Mancusos have traveled to Memorial Stadium from Omaha. The family’s residence in Lincoln was cut short, in part due to Mike entreating his father to move home.

“1964 is when our family decided to move back to Omaha, since coaching, at the time, wasn’t paid in a substantial amount like it is today,” Mike says with a laugh. “I inspired our dad to start [Mid-America Expositions] and come to Omaha to start managing events.”

Mike and his older brothers, Bob Jr. and Joe, took their Cornhusker pride and athletic passion to the ball diamonds and courts of Omaha. Bob Sr. was also a prominent figure in the Omaha sports community.

“We grew up around Omaha sports, playing in a variety of different leagues,” Mike says. “Like his dad, my dad also coached a lot, mainly because he loved teaching. He also was very involved in the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, originated by my uncle Charlie, and continued by my dad after Charlie’s death.”

Mike says his dad’s involvement in the Greater Omaha Sports Committee created many surreal experiences as a child, where he and his brothers worked as bat, and ball, boys for Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association exhibition games.

“I remember one time I was a ball boy underneath the hoop and Sam Lacey was the big center and ‘Tiny’  Nate Archibald was the little guard,” Mike says, speaking of two Kansas City Kings players. “During the game, Lacey went after a ball and tumbled into the stands, causing everyone to [launch] their pops, creating a mess. I had to get my towel out and clean it up in front of everybody.”  

At the core of the Greater Omaha Sports Committee, and the city, was the College World Series. Bob Sr. and fellow committee members often held a welcome luncheon for all the participating teams, hoping to provide unforgettable experiences in Omaha.

The Mancusos’ contribution and involvement in college baseball’s grand series carried on throughout the tournament as Mike and his brothers helped to enhance the experience in any way possible. 

“We would run the dugouts, trying to clean them up between each game,” Mike says. “We worked the fields, and if we had time, would run up and clean the press box. Up there we took care of the press by giving them something to eat and plenty of water to drink at the games. We’ll just say I made a lot of Zesto runs.”

A newspaper clipping from Wilmer Mizell’s appearance in Omaha

One time his father even gave up their family’s premier seats to former Saint Louis Cardinals pitcher and U.S. congressman Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell.

“Ben Mizell came in for breakfast one morning before the games to speak in front of some of the players who were involved with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes,” Mike says.  “After the speech, my dad generously told him to take our seats, kicking my brothers and I out.  Luckily, there were spots up top in the GA [general admission] section, and at that age we liked to run around anyway.”

Like Bob Sr., his three boys also played college sports. Mike inherited his father’s passion for wrestling, taking his talents to Iowa State University. Bob Jr. also took the Mancuso name to Ames, though for baseball, while Joe played baseball at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Although the brothers now longer watch sports with their dad, who passed away in 2015, in many ways, sports act as a microcosm in demonstrating the core aspects of family, which is why the Mancuso brothers’ passion in athletics ceases to fade.


Visit showofficeonline.com for more information.

This article was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

A souvenier given to CWS teams

Hooray For Miss USA

September 9, 2018 by
Photography by the Miss Universe organization

When 12-year-old Sarah Rose Summers asked her parents if she could compete in the National American Miss pageant, they gave her a major side eye. 

“I was one of the shyest girls,” says Summers, now 23. “I was the one who latched onto my mom’s leg and bawled my eyes out when she tried to drop me at dance class. I wouldn’t make eye contact with strangers or speak in the classroom.”

Summers’ parents said yes, thinking she’d forget about the whole thing, but her interest persisted. Little did her family know that this was merely the first chapter in a storybook journey that would end with Summers being crowned Miss USA in May 2018—becoming the first woman from Nebraska to win the crown. (Summers had previously won the National American Miss Junior Teen title in 2010; she was also the first Nebraskan to win that honor.) 

“I was the first to win from Nebraska then and now,” Summers says. “My goal after [National American Miss Junior Teen] was always to [represent] Nebraska on the Miss USA stage.”

Regarding her history-making Miss USA win, Summers is proud to have made her mark and hopes it will inspire Nebraska girls to reach for their own dreams.

“I’m so honored to have the opportunity to encourage them, that even if their dreams don’t seem attainable, they should chase them anyway—because here I am,” Summers says.

Summers, whose Miss USA win precipitated an immediate move to New York City, was born and raised in Papillion, surrounded by a tight-knit extended family.  

“My whole family lives within 30 minutes from our house—meaning my grandparents, cousins, second cousins…I was very fortunate to be raised so close to family,” Summers says. “Being in Nebraska, you always have your feet firmly on the ground. You know your roots, you know your neighbors’ names, and it’s not that way everywhere. I’m grateful for growing up in Nebraska where you can form those relationships with everyone you see.”

In what sounds vaguely like a scene from the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Summers shares a story of her first time jogging through Central Park, greeting everyone she passed, just as she would back in Nebraska.

“I got a lot of crazy looks when I was smiling and waving at strangers in Central Park, but I got a few smiles back, so I’m just going to keep that up and bring that Nebraska joy to the city,” she says.  

In the moments before being named in the top 15, Summers says she had butterflies in her stomach, but pride in her performance and proximity to good friends put her at ease. 

“I knew that I had 110 percent been myself and felt strong in my performance. I was hoping to hear my name, but, if not, I was content and knew where to walk offstage,” Summers says. “I was really at peace and just soaking it up. Then I was called right after my friend, Miss New Jersey [Alexa Noone], so that was pretty amazing. I got to run down and hug her.”

Summers then advanced to the top 10—still hopeful, but at peace with any outcome. She maintained this feeling through the top two, which came down to her and one of her best Miss USA friends, Caelynn Miller-Keyes of North Carolina.

“We connected on a lot of levels, like being goal-driven women and having a strong faith. It was like a children’s book, the two of us being up there,” Summers says. “It was a whirlwind of emotions. I remember it up to that point, but then when they said ‘Nebraska’ I had to watch it back to really understand it all. I don’t remember crying. I remember falling to the ground and then Kára [McCullough], last year’s Miss USA, leaned down and said, ‘Can I crown you now?’ and I said, ‘Yes, of course, please do.’”

Summers’ entire family traveled to Shreveport, Louisana, for the Miss USA pageant, including her brother, Scott, who later texted: “I’ve been to about 15 pageants for you but I was not mentally prepared for five eliminations in 90 minutes. That was stressful. It’s usually a top 15, top 5, and then announcement of places. That was just brutal on your brother.” 

While Summers and her family will have to prepare for another nail-biter when she competes in the Miss Universe pageant in late 2018, right now she’s focused on her newfound opportunity to impact others on a larger scale.

“I made a difference in Nebraska as Miss Nebraska USA and was already making a difference as Sarah Rose Summers, but this opportunity plunges me forward to be able to speak on topics I’m passionate about and to affect others and causes that I feel called to. To work with the Miss Universe Organization and have the opportunity to travel, meet people, and make connections is amazing,” Summers says.  

Project Sunshine is one partner organization she’s excited to work with. They organize volunteers to comfort pediatric patients and their families in various medical settings—a cause near and dear to Summers personally and professionally.

“I connect deeply to [the Project Sunshine mission] because I was hospitalized at Children’s in Omaha when I was younger with something called ITP,” Summers says. “I was only there for a short time, thank goodness, but I remember how scary it was for my family and me.”

The experience propelled Summers to volunteer at hospitals in Omaha and Fort Worth, where she attended Texas Christian University and discovered her calling to become a certified child life specialist. After completing her schooling and clinical rotations, she sat for her certification exam in April 2018.

Summers’ advice for others who seek to reach their goals is to write them down, a practice she learned working part-time for Lululemon. 

“Write your goals down, first and foremost. Then, if you’re bold enough, share them with others so they can help hold you accountable, and help drive you to that goal, and maybe even form strategies around how to make it happen,” Summers says.

While she earned her title as one of the world’s most beautiful women, Summers defines beauty holistically. She hopes to set a realistic, attainable, healthy example for girls and women of all ages. 

“The Miss Universe mantra—‘confidently beautiful’—is about more than your figure, size, height, face structure, skin, or hair color. It’s being confident in who you are, from your looks to your beliefs, and knowing that you’re happy with who you are, proud of your accomplishments, and confident in your aspirations,” Summers says. “Beauty is so much deeper than physical attributes.”

To Summers, pageants are also about so much more than beauty. 

“[The pageant] is an opportunity for like-minded, encouraging women to come together, get to know each other, share their stories, and become friends,” Summers says. “It’s just another outlet for us as women to empower each other.” 


Visit missuniverse.com/missusa to learn more.

This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Adam Devine Chugs the Big Red Kool-Aid

September 2, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

There is an all-out prank war in the office. After one of three slacker telemarketer friends/roommates got a big promotion, the other two conspired to humble his inflated ego (by stealing the car keys and clamping a bike lock around his neck before an important client meeting). 

While pretending to be busy as their distraught bud arrives late to the office, Adam Devine—playing his character Adam DeMamp in the Comedy Central series Workaholics—makes a passing reference to his home state over the phone: “I’m gonna go ahead and get two dozen throwing stars out to your residence in Bellevue, Nebraska. You’re gonna enjoy that, Mr. Johnson. Thank you, OK, I love you, too.” he says before hanging up. Then the on-screen office pranking escalates further.

The throwing stars reference was merely a small personal touch to the ridiculous storyline of  “The Promotion,” the fourth episode in season one of a series dedicated to zany office antics and often-intoxicated misadventures of three cubicle-mates (played by Devine and his real-life friends, roommates, and co-creators of the show). Name-dropping Bellevue was a subtlety to the script from Devine that connects his breakout role in the show back to his roots in The Good Life. 

“It’s just specificity,” Devine says. “In comedy, it really helps—instead of just saying some generic town or being vague—to use an exact place. I know a lot of Nebraska town names, and they’re always at the tip of my tongue. It’s always fun to rep Nebraska when you get a chance, too. Why not? Go Big Red!” 

Devine’s fans in Nebraska can delight from the occasional references to Nebraska littered throughout his creative works. Meanwhile, any media-consuming Nebraskans who are unaware that the actor grew up in Omaha are likely familiar with his characters in Workaholics, the Pitch Perfect franchise, or other notable roles.

Workaholics concluded its run after seven seasons in March 2017, as Devine and his partners decided it was time to move on to other projects. A cursory look at his TV and film credits, however, shows that Devine truly is a “workaholic.” 

Between 2013 and 2018, he appeared regularly on the ABC sitcom Modern Family as “Andy.” He starred in and co-wrote Adam Devine’s House Party on Comedy Central between 2013 and 2016 (a stand-up comedy show that he co-directed and co-created with fellow “Workaholic” Kyle Newacheck), starred in Pitch Perfect 1 and 2 as the egotistical leader of an all-male a cappella group (2012 and 2015), starred opposite Zac Efron in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016), voiced a mammoth in the animated film Ice Age: Collision Course (2016), voiced the Flash in The Lego Batman Movie (2017), and hosted the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards. But that’s only naming a few of the projects from his young yet jam-packed filmography. 

Recently, online streaming platforms have become an important avenue for finding his latest projects. Not only can viewers binge all seven seasons of Workaholics on Hulu, Netflix also released two films in 2018 that showcase his writing, producing, and directing in addition to his starring on the screen: the rom-com When We First Met (February) and the raunchy action-comedy Game Over, Man! (March). In August, after this edition of Omaha Magazine went to press, Netflix also planned to debut The Package, a film that Devine co-produced with Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, and Newacheck of Workaholics. The movie tells the story of teenagers on a camping trip that devolves into a mission to save their friend’s “most prized [anatomical] possession.” 

Of course, Devine was not always such a big-shot comedian/actor. In fact, he wasn’t even originally from Nebraska—though he considers Omaha his hometown (a fact that Omaha Magazine heartily endorses). He was born in Waterloo, Iowa, and moved to Millard when he was about 10 years old. 

“It was 1994, and we [Nebraska football] were just dominant at that time,” he says. “I remember watching the Orange Bowl with my dad and a bunch of his friends and just a bunch of people from the neighborhood, and just being in awe of how much people loved the Huskers and how much it meant for people and how exciting it was to put on all the gear [red-and-white shirts with the team’s logo] and watch the Huskers play.”

If the Huskers had sucked, Devine admits, he might not have been such an enthusiastic convert. But it was like watching Michael Jordan play for the Chicago Bulls. “It was fun to watch because we won absolutely every time, and you know, that solidified it for me,” he says. “And now I still watch every game. I’m waiting for us to regain our glory because I already drank the Big Red Kool-Aid. Once you drink it, there’s no going back.” 

When he first moved to Omaha, he was just a kid trying to fit in. Mom-dictated fashion choices didn’t help. He had previously attended a Catholic elementary school in eastern Iowa where uniforms were mandatory—navy blue pants with a shirt tucked in—and that’s what she made him wear for his first day of class at Millard Public Schools.

“After that, I was like, ‘I’ve got to do anything I can to fit in,’” he recalls. “I noticed Husker gear was a very popular thing to wear, so I was like, ‘I have to get decked out, Mom, and she was like, ‘You’re not even a Husker fan. We’re from Iowa,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t care, we’re buying the gear. I’m not wearing the turtleneck again.’” 

The ’94 Orange Bowl came a few months after his family’s relocation. Devine made friends and settled into the start of a stereotypical suburban Omaha childhood. Until one summer day, a collision with destiny changed his life. Destiny, in this case, was a 42-ton truck that ran him over as he crossed the street to catch up with a friend going to buy candy at a neighborhood gas station. 

Devine’s world went black. He woke up two weeks later. “They told me that I probably would have died if I didn’t have my bike on the right-hand side of my body,” he says, adding that the local news coverage of the accident showed a gnarly scene with the bike crumpled like a pretzel. “I kind of fell underneath it and got spit out, as opposed to taking the full hit myself.” 

Physical recovery was many years in the making. Although disabled in the aftermath of the accident, Devine was a sponge for the sublime awesomeness of Nebraska football in its 1990s heyday. Tom Osborne’s Huskers squads helped sustain his soul. Bedridden and incapacitated during the ’95 national championship, he was limping around on crutches by the time the Huskers clinched another national championship in ’97. Thousands of fans once again gathered in the city’s major intersections to pump their fists and shout the “Go Big Red” call and response ad infinitum. Devine was there, and he loved it.

“It was the most mayhem I’d ever seen,” he says. “What I love about Omaha—and what I love about Nebraska and the Midwest in general—is that it was mayhem, and everyone was having a great time, but everyone was so cool and so polite and really open and giving. Here I am, a little boy on crutches, and I’m crutching around out there, and no one stole my crutches to use them as timber to start a fire [laughing], which I feel in most other cities it would have been, ‘Hey kid, give me that, I gotta bash in this window and quickly steal this TV as we start this liquor store on fire.’” 

His role with Workaholics and Adam Devine’s House Party on Comedy Central would eventually make partying a visible part of his on-screen persona. But the mass of Huskers fans celebrating a national championship was his first epic party (or at least, his first big party that did not involve rollerblades, bowling, and a lot of pizza). Women were flashing boobs in jubilation. He and his friends had sneaked beer from the cooler at home and felt buzzed for the first time. He was having the time of his life. “I was such a little kid,” he says. “I didn’t really know where I was. If I wasn’t on Millard Avenue, I was probably thinking, ‘Oh my, we are MILES from home. I’m in the big city!’”

Unfortunately, he never had a chance to explore his own athletic prowess in Omaha. The cement truck of destiny smashed Devine’s dreams of advancing from peewee football to the Blackshirts of UNL. Nevertheless, he kept his athletic ambition alive by lowering the rim of his driveway basketball hoop and pretending he was Michael Jordan. Then, every year of high school, he would try out for the Millard South basketball team. 

“I really just wanted to make the team, and I tried really hard,” he says. “But our team was pretty good throughout my high school life, and I ran like a 17-minute mile at that point because I was just relearning how to walk. So there was no way that I was going to make the cut. But I tried out every year…For whatever reason, players had to buy the shoes before you actually knew if you made the team or not, so I always bought the shoes. Finally, my senior year during tryouts, the coach yelled over to me like ‘Devine!’ and I was thinking, ‘Uh oh, he’s calling me up! He’s gonna say I’m the sixth man! I’m coming off the bench, here I go!’ and he’s like, ‘You don’t need to buy the shoes.’ I’m sure my mom appreciated the brutal honesty because she did not want to buy those shoes. I still think I did, though, I still think I got that last pair.” 

In his roles in Workaholics and Pitch Perfect, Devine played characters oozing with overconfidence. These performances were shaped by his own youthful experiences deflecting hostility from occasional bullies. Humor, he found, was the great defensive strategy. 

“The thing about bullies that always made me laugh is they’re usually the dumbest guy in the room; they’re never the smartest,” he says. “It’s funny, when playing a character like that, to have this braggadocio, that confidence, when you’re really an idiot masking all your insecurities. That’s what bullies are. They’re insecure about something, and that’s why they’re lashing out. Because they don’t want everyone to think they’re not cool, or to acknowledge whatever they’re insecure about. So they mask it by bullying someone else. I played that role a lot with Adam DeMamp on Workaholics. I created the character, and I loved playing it because he was so confident. But with his friends, he would cry in front of them and be super sad and be like, ‘No one likes me!’ because that’s what he’s really thinking. But when he goes out, he tries to act like the most confident, coolest guy, which usually backfires—which is what it does for most people when they try to act like something they’re not.” 

Making gag phone calls to a now-defunct Omaha radio station, KDGE-FM 101.9 “The Edge,” gave Devine his earliest exposure to comedic performance for the general public. He was just having fun, not thinking of it as any sort of career development. But it was. 

“After I had my accident, I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do anything,” he says. “So I would call into The Edge every day and do different voices and impressions. The DJs liked it, so I kept calling back. I would be writing bits at school in class and run home, well, not ‘run’ but aggressively crutch home or have someone push me up a hill in a wheelchair home, and then do my bits on the radio. I remember they were like, ‘Hey, you’re calling every day, we want you to be a color commentary guy on the radio station. We’ll think of bits for you to do every day and we’ll pay you. This could be your job, you call in every day anyway.’ And I was like, ‘This is great!’ so I went down to The Edge headquarters in the Old Market. My mom had to drive me all the way down there, I was 12 or 13 years old at this point and in a wheelchair. My mom pushes me in, and the guys are like, ‘What, we thought you were an adult!’ Because I never talked with them out of character, I would just be in character 100 percent of the time, and they were like, ‘Well, we can’t hire you, but what we can do is give you free concert tickets and free CDs to any events we throw.’ For the next couple of years, I got dozens and dozens of free concert tickets, which, at that age—13 and 14 years old—is better than any amount of money that they could have given. I would roll to Rockfest, Edgefest, and all the local rock shows put on by The Edge with 15 to 20 people. Which was a good way to have kids not make fun of you or punk you, since I was just getting over being crippled.”

Doing the bits on the radio gave him ammunition to negate the would-be meanness of monstrous middle schoolers. After all, the only thing these kids wanted more than making fun of someone else was getting to go to a concert for free. He had the power, like Devine intervention.  

Three different telemarketing jobs during high school, likewise, gave him more unexpected fodder for his eventual foray into mainstream comedy and his role on Workaholics. But when he was working in his cubicle, he was just trying to pass the time. 

For Professional Research Consultants, he conducted surveys over the phone for health care companies. “It was pretty straight forward,” he says. “You just had to have a polite voice on the phone, and people for the most part were like, ‘Yeah, my hospital stay was good,’ and you could take it from there. That being said, I would definitely change my voice for which part of the country I was calling. If I was calling the South, I would have a Southern accent [he says with a Southern drawl], and then if I was calling New York [he says with a Bronx accent], I would use more of a East Coast thing, and I would change my name to sound more New York. I remember my boss took me in and was like, ‘You’re doing great, just don’t change your name and your voice. You should not do that. Use your regular voice everywhere that we’re calling.’” 

Selling meat for Omaha Steaks was more difficult. “Because as much as steaks are delicious and everyone likes steak, and Omaha Steaks is a great name brand, if you’re not hungry for steak, you’re not thinking, ‘Oh, I should buy $500 in steaks right now,’” Devine says. “So it was a lot of me taking a piece of paper and wiggling it in front of the phone and going, ‘What’s this?’ and then acting like I’m talking to someone else and going like, ‘Wow, I cannot believe this. The boss just brought this to me from upstairs’—there were no upstairs; it was a one-story building—‘and we are going to give you this amazing discount.’ It was the exact same discount we were going to give everybody else. But this was my sales technique, and it worked.” 

The third of his telemarketing jobs was the worst. It was a company that sold everything from knives to Time-Life Books over the phone. “That was the worst phone job because, have you ever wanted to buy a Time-Life Book in your life? No. No one has,” he says imagining the poor souls who got stuck receiving the books month after month and having to scatter them around the house everytime Grandma came to visit. Grandparents, it seems, were a solid target for sales.   

There were classes that helped his comedy and acting career along the way, too. He enrolled in the theater arts program at Millard South during his freshman year. But it wasn’t until his junior year that he began to take the school’s theater program more seriously.

“My drama teacher at Millard South High School, Robin Baker, was just awesome,” Devine says. “She was cool, and she knew people that were actually working actors in Hollywood and people who were producers and writers and people that were actually doing it—not just on the small level, but actually making careers out of it.” 

Baker helped him to believe that he could do it, too. She saw that Devine enjoyed making videos, and she encouraged him by showing the videos during classes or at rehearsals. He had focused only on comedy in his first three years of high school. But, at her urging, he began to branch out from comedy to dramatic roles in his senior year.

“OK, this is what I want to do,” he realized. “My legs aren’t going to suddenly super-heal, and I’m not going to be the freak athlete that I once thought I was, so I should do something else.” So, Devine took parts in five plays his senior year. 

“She was like, ‘For comedians, the reason they’re usually funny is they have a depth of emotion that they can easily tap into, and that lends itself to being a good dramatic actor,’” Devine says of his high school drama teacher. “She gave me a shot at doing some more dramatic stuff, so I ran with it. She gave me the confidence to move out to Hollywood and pursue a real career. And to her credit, during my senior year, when I was telling my parents that I wanted to move to L.A. and try to give acting and comedy a real go, she told them that she thought that I had the chops to make it. And that gave my parents the confidence to allow me to go.”

Off to California he went. Devine applied to UCLA and was accepted, but didn’t have enough money to cover tuition. He ended up studying at Orange Coast Community College, thinking he might transfer the credits to another California university afterward. Soon after enrolling at the community college, Devine met Blake Anderson and Kyle Newacheck (two of the four core members of Workaholics).

“On day one of improv class at the community college, I just kind of clicked with them,” Devine says. “Blake, as you know from Workaholics, ends up having these long, beautiful, luscious locks that the ladies just adore. But at that time he had the cutest little afro, very Justin Guarini-esque, and he was super funny, so I kind of latched on to him and we started writing comedy together. After a couple years, I realized that I didn’t want to go to school. I wanted to do comedy full-time. Kyle, who plays Carl the drug dealer on Workaholics, who directed many of the episodes for us on Workaholics, he moved up [to L.A. from Orange County] to go to film school, and at that time I was like, ‘I’m going to move up as well and really start to take my comedy/acting career seriously.’”

Devine never graduated from Orange Coast Community College, though he speaks highly of the school. He didn’t want to take the math and science credits needed to complete a degree. He only took improv, creative writing, screenwriting, and the classes that he thought would make him better at the job he actually wanted to do. 

That strategy doesn’t work out for everyone, he admits: “I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. But I really put my nose down. I was determined that this is what I’m gonna do, and I’m gonna do it full-steam ahead. Luckily things kind of clicked into place for me.” 

Devine intervention strikes again. Two years after moving to Orange County, the 20-year-old aspiring comedian took a job at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club in L.A. He was just answering phones and working the door. Nevertheless, he considers it to be his first break. 

“Even though it’s not like a true Hollywood break, I got to see comics like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Fortune Feimster, Daniel Tosh, and all these guys from all different walks of life at the top of their game, these A-list comedians,” he says. “Second City, at that time, was connected to the Improv. It was right next door. If you worked at the Improv, you got half off of classes at Second City. So I was like, ‘This is perfect!’ I took as many classes over there as I possibly could.”

In the Second City musical improv class, Devine met Anders Holm, the fourth member of the yet-to-assemble Workaholics squad. A troupe associated with the class was planning to go on tour and do corporate gigs. Singing musical improv at the Mead Paper Corp. turned out to be Devine’s first paying comedy gig.

Devine found Holm to be like the yin to his yang, or vice versa. “He actually was the first person I met who was a writer that was serious about writing,” Devine says. “He was more serious about writing than performing, and I was kind of the other way. I was performing so often and doing stand-up every night. I think he wanted to be more of a performer, and I wanted to be more of a writer, and we sort of helped each other. We started writing together, and then he joined my class, and we started to perform together.” 

YouTube was still a new phenomenon on the internet, and Devine saw an opportunity for his comedian friends to assemble like Voltron. “So I call my old friends Blake Anderson and Kyle Newacheck. I was living with Kyle at the time,” Devine says. “I was like, ‘We need to start making videos,’” as the only comedy-focused videos he was seeing on YouTube were from Andy Samberg’s Lonely Island crew. 

“I think we came out with about 80 videos in about two years,” Devine says, “That’s when we started to get the attention of Comedy Central, because we were putting out so much stuff, and at the same time, I was doing stand-up and I started to catch the attention of Comedy Central. They had me on Live at Gotham, which was the new faces show before Adam Devine’s House Party. So that was my first TV stand-up show.” 

The Comedy Central execs started watching all of their material on YouTube—which remains available under their group’s channel, Mail Order Comedy—then Devine says they were approached: “‘Oh, you guys can actually create something. Do you have any ideas for shows?’ And we were like, ‘We sure do.’” 

Gangster-rapping wizards were going to be the next big thing in comedy. Almost. “We went through a weird period where we created an entire album of us as gangster-rapping wizards from another realm,” he says. “I mean, you can buy the album, it’s called Purple Magic, I believe it’s on iTunes still. We thought it was awesome, and we were getting great feedback, and those were our first videos that went really viral. That was right around the same time Comedy Central asked about show ideas.”

They also had done a Mail Order Comedy web series that Devine says “was basically Workaholics before Workaholics,” and the executives had expressed interest in that concept of the guys living together and working together and getting into hijinks, “and we’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s a good idea, but what’s a better idea is us as gangster-rapping wizards from another realm that come to this realm to take over the rap game.’ And they’re like, ‘What? No. That’s a horrible idea. We do not want that.’ But we kept pitching it anyway. We pitched the lower level execs; they were like, ‘Great, don’t pitch that when you go to the vice president.’ So we’re like, ‘OK,’ and then we pitch it to the vice president, and they’re like, ‘Great, you’re going to pitch the president next week, do not pitch the wizard rap,’ So then we go there and we pitch Workaholics; she’s loving it, she’s like, ‘This is a really great idea. We’re excited about this.’ Then we pull the rug out from under ourselves, and we’re like, ‘Well, it’s great you’re excited about that, but what we really wanna do is…’ and pitch her the wizards. And she’s like, ‘No, we’re not doing that.’ Well, thank God the execs at Comedy Central were nice enough to just not go, ‘OK, you know what, just leave. Don’t come back. We’re trying to give you your shot, but you won’t shut up about wizards.’”

Whether or not the gangster-rapping wizards concept ever magically resurrects itself, Devine has remained plenty busy with other projects—minus his wand and Gandalf beard. “I’m coming off a whirlwind,” he says. “Last year I shot three movies and did a stand-up tour, a huge tour, and then I just promoted a bunch of those movies and was all over the country promoting, and went on a USO tour with my dad this last Christmas to Iraq and Afghanistan, and then went on a stand-up tour to Japan and Australia for about a month, and then here I am. This is like the first gasp of air these last couple weeks.” 

Back in his regular routine, he’s still on the grind. He describes a regular day as, “Waking up, then I usually have an interview or two, then some meetings with someone, and then I chug coffee and go do shows. I usually try to do a couple shows a night still.” 

His stand-up push is fodder for his next goal for his comedy career—a Netflix special, which Devine will be shooting this fall at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha. The discussion with Netflix was still under negotiation over the summer when Devine spoke with Omaha Magazine for this article. His desire to film the potential comedy special back in his Homaha once again demonstrates his genuine love of Nebraska. 

But that’s not all on the horizon for him. With an anticipated 2019 release on Disney’s new streaming platform, Devine stars in the upcoming family-friendly Disney film Magic Camp, where he plays a banker returning to the magic camp of his youth. 

Meanwhile, in July, HBO announced plans for a pilot for a new comedy series titled The Righteous Gemstones about a conflicted televangelist family by the name of Gemstone. Devine is signed on for the role of the family patriarch’s hardcore fundamentalist son bent on destroying Satan. 

Devine says he has several other undisclosed projects percolating, and he doesn’t see the term “workaholic” as a negative in his personal circumstances: “It’s not like I’m working so hard that I’m ignoring my family and not making it to a birthday dinner for someone I love, like ‘Sorry, he’s too busy working,’ while I’m just in the other room aggressively writing dick and fart jokes. Like, ‘I can’t make your birthday dinner! I must finish this perfect dick analogy!’ But no, I do work very hard, and that comes from being from the Midwest and having that mentality.” 

He attributes his work ethic to Midwestern parents and upbringing: “Seeing how hard my parents worked to take care of me and my sister, I knew in order to get this career up off the ground, I needed to work as hard as I possibly could. It really just comes down to, surround yourself with people that you think are smarter and more talented than you are, and then try to outwork anyone that you know. If you do that, even if you’re not the smartest or most talented, but you’re willing to work harder than anyone else you know, you can get smarter and you can get more talented. As long as you’re willing to put in the extra work. A lot of people aren’t. I used to work with some people who I thought, ‘These are the funniest people I’ve met in my life!’ and now they’re not even in the business because they weren’t willing to do the 15 shows a week and stay out until 4 a.m. driving around the country doing shows and staying up late to finish that script.”

He has worked as a comedian, writer, actor, voice actor, producer, and director for various projects over the years. But how would he like to be seen? “The thing is, I like doing all of it. I wouldn’t want to do just one thing,” he says. “I have friends that only do stand-up, that’s all they do. To me, I would get bored if I didn’t have other avenues to go down. I love acting. I love playing different roles. I would love to play some more dramatic roles, and do like Robin Williams did toward the end of his career. 

But then I also love producing, I love taking other people’s projects and ideas and using my connections that I’ve made through the years and helping them find money for the projects and actually helping get them made. I also would like to direct movies and have control over making a creative vision come to life. I love writing and coming up with this little nugget of an idea, this little morsel, and seeing it become a full-fledged movie or a TV show that has a life of its own. That is really gratifying, a very cool experience.” 

While experimenting in all aspects of creative production appeals to Devine, he also doesn’t mind letting it all hang out. Literally. As evidenced by his dropping his pants and jumping buck naked from a closet to surprise the armed mercenaries in Game Over, Man!, the Netflix film that Devine and all of his fellow Workaholics co-creators put together as a team. 

The concept for Game Over, Man! evolved from their writing “Office Campout,” their third episode of Workaholics, which first aired seven years ago on Comedy Central. The episode featured an attempted defense of their cubicle maze from nighttime invaders—inspired by the film Die Hard with psychedelic mushrooms. The plot of the Netflix film drives home the Die Hard inspiration even harder (with the trio working as hotel janitorial staff rather than telemarketers) with action combat scenes, mercenaries with automatic weapons, and a big boss, plus illicit substances. 

Did he get any grief from his parents over his family jewels flashing? “No,” he says. “I love my parents. They’re the best, they’re so supportive. My mom was sitting by me at the premiere. I was sitting in front of her actually. I didn’t want to sit right next to her. Then, as it’s happening [as his penis is bouncing on the screen], she’s going ‘Aww’ [in an affectionate motherly way], and then she kept going, ‘Well, this is funny. This is funny,’ which I think is her nervous way of not being like, ‘Ew, gross, why is my son’s dick out?’” 

Around the time that Game Over, Man! debuted on Netflix in spring 2018, the HBO series Westworld started its second season. One of the male actors in Westworld, Simon Quarterman, dropped his pants in the first episode for a full-frontal nude scene. Quarterman told New York Magazine’s Vulture that the experience was liberating and he urged other actors to try it. Well, Devine is all over that trend like a dog humping a leg. “We don’t coast,” as Omaha’s official slogan insists. We’re ahead of the curve. 

“Yeah, yeah we are,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not afraid to let it all hang out.” 

No one in the audience of the premiere was cheering “Go Big Red!” but it would have been a cute way to welcome the actor’s manicured manparts on the big screen.

Like any true Nebraskan, Devine remains a Husker fan in spite of the program’s struggles in recent years. He even had an opportunity to come and work out with the Huskers in 2016 while promoting the film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

“I love going to Nebraska to promote movies,” he says. “It’s just fun for me, especially when I get to do cool stuff like going on the field and retrieving some punts—which was really much harder than it looks. Turns out, those guys are freak athletes. They gave me a jersey with my name on it, I got to run up and down the field, I got to take the passes, retrieve some punts, and I also got to go in the gym and get my swole on with the weight-training staff. Big shout-out to them, and thanks for the free gym membership. We were doing push-ups, stuff with the medicine ball, and they told me I could come back any time. I have yet to take them up on it, but I kind of want to go back for just a month and really abuse my privileges [laughing] make them be like, ‘You gotta go. We’re trying to work out here.’”

During that promo visit, he had a chance to talk one-on-one with then-Coach Mike Riley. The coach sat the actor down in his office for the recruitment talk. It was likely the closest Devine will ever comes to realizing his dream of playing for the Cornhuskers. 

“He’s a super nice guy,” he says of Riley. “You know, it’s sad because I don’t like it when people lose their jobs—they’ve got family they’re supporting, so that’s never a good thing—but at the same time, it just wasn’t clicking. It wasn’t working out…Coming off of Scott Frost’s [undefeated 2017] season at Central Florida, I think this was the right time to make the move.”  

A die-hard fan, Devine can’t conceal his excitement about coach Frost’s shakeup of the storied football program, even if it’s merely for the morale of the fans. “Who knows what’s going to happen, especially the first couple seasons,” he says. “I think we have to give him time to adjust, but just as far as excitement about the team, thinking we have a shot, that goes a long way. We’re the Huskers, baby. You can’t count us out. It’s a Frost Warning!”

He’s not alone in his outlook on the 2018 season. Devine has witnessed the excitement from fellow roving residents of the Husker Nation all around the country, even overseas. He received a reminder in his adopted home in Southern California.

“This is going to sound like I’m a fancy asshole, but I have a beach house and have a Husker flag at the end of my dock,” he says, “and just the other day, this guy kept driving past and screaming something. I didn’t know what he was screaming. Finally, after he passed the fourth time, I hear him shout, ‘GOHHHHHHHHH BIHHHHHHG REHHHHHHHD,’ and then me and all my friends—I keep a real tight Nebraska/Omaha crew—we all hollered back with the classic call and response: Go Big Red!” 


Follow Adam Devine on Instagram (@andybovine) and Twitter (@adamdevine).

This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Ted Genoways

August 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Award-winning poet, journalist, editor, and author Ted Genoways of Lincoln, Nebraska, has long been recognized for his social justice writing as a contributor to Mother Jones, onEarth, Harper’s and other prestigious publications. While editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, the magazine won numerous national awards. 

His recent nonfiction books—The Chain: Farm, Factory and the Fate of Our Food, and This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm—expand on his enterprise reporting about the land, the people who work it, and the food we consume from it. The themes of sustainability, big ag versus little ag, over-processing of food, and environmental threats are among many concerns he explores.

He often collaborates on projects with his wife, photographer Mary Anne Andrei.

His penchant for reporting goes back to his boyhood, when he put down stories people told him, even illustrating them, in a stapled “magazine” he produced. His adult work took root in the form of secondhand stories of his paternal grandfather toiling on Nebraska farms and in Omaha meatpacking plants. 

His father noted this precociousness with words and made a pact that if young Ted read a book a week selected for him, he could escape chores. 

“I thought that was a great deal,” Genoways says. “Reading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men was the first time I remember being completely hooked. After that, I tore through everything Steinbeck wrote, and it made a huge impact on me. I thought, there’s real power in this—if you can figure out how to do it this well.”

Reading classics by Hemingway, Faulkner, and other great authors followed. The work of muckrakers such as Upton Sinclair made an impression. “But those Steinbeck books,” he says, “have always really stuck with me, and I go back to them and they really hold up.”

Exposing injustice—just as Steinbeck did with migrants and Sinclair did with immigrants—is what Genoways does. Nebraska Wesleyan professors Jim Schaffer and the late state poet of Nebraska William Kloefkorn influenced his journalism and poetry, respectively. Genoways doesn’t make hard and fast distinctions between the two forms. Regardless of genre, he practices a form of advocacy journalism but always in service of the truth.

“I’m always starting with the facts and trying to understand how they fit together,” he says. “There’s no question I’ve got a point of view. But I don’t show up with preconceived notions of what the story is.”

He’s drawn to “stories of people at the mercy of the system,” he says, admitting, “I’m interested in the little guy and in how people fight back against the powers that be.”

While working at the Minnesota State Historical Society Press, Genoways released a book of poems, Bullroarer: A Sequence, about his grandfather, and edited Cheri Register’s book Daughter of a Meatpacker. At the Virginia Quarterly, he looked into worker illnesses at a Hormel plant in Austin, Minnesota, and the glut of Latinos at a Hormel plant in Fremont, Nebraska. He found a correlation between unsafe conditions due to ever-faster production lines—where only immigrants are willing to do the job—and the pressures brought to bear on company towns with influxes of Spanish-speaking workers and their families, some of them undocumented.

That led to examining the impact “a corporate level decision to run the line faster in order to increase production has up and down the supply chain” and on entire communities. 

“That’s become an ongoing fascination for me,” Genoways says. “I can’t seem to stop coming back to what’s happening in meatpacking towns, which really seem to be on the front line of a lot of change in this country.”

The heated controversy around TransCanada Corp.’s plans for the Keystone XL pipeline ended up as the backdrop for his book, This Blessed Earth. He found “the specter of a foreign corporation coming and taking land by eminent domain” from legacy farmers and ranchers “and telling them they had to take on this environmental risk with few or no guarantees” to be yet another challenge weighing on the backs of producers.

His focus became a fifth-generation Nebraska farm family, the Hammonds, who grow soybeans, and how their struggles mirror all family farmers in terms of “how big to get and how much risk to assume.”

“They were especially intriguing because they were building this solar and wind-powered barn right in the path KXL decided to cross their land, and that seemed like a pretty great metaphor for that kind of defiance,” he says. 

Pipeline or not, small farmers have plenty to worry about.

“Right now, everything in ag is geared toward getting bigger,” Genoways says. “The question facing the entire industry is: How big is big enough? What do we lose when we force farmers off the land or make them into businessmen more than stewards of the land? To my eye, you lose agri-CULTURE and are left with agri-BUSINESS.”

Farming as a way of life is endangered.

“Nebraska lost a thousand farms in 2017,” he says. “Those properties will be absorbed by larger operations. The ground will still be farmed. The connection between farmer and farm will be further stretched and strained. That’s the way everything has gone, and it’s how everything is likely to continue. Agribusiness interests argue these trends move us toward maximum yield with improved sustainability. But it also means decisions are made by fewer and fewer people. Mistakes and misjudgments are magnified. So we not only lose the culture of independence and responsibility that built rural communities, but grow more dependent on a version of America run by corporations.”

Chronicling the Hammonds left indelible takeaways—one being the varied skills farming requires. 

“We saw them harvest a field of soybeans while keeping an eye on the futures trading and calling around to elevators to check on prices; they were making market decisions as sophisticated as any commodities trader,” Genoways says. “This is one of the major pressures on family farms. To survive, you have to be able to repair your own center pivot or broken tractor, but also be a savvy business owner—adapting early to technological changes and diversifying to insulate your operation.”

The Hammonds weathered the storm.

“They are doing well. They got good news when the Public Service Commission only approved the alternate route for KXL,” he says.

Meanwhile, Genoways sees an American food system in need of reform.

“We would benefit mightily from a national food policy,” he says. “How can you explain subsidizing production of junk food and simultaneously spending on obesity education? How do we justify unsustainable volumes of meat while counseling people to eat less meat? If we really want people to improve their eating habits, we should provide economic incentives in that direction.”


Visit tedgenoways.com for more information.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. 

Be Your Own Pit Boss

July 17, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Growing up on a farm in northern Minnesota, barbecue enthusiast Gary Dunteman learned many skills. “When you’re a farm kid, you’ve got to be your own mechanic, you’ve got to be your own carpenter—you’ve got to learn how to do everything.” 

At 13, his dad taught him how to weld to fix machinery. Now his welding comes in handy as he tries out various techniques to create the perfect smoker.

Dunteman once built a 120-gallon smoker with a customized rotisserie rack out of an old air compressor tank from a service station. “People look at it and ask, ‘What is that?’” he says. “I can do 16 racks of ribs at one time.” 

He competes in statewide barbecue competitions on the team Hawgenz Heroz, and he gets a lot of looks when traveling to contests in his decommissioned ambulance. “I call her Rosalie,” he says. The ambulance used to serve the village of Rosalie, Nebraska. “Everybody should have an ambulance. An ambulance has a lot of storage room.” 

Dunteman, who works in packaging sales, first became interested in meat smoking when his former warehouse manager built a barrel smoker. “He brought it into work one day and made some ribs on it. I thought that was the most awesome thing that ever happened.” So Dunteman taught himself how to make his own smoker by watching “ugly drum smoker” videos on YouTube. 

Dunteman says his specialty air compressor smoker would be difficult for most grilling enthusiasts to make (due to the types of tools necessary). But he says that anyone can build their own barrel smoker. Dunteman built his in an afternoon and it cost him around $100 in materials. 

Steps: First, treat your barrel by “starting a big old fire” in it with wood and charcoal to season it. “You want to get it smoked up before you actually start cooking the meat in it.” He then took pieces from an old 21-inch Weber Grill. He repurposed the racks and used the bottom of the grill to make the lid. If you don’t have an old grill, you can purchase a smoker cover and a replacement cooking grate for the racks separately. 

To make the coal basket, he attached four carriage bolts to the bottom of the rack and then attached a 6-inch piece of expanded steel around it to make a basket. “I wrapped it around it and wired it to the rack.” He removed the handle from the side of the grill and put it on top of the smoker lid. He then drilled holes in the bottom of the barrel and attached caster wheels. 

He also put in a suspended water pan (a disposable aluminum dish) between the coal basket and the rack of meat. “The water simmers and keeps it moist and steams the meat as it’s getting smoked, so it doesn’t dry out the meat.” He recommends buying a smoker cover to protect from the rain. Dunteman says if taken care of, a barrel smoker will last a very long time, giving the user many years of savory memories.

Materials Needed 

  • 55-gallon refurbished steel barrel ($29.99 from Jones Barrel Co.) 
  • 4 caster wheels
  • Replacement cooking grate or a secondhand grate sourced from a 21-inch Weber Grill
  • Expanded sheet steel (12-by-24 inches)
  • 4 carriage bolts
  • Smoker cover
  • Disposable aluminum dish for water pan

Aside from the 55-gallon barrel, all of these parts can be purchased at local hardware stores.

This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of OmahaHome.

Cybersecurity

July 9, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

It was a Black Friday story that had nothing to do with holiday bargains. In 2013, cyber criminals hacked into Target Corp.’s customer database and stole as many as 40 million credit card numbers. Customer names, credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and CVV codes were reportedly compromised, presumably so hackers could use the data to make new cards. 

Customers everywhere were affected.

Leaders at Minnesota-based Target were horrified and embarrassed as the hack made international news. Amid criticism that the company should have done more to protect consumers—and an investigation launched by authorities in Nebraska and nearly every other state—Target later implemented a $5 million cybersecurity coalition charged with preventing such breeches from happening again. The total cost of the cyberattack on Target reached as high as $300 million, according to news reports. That included class action lawsuit settlements and money paid to credit card companies, banks, and credit unions.

While the damage was done, the retailer wasn’t alone. The financial loss from cybercrimes surpassed $1.3 billion in 2016, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center. There were nearly 300,000 complaints to the agency that year from businesses of all sizes.

Such cybercrimes have put companies everywhere on high alert—and looking at what cybersecurity measures they have in place. 

That includes businesses in Omaha. 

“We have to ask, ‘How do we endure security of information, customer privacy, systems compliance, the website, power stations, and landfill?’” says Joshua Mauk, the Omaha Public Power District director of security, whose job includes cybersecurity. “Our job is to implement a security program that helps us achieve all of those objectives across all of the district.” 

“Cybersecurity” sounds like a buzzword, but it’s a real concern among companies and law enforcement officials. The FBI says cybercrimes are becoming “more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated.” The agency reports that hackers target companies like Target for data and trade secrets, universities for research, and consumers for money and identity theft.

Along with being a monetary hassle, work is often disrupted or stopped altogether at companies, hospitals, even 911 centers. The hackers range from disgruntled or thrill-seeking computer geeks to international terrorists and spies looking for money to fund their operations. Even a small attack is a potential threat to national security. 

Some attacks target hardware and software, such as malware. Others are online fraud and phishing schemes, while yet others are considered “sexploitation,” according to Interpol. 

FBI officials say they have begun partnering with companies and organizations around the country as part of its cyber division’s efforts to boost cybersecurity nationwide. 

OPPD is one of them. The utility is working with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to try and prevent cybercrimes at the utility. If hackers took down OPPD’s system, then every single customer—or 820,000 people—could, theoretically, lose power indefinitely.

Mauk declined to specify OPPD’s cyber security program, citing security reasons. Other companies, including First National Bank of Omaha, declined to comment due to safety concerns. 

“There have been a number of utilities around the world that have been targeted,” Mauk says. “The biggest risk to us is someone coming in and taking down the entire system. The FBI and Homeland Security let us know about new risks, new threats, and we use that information to ensure we are adjusting those concerns to our cybersecurity program.” 

Omaha police acknowledge that while cybercrimes tend to fall under federal jurisdiction, they would investigate a cybercrime that occurred in the city. But most of the time, cyber attacks are conducted by people located in other states or countries—not local hackers. 

Police say some companies may experience a cyberattack, but neglect to report it to law enforcement due to the idea that it might harm their image or reputation. 

The Nebraska Attorney General’s Office has a cybercrimes division aimed at protecting Nebraskans from technology crimes through education and, in some cases, legal action. 

Take the Target data breach. Last year, Attorney General Doug Peterson announced that Nebraska had joined 46 other states and the District of Columbia to reach an $18.5 million settlement against the retail giant stemming from the incident. The state received $199,382 as its share. 

Peterson had said it was the largest multi-state data breach settlement to date. 

In October, Peterson’s office released a statement promoting cybersecurity in the workplace: 

“As recent major cybersecurity incidents have shown, cybercriminals often rely on human error—like failing to install software patches, clicking on malicious links, and creating easy-to-guess passwords—to gain access to systems and information. Every member of an organization—from senior leadership to the newest employees—is responsible for keeping information and systems secure. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. That’s why strong cybersecurity practices are so important.”

Authorities and security experts worry, though, that cybercrimes will continue and even increase as advances in technology are made. Officials and corporate security teams understand they have to stay two steps ahead, always. 

“This is definitely something we are investing in, from a people, processes, and technology standpoint,” Mauk says. “We will have additional layers of security to always protect the corporate side, critical infrastructure, and plants.” 


Visit the attorney general’s webpage, ago.nebraska.gov, for more information on cybersecurity.

This article was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B. 

Joshua Mauk

July/August 2018 Explore!

June 20, 2018 by and

Nebraska

Uncle Sam Jam! July 3 at Oak Lake Park, First and Charleston streets, Lincoln. Bring the whole family to Lincoln’s official celebration of Independence Day, featuring food, music, fireworks, and more. 402-441-7547.
lincoln.ne.gov 

Annual July Fourth Flea Market July 3-4 at Fairbury City Park, 421 Park Road, Fairbury. Spend two days celebrating America’s independence at the largest flea market in southeast Nebraska, where everything from dishes to clothes will be available for purchase, along with great food. A morning parade and a fireworks show at dusk will take place on July 4. 402-729-3221.
fairburyfleamarket.com 

1898 Independence Day Celebration July 4 at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, 3133 W. Highway 34, Grand Island. This summer tradition includes a parade, a concert, pie-eating contests, games, and more. 308-385-5316.
stuhrmuseum.org

Zoofest July 6-7, 14th and O streets, Lincoln. Taking place in front of the Zoo Bar, this festival will feature all-day performances from national and local musicians along with food, drinks, and merchandise for sale. 402-435-8754.
zoobar.com 

The Good Living Tour July 7 at City Park, 100 Third Ave., Red Cloud; July 20 at Johnny Carson Mural, 111 Third St.,  Norfolk. This statewide concert tour is back. Acts performing in Red Cloud are Root Marm Chicken Farm Jug Band, Rascal Martinez, Freakabout, and Lester Junction. Acts performing in Norfolk are Emily Bass and the Near Miracle, Bokr Tov, and The Belles. 308-386-8117.
goodlivingtour.com

Midwest Toy Farmers’ 31st Annual Toy Show July 8 at Northeast Community College, 801 E. Benjamin Ave., Norfolk. Midwest toy farmers will display and sell their toy trucks, tractors, and more at this annual event.
toyfarmer.com/showsauctions

Oregon Trail Days July 12-15 in Scottsbluff. This 97th annual event is one of the oldest community festivals in Nebraska. The celebration includes a kickoff barbecue, a hill climb bicycle ride to the top of Scotts Bluff National Monument, a chili cook-off, horseshoe tournament, and more. 308-632-2133.
oregontraildays.com

John C. Fremont Days July 13-15 in Fremont. This award-winning celebration of Fremont’s history offers education along with the “Cruisers on Main” car and bike show, a rodeo, an antique and collectors show, a parade, beautiful hot air balloon glow, and many more activities. This year’s festival is dedicated to the remembrance of World War I, and displays will be a part of this recognition of the Great War. 402-727-9428.
johncfremontdays.org

2018 MCA Mustang National Show July 13-15 at Pinnacle Bank Arena Festival Lot, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln. Spectators will be treated to a display of Mustangs along with approximately 500 other vehicles. 402-267-3665.
hoofbeatoflincoln.com

My Ántonia  July 20-22 at Red Cloud Opera House, 413 N. Webster St., Red Cloud. This play by A.P. Andrews, based on the novel by Willa Cather, follows the life of Ántonia, a young and lonely immigrant girl living with her family in Black Hawk, Nebraska, who befriends young Jim Burden. Their story is one of pioneer hardships, personal struggles, and the endurance of memory. 402-746-2641.
willacather.org 

Christofer Visser—Civil War Re-enactor July 20 at Schoolhouse Art Gallery & Nature Center, 427 Main St., Brownville. Spend an evening listening to Christofer Visser’s true historical stories along with unique stories pertaining to his travels. 402-825-4992.
brownville-ne.com 

Cornhusker State Games July 20-29, various locations in Lincoln, Omaha, and surrounding communities. This amateur sporting event offers participants the opportunity to compete in Olympic contests like gymnastics, track and field, and swimming, as well as more relaxed events like horseshoe pitching and chess. 402-471-2544.
cornhuskerstategames.com

Highway 66 Concourse Classic July 22 at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland. Come view the nation’s history of classic automobiles while viewing rare autos and motorcycles. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 402-944-3100.
sacmuseum.org 

Steve Miller Band & Peter Frampton Aug. 2 at Pinewood Bowl Theater, 3201 S. Coddington Ave., Lincoln. The two icons will perform hits from their legendary careers and jam together. 402-904-4444.
pinewoodbowltheater.com

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal Aug. 3-5 at Brownville Concert Hall, 126 Atlantic St., Brownville. Guests will be entertained by Hoyer and his band’s electrifying fusion of soul and funk. 402-825-3331.
brownville-ne.com 

Family Fun Carnival  Aug. 4 at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland. Animals, face painters, and balloon artists will be present at this kid-friendly event, which includes a large shuttle slide, a spacewalk, and a science lesson. 402-944-3100.
sacmuseum.org      

GSK Orange Run Aug. 4 at Fallbrook YMCA, 700 Penrose Drive, Lincoln. Offering both family-friendly and competitive activities, this event features a 1-mile fun run/walk and a 5K race aimed at promoting fitness, health, and fun.
lincolnrun.org 

NHRA Nebraska State Championships Aug. 4-5 at Kearney Raceway Park, 4860 Imperial Ave. Racers from all over the state will compete for the state title in this race. 308-750-2049.
krpi.com

Nebraska Rod & Custom Car Show Aug. 5 at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, 3133 W. Highway 34, Grand Island. Dozens of street rods, hot rods, customized vehicles, and historical American automobiles will be on display at the museum’s 1890s Railroad Town. 308-385-5316.
stuhrmuseum.org 

Nebraska Star Party Aug. 5-10 at Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, Highway 97 & Cedar Bay, Valentine. This week-long event dedicated to nature and the stars will entertain children and adults alike. Guests can learn how to explore the night sky and take educational tours of the surrounding area. 402-333-5460.
nebraskastarparty.org 

Kool-Aid Days Aug. 10-12 in downtown Hastings. Celebrate America’s beloved powdered drink mix, which was created in Hastings, with this weekend festival. Events include Kwickest Kool-Aid Drinking Contest, Jammers Boat Races, a fun run/walk, and more. 402-461-8405.
kool-aiddays.com

An Evening with Earth, Wind & Fire Aug. 14 at Pinewood Bowl Theater, 3201 S. Coddington Ave., Lincoln. Enjoy a night listening to the legendary tunes of this band whose works range from disco and funk to Latin and African music. 402-904-4444.
pinewoodbowltheater.com 

Columbus Days Aug. 16-19 in Columbus. Spend the weekend listening to live music, enjoying food, viewing the All Ford Car Show, a pedal tractor pull, a parade, and more. 402-564-2769.
facebook.com/columbusdays 

Nebraska Football Fanday Late August (date TBD) at Memorial Stadium, 1 Memorial Stadium Drive, Lincoln. Come to Memorial Stadium for a day full of events such as obtaining autographs, and meeting the coaching staff and players. 402-472-2263.
huskers.com

Nebraska State Fair Aug. 24-Sept. 3, 501 E. Fonner Park Road, Grand Island. Participate in traditional fair activities like livestock exhibits, a midway, and lots of fried food. Concerts include Kelly Clarkson, Sugarland, Up with People, and more. 308-382-1620.
statefair.org

Jason Mraz Aug. 30 at Pinewood Bowl Theater, 3201 S. Coddington Ave., Lincoln. The Grammy-award winning artist will entertain fans alongside his “Superband.” Brett Dennen will perform as a special guest.  402-904-4444.
pinewoodbowltheater.com

Iowa

Yankee Doodle Pops July 2 at Iowa State Capitol, E. Ninth St. and Grand Ave., Des Moines. The 25th annual performance by the Des Moines Symphony will entertain guests with a patriotic outdoor musical performance that ends with a display of fireworks over the city. This free event is welcome to all ages. 515-280-4000.
dmsymphony.org 

Independence Day July 4 at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. Celebrate America’s birthday with a family-oriented day of pie-eating contests, foot races, a town parade, and more. The celebration will also include the Walnut Hill Bluestockings playing baseball according to 1875 rules. 515-278-5286.
lhf.org

80/35 Music Festival 2018 July 6-7 at Western Gateway Park, 12th and Locust Streets, Des Moines. The 11th-annual music festival will entertain with over 50 musical performances, including Kesha and Phantogram as headliners.
80-35.com

Saturday In The Park July 7 at Grandview Park, 24th St. and Grandview Blvd., Sioux City. On July Fourth weekend, Sioux City hosts a free music festival featuring jazz legend Boz Scaggs and Grammy-winner Jason Isbell and the 400 unit. 712-277-2575.
saturdayinthepark.com

North Liberty Blues & BBQ July 14 at Centennial Park, St. Andrews Drive, North Liberty. Eat barbecue and listen to performances from regional blues musicians. Activities for children and craft beers are also featured.
northlibertyblues.org

Ioway Culture Day July 14 at Living History Farms, 11121 Hickman Road, Urbandale. Spend the day exploring the Ioway culture—the namesake of the state of Iowa. Guests can take a tractor-cart ride to a 1700-style Ioway farm where they can learn how the Ioway constructed their homes, farmed, and prepared food. In addition, guest speakers will impart their personal knowledge of Ioway tradition and technology. 515-278-5286.
lhf.org

Jamey Johnson July 20 at McGrath Amphitheater, 475 First St. S.W., Cedar Rapids. The award-winning singer and songwriter will entertain with his highly praised country hits. 319-362-1729.
mcgrathamphitheatre.com

46th Annual RAGBRAI July 22-28 across Iowa. Thousands of bicyclists will converge upon Iowa for one week in this annual event. This year’s event travels the state from Onawa in western Iowa to Davenport in eastern Iowa. Come for the ride, stay for the homemade pie found in each town along the route. 515-284-8341.
ragbrai.com

Nordic Festival July 26-28, 507 W. Water St., Decorah. For over 50 years, Decorah has welcomed visitors from around the world to a festival full of traditional crafts, food, colorful parades, musical performances, and a Saturday night fireworks show. 800-382-3378.
nordicfest.com

Friday Night Main Event LLC July 27 at Johnson County Fairgrounds, 4261 Oak Crest Hill Road SE., Iowa City. This event features  carnival rides, a rodeo, and a live performance from country artist Walker McGuire. 319-530-1170.
—fridaynightmainevent.org 2018 National Balloon Classic  July 27-Aug. 4 at the National Balloon Classic Memorial Balloon Field, 15335 Jewell St., Indianola. This event promises a spectacular visual experience, with nearly 100 hot air balloons adorning the sky, live music, glowing lights, and fireworks at night, along with other family-friendly attractions. 515-961-8415.
nationalballoonclassic.com

2018 Hinterland Music Festival  Aug. 3-4 at Avenue of the Saints Amphitheater, 3357 St. Charles Road, St. Charles. Guests will be entertained with music from a talented number of artists from around the country (and the world) with styles rooted in rock, country, and more. Performers include Sturgill Simpson, Chvrches, and Ancient Posse.
hinterlandiowa.com

newbo evolve Aug. 3-5, 1620 Second St. S.E., Cedar Rapids.  The 10th annual festival includes appearances by film director John Waters and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, a panel session by Olympic bronze medalist Adam Rippon, and performances from Maroon 5 and Kelly Clarkson. 319-398-5009.
gocedarrapids.com/newboevolve

The Second City Aug. 4 at Pearson Lakes Art Center, 2201 U.S. Highway 71, Okoboji.  This tour of Chicago’s legendary improv comedy theater features the troupe’s best sketches and songs. 712-332-7013.
lakesart.org

Iowa State Fair Aug. 9-19 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, E. 30th St. and E. University Ave., Des Moines. Revel in the family-friendly atmosphere of this annual and traditional event, featuring a butter cow, thrill parks, talent show, games, and much more. Special guests include Reba McEntire, Florida Georgia Line, and comedian Jim Gaffigan. 515-262-3111.
iowastatefair.org

FRYfrest Aug. 31, Quarry Road and E. Ninth St., Coralville. Join Hawkeye fans in this annual celebration of historic football coach Hayden Fry for a day of tailgating, live music, and autograph sessions from current and former football players. 319-337-6592.
fryfest.com

Kansas

14th Annual Heartland Art Guild International Miniatures Art Show July 2-31 at Paola Chamber of Commerce, Six W. Peoria, Paola. At this art display, all pieces must be 25 square inches or less in size, making it a display like no other. Over 180 works of art created by artists from the United States and beyond will be present. 913-294-4940.
artkc.com 

Junk ’N’ Donuts Swap Meets July 14 and Aug. 11 at Louisburg Cider Mill, 14730 K68 Highway, Louisburg. Grab a Lost Trail root beer and a cider donut, and shop around the Cider Mill where vendors will be selling antiques and other goods. 913-837-5202.
louisburgcidermill.com 

2018 Amelia Earhart Festival July 20-21 in Atchison. In an annual, honorary celebration of the city’s own pioneer, Atchison’s community will entertain with a carnival, an outdoor concert featuring country artists Brett Young and Maddie & Tae, food, aerobatic displays, historical presentations, and more—capped by a finale of fireworks. 1-800-234-1854.
visitatchison.com

Clue: The Musical July 20-Aug. 5 at Helen Hocker Theater, 700 S.W. Zoo Parkway, Topeka. This musical adaptation of the beloved board game invites the audience to guess the suspect via clues given out throughout the performance. Each performance offers a different conclusion, making the production a truly unique experience. 785-357-5211.
topekacivictheatre.com 

Blacksmiths and Pioneers Days  Aug. 18-19 at Transue Brothers Blacksmith and Wagon Shop, 309 Main St., Summerfield. Spend the weekend watching gun fights, riding in covered wagons and stage coaches, and observing the arts of blacksmithing, marble blowing, and other practices of the late 1800s. 402-520-0644.
transueblacksmith.org

Missouri

KC RiverFest July 4 at Berkley Riverfront Park, 1298 Riverfront Road, Kansas City.  This festival features live shows from the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America’s Jazz Ensemble and one of the largest fireworks shows in the Midwest.
kcriverfest.com

Paramore with Foster The People July 7 at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City. This American rock ’n’ roll band will perform their hits and will be joined by Foster The People. 816-363-7827.
kcstarlight.com

First Saturday Event  July 7 and Aug. 4 at Shoal Creek Living History Museum, 7000 N.E. Barry Road, Kansas City. This free event will introduce guests to the Missouri of the 19th century through historical demonstrations and activities. Re-enactors dressed as outlaws, mountain men, and other characters will participate in skits and gunfights. 816-792-2655.
shoalcreeklivinghistorymuseum.com

The Teddy Bear Picnic July 13, Roanoke Park, 3601 Roanoke Road, Kansas City. This celebration of National Teddy Bear Picnic Day will give families the opportunity to have a picnic with their teddy bears and participate in other activities. Janie Next Door will provide live music. 816-513-7500.
kcparks.org 

AquaPalooza July 21 at Lake of the Ozarks, 1232 Jeffries Road, Osage Beach. Bring the whole family and enjoy a day of boating, live music, and a visit to Dog Days Bar & Grill. 573-348-9797.
dogdays.ws 

Buzz Beach Ball Festival July 27 at Providence Medical Center Amphitheater, 633 N. 130th St., Bonner Springs. This up-and-coming music festival showcases a mixture of underground and indie rock/pop talent,  including Portugal. The Man, Awolnation, and Rainbow Kitten Surprise. 1-800-745-3000.
beachballkc.com

Heart of America Hot Dog Festival Aug. 4 at Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, 1616 E 18th St. Celebrate baseball and the all-American hot dog. Sample specially produced dogs like the Monarch, Royal Frank, and El Maestro, while providing music and family fun. Tickets to the festival include admission to the museum, which celebrates African-American baseball players. 816-221-1920.
nlbm.com

Feast of Fountains: A Food Truck Festival  Aug. 9 at The Northland Fountain in Anita B. Gorman Park, Vivion Road & N. Oak, Kansas City. Marvel at Kansas City’s mesmerizing fountains as part of this family-friendly event that also includes live music and a wide selection from a variety of food trucks. 816-513-7500.
kcparks.org 

The Farmer’s House Cornfest Aug. 11 at The Farmer’s House, 23200 Highway 273, Weston. This event includes a corn-eating contest, dunk tank, and duck races. Farm to Fork Kitchen will be serving barbecue, grilled corn on the cob, and hot apple fritters. 816-640-2909.
westonmo.com

Rod Stewart Aug. 14 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. The rock-and-roll icon will perform his greatest hits with Cyndi Lauper as special guest. 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

Love Never Dies Aug. 14-19 at Starlight Theatre, 4600 Starlight Road, Kansas City. This sequel to The Phantom of the Opera takes place in 1907 New York, in which the Phantom tries to reclaim the love of Christine Daaé. 816-363-7827.
kcstarlight.com 

Ethnic Enrichment Festival Aug. 17-19 at Swope Park, 3999 Swope Parkway in Kansas City. This event features more than 60 different cultures selling their native foods and crafts, and performing ethnic music and dances. 816-513-7553.
eeckc.net

Trails West! 2018 Aug. 17-19 at Civic Center Park, 900-1200 Francis St., St Joseph. This community celebration features visual and musical artists along with a wide variety of food. 816-233-0231.
stjomo.com 

Sam Smith Aug. 18 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Smith will entertain guests with his signature soulful style. 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

Happy Together Tour 2018 Aug. 19 at Muriel Kauffman Theatre, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. Named after the hit song by The Turtles, this event brings together some popular bands of the 1960s as they perform their hits, which defined a generation. Acts include The Turtles, The Association, The Cowsills, and more. 816-994-7222.
theturtles.com


Event times and details may change. 

Check with venue or event organizer to confirm.

Eric Falk’s Mean Green Pulling Machine

June 17, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Horsepower, innovation, and family-friendly fun are at the heart of truck and tractor pulling.

The popular motorsport evolved from the agrarian tradition of horse pulling, in which farmers urged their teams to pull sleds along a dirt track while friends and neighbors piled on rocks until the horses could pull no more. The team pulling the farthest won.

Today, it is the innovation of truck and tractor owners on display, and while the bragging rights are the same, everything from the horsepower to the weighted sleds is mechanized. Modified tractors and trucks pull a sled designed to increase its resistance up to 50,000 pounds, says local promoter Kurt Schanou. Vehicles accelerate from zero to 40 mph and back within 325 feet, often less. Horsepower levels of top trucks can be well north of 1,000, and revolutions per minute can approach 10,000.

“It’s like a tug-o-war of machinery and engineering. The reward is more pride than financial,” according to Schanou, who says that competitors work hard to support the sport and build machines capable of pulling a Greyhound bus. “For most, it’s largely still a hobby that they have grown to love.”

Erik Falk is the 39-year-old co-owner of Rainbow Glass and Supply Inc. in Papillion and a member of Nebraska Bush Pullers. The Springfield resident has been a fan of power pulling since he was a kid.

“My passion with truck pulling and motorsports in general started early,” Erik says. “My dad had the same passion and took my brother Bret and I to every motorsport event around the area.”

The Falk brothers started drag racing in high school and continued until Erik and his wife, Megan, decided to have children.

“We took a few years off until Bret decided he wanted to build a diesel truck puller,” he says. “We had been pulling in the local county fairs for quite some time, but just with our stock trucks. We wanted to step it up and built a dedicated, professional puller.”

And so, Nantucket Slayride was born—a diesel-powered homage to New England’s whaling industry.

“My dad came up with the name way back when we were drag racing,” Erik says. “Whalers on small boats would harpoon a whale and just hang on for a ‘Nantucket sleigh ride.’ I thought it was a unique name, changed the spelling, and put it on the truck.”

Nantucket Slayride began as a stock 1973 Chevy with a 3/4-ton frame and a 1984 cab. Erik amusingly remembers his first pull in 2012 with The Nebraska Power Pullers at an event in Wahoo.

“My first time out, I was probably overconfident and thought I was going to show these guys how it should be done. I remember revving the engine and letting the clutch out and then not really going anywhere too quick. The tires were spinning and not hooked to the dirt. I think we got last place that time.”

Erik learned pretty quickly to modify his truck and driving style for better results. Before long, he was justifying three-hour road trips for a minute on the track with sweet victory.

“After we figured out what parts to run and what not to, we started having a lot of success,” he says. “I was running two classes with the power pullers. [Various pull classes range from lightweight tractors to various classifications that include trucks, semis, and even super-modified tractors packed with airplane engines]. We were 2014 points runner-up in both classes, 2015 points champion in both, 2016 Bush Pullers runner-up, 2017 Bush Pullers champion, and 2017 Bush Pullers Puller of the Year.”

Erik’s most notable win was at the 2017 Cornhusker Classic indoor pull. “We were out-gunned, but everything went our way, and we snuck in a victory,” he says.

Today, Nantucket Slayride bears little resemblance to the unmodified version.

“The truck chassis is designed to put as much weight forward as possible to help the front tires dig,” he says. “The weight of the sled takes care of the back tires. The motor is based off a big block Chevy, and out of a National Hot Rod Association pro stock car. It has been reworked to 485 cubic inches and limited to a single carburetor.”

Erik says power pulling is worth every minute and dollar spent on it: “We have a great time as a family and have met lifelong friends along the way. Who could ask for a better hobby?” 


Visit propulling.com and outlawpulling.com for updated schedules and events in the region.

This article was printed in the May/June 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.

2018 May/June Explore!

May 2, 2018 by

Nebraska

Cranes: Taking Flight Through May 13 at the Museum of Nebraska Art, 2401 Central Ave., Kearney. This showcase contains various art forms aimed at capturing the magic of the annual migration of the sandhill crane over the heart of Nebraska. 308-865-8559.
visitnebraska.com

Looking Past Skin: Our Common Threads Through May 15 at the Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall N., Lincoln. Learn about the way Nebraska has been enriched by the movement of various peoples, from Native American cultures to refugees. This free exhibit provides education on the impact of migration within the state and explains the challenges of living in a foreign country. 402-471-4782.
history.nebraska.gov

Outdoor Exhibits Opening Day May 1 at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, 3133 W. Highway 34, Grand Island. Go back in time and learn about the pioneers while touring buildings and meeting historical interpreters of the time period. The Railroad Town, Antique Auto and Farm Machinery Building, Pawnee Earth Lodge, log cabin, rural church, and rural school will all open for the season. 308-385-5316.
stuhrmuseum.org

Nebraska Wine & Jazz Festival May 4-5 at Buffalo County Fairgrounds Exposition Building, 3807 Ave. N, Kearney. This 11th annual event showcases beverages from a number of Nebraska wineries and micro-breweries, with live jazz music performed by talented musicians. 308-237-3114.
wineandjazzfest.org

Fort Kearny Outdoor Expo May 12 at Fort Kearny State Recreation Area, 1020 V Road, Kearney. This family-friendly event caters to those who are interested in Nebraska’s outdoor activities and wildlife. Fishing, camping, and archery are but a few of the offered recreational opportunities. A park entry permit is required. 402-471-6009.
fortkearnyexpo.com

Corteo by Cirque Du Soliel May 17-20 at Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln. Witness the musical and acrobatic tale of a clown’s imagined funeral that brings together the comic and the tragic in a colorful carnival atmosphere. 402-904-4444.
pinnaclebankarena.com

Impractical Jokers May 18 at Pinewood Bowl Theater, 3201 S. Coddington Ave., Lincoln. As part of their “Santiago Sent Us” tour, the four stars of the hit show Impractical Jokers will take the stage and entertain with their hilarious sketches and improv. 402-904-4444.
lincoln.org

Free park entry/fishing day May 19 at any state park or recreation area. Get out and enjoy nature during this day, which allows free access to state parks, state recreation areas, or state historical parks across Nebraska. 402-471-0641.
outdoornebraska.org

Duck ’N’ Run Family Fun Day May 19 at Fairbury Community Building, 601 City Park Road, Fairbury. This Saturday devoted to family activities offers a one-mile duck dash for the kids and a competitive 10K run and a two-mile run/walk for the adults. Additional kid-friendly activities include a “lucky duck” drawing with cash prizes. 402-729-3000.
fairbury.com

20th Annual Tallgrass Prairie Fiddle Festival  May 26 at Homestead National Monument, 8523 West State Highway 4, Beatrice. Over 30 fiddlers will compete for more than $3,000 in cash prizes at this event. Other events include harmonica and fiddling workshops, and an acoustic band competition. 402-223-3514.
nps.gov

Annual Brownville Spring Flea Market May 26-28 in Brownville. Come and see what hundreds of vendors bring to this annual tradition, including recycled and upcycled products, food, and antiques. 402-825-6001.
brownvillehistoricalsociety.org

63rd annual Willa Cather Spring Conference May 31-June 2 at National Willa Cather Center, 413 N. Webster St., Red Cloud. This  year’s conference celebrates the 100th anniversary of My Antonia. The keynote speaker is Nina McConigley. 866-731-7304.
willacather.org

Rock Creek Trail Days June 2-3 at Rock Creek Station Historical Park, 57426 710th Road, Fairbury. This event features a re-enactment of Wild Bill Hickok’s legendary conflict with David McCanles, mule-pulled wagon rides, and a buffalo stew cookout, among other historical activities. A park entry permit is required. 402-729-5777.
fairburychamber.org

Nebraskaland Days June 13-23 at Wild West Arena, 2400 N. Buffalo Bill Ave., North Platte. Cowboy up at this festival celebrating Nebraska’s country heritage. The PRCA Buffalo Bill Rodeo features fan favorites such as bull riding, steer roping, and more. The event also includes parades, an antique car show, quilt show, tennis tournaments, and much more.  Florida-Georgia Line and Alabama headline the entertainment. 308-532-7939.
nebraskalanddays.com

33rd Annual Wagons West Celebration June 16 at the Trails & Rails Museum, 710 W. 11th St., Kearney. This festival includes live music, games for children, great food, contests, and educational demonstrations. 308-234-3041.
bchs.us

Father’s Day June 17 at Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland. Plan an adventure for your dad this year and treat him to a visit to the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.  All dads (accompanied by family) enjoy free admission to the museum. There will be a museum tour at 11 a.m., a crawl through of the C-54 “Skymaster”  from noon-2 p.m.
sacmuseum.org

Homestead days June 23-24 at Homestead National Monument, 8523 W. State Highway Four. See how life was lived in the late 1800s through stage performances, demonstrations of traditional crafts and farm machinery, a re-enactment of a Civil War encampment, children’s festival, and more. 402-223-3514.
nps.gov

Full Moon Bonfire—with Storyteller Darrel Draper in Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider President June 30 at Wostrel Family’s Union Orchard, 2405 S. Highway 75, Union. Dressed as the 26th President of the United States of America, Darrel Draper delivers an enthusiastic performance pertaining to “Teddy” Roosevelt’s historically important and entertaining run for a third term as president. 402-263-4845.
unionorchard.com


Iowa

Spring Sip, Taste & Stroll May 4 in Downtown Burlington, 400 N. Front St., Burlington. Spend the evening visiting various downtown wineries and breweries while tasting samples and strolling around the area’s shops. 319-752-6365.
greaterburlington.com

Maifest May 5-6 at the Amana Colonies. Guests of this festival will be treated to entertainment rooted in German tradition, including Maipole dancers and wonderful music. Additionally, the World-on-Wheels food-truck fair will serve international cuisine, and guests can also stroll from store to store tasting samples as part of the Wine, Beer, and Chocolate Walk. 319-622-7622.
festivalsinamana.com

Orange City Tulip Festival May 17-19 in Orange City. This event, which began in 1936, celebrates Dutch heritage and consists of beautiful tulips, dances performed in traditional Dutch clothing, daily parades, old-country foods, and more. 712-707-4510.
octulipfestival.com

41st annual Houby Days May 18-20 at the Czech Village in Cedar Rapids. Celebrate spring with a carnival, live music, traditional Czech dances and food, and more. 319-398-5009.
gocedarrapids.com

80th annual North Iowa Band Festival May 24-28 in Mason City. Seventy-six trombones (or more) will parade through the streets of this Iowa town, where Music Man composer Meredith Wilson lived. Along with marching bands, this festival includes a carnival, food, games, and live entertainment. 641-423-5724.
masoncityia.com

John Wayne Birthday Celebration May 25-26 in Winterset. America’s favorite Western star was born in the heart of Iowa, and this two-day festival will celebrate him with a horse parade, 5K run/walk, a benefit auction, and movies. Red Steagall headlines the live entertainment. 515-462-1044.
johnwaynebirthplace.museum

Annual Tivoli Fest May 26-May 27 in Elk Horn. Celebrate all things Danish at this annual spring festival, which includes Danish food, dances, live entertainment, fireworks, and more. 712-764-7001.
danishmuseum.org

2018 Wizard Festival & Quidditch Matches June 2 at Moonstone Lavender Gardens, 1449 240th Ave., Thurman. This is a celebration of all things Harry Potter. Activities include magic lessons from Professors McGonegall, Snape, and others, as well as an opportunity to learn and play Quidditch. Costume contests, music, and food are also included. 712-628-2113.
moonstonelavender.com

Ice Cream Days June 13-16, Le Mars. Come to the “Ice Cream Capital of the World,” home of Blue Bunny Ice Cream, for events for the whole family, including a parade, a Grill-n-Chill Rib Rally, live music, and more. 712-546-8821.
lemarsiowa.com

36th Annual Walnut Antique Show June 15-17 in Walnut. Spend Father’s Day weekend at Walnut’s nationally celebrated antique show. With over 350 dealers of antiques and collectibles lining the city’s historic streets, this event is more than an antique show—it is a spectacular display of community and tradition. 712-784-3443.
walnutantiqueshow.com

Wurst Festival June 16 in the Amana Colonies. While sampling sausages from the area’s best sausage makers and sipping on cold drinks, guests can listen to live music, play games, and watch as dachshunds race one another as part of the second annual Dachshund Derby. 319-622-7622.
festivalsinamana.com

Trekfest XXXIV June 29-30 at Hall Park, Riverside. Featuring live music, a demolition derby, activities for kids, and a life-size statue of Captain Kirk, this StarTrek-themed extravaganza, held in the captain’s fictional hometown, is sure to entertain all ages.
trekfest.org


Kansas

KS Food Truck Festival. May 5, 9th and Pennsylvania streets, Lawrence. This one-day festival features more than 25 food trucks with offerings from across the world, with live entertainment. Proceeds benefit Just Food, the Douglas County Food Bank. 785-856-3040.
ksfoodtruckfest.com

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota Tundra 250 & Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series May 11-12 at Kansas Speedway, 400 Speedway Blvd., Kansas City. On May 11, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series returns for this 250-mile race. May 12 is the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Martin Truex Jr. will defend his title and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson will also race that night. 866-460-7223.
kanssspeedway.com

Lawrence Busker Festival 2018 May 25-27, Downtown, 8th to 11th streets, and Vermont to New Hampshire streets, Lawrence. This annual event invites everyone to enjoy a get-weird-weekend. Unusual live performances by artists, both local and global. Don’t miss the Busker Ball at the Lawrence Arts Center. 785-843-2787.
lawrencebuskerfest.com

Sunflower Music Festival June 22-30, White Concert Hall, 1700 S.W. College Ave., Topeka. This 10-concert series on the Washburn University campus features orchestra, chamber ensembles, jazz, and student ensembles. 785-670-1396.
sunflowermusicfestival.org


Missouri

Off the Wall: Pop Hits of the ’80s with the Kansas City Jazz Orchestra May 4 at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, 1601 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City. Travel back to the decade in which Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and others ruled the charts. 816-994-7200.
tickets.kauffmancenter.org

Ninth Annual Sikeston Jaycees Crawfish Boil & Music Festival May 5 at Sikeston Rodeo Grounds, 1220 N. Ingram Road, Sikeston. This event offers wonderful Louisiana crawfish and live music in a friendly atmosphere. Activities for the whole family are also scheduled. 573-931-0099.
sikeston.net

Gatsby Days May 10-13 in Excelsior Springs. Break out the beads, fringe, and zoot suits for this homage to the roaring ’20s. Events include a fashion stroll, antique car parade, a Gin & Jazz party, vaudeville performances, and more. 816-630-6161.
exspgschamber.com

Discovery Day May 19 at Lewis and Clark State Park, 801 Lake Crest Blvd., Rushville. Explore and learn about the wildlife and wildflowers that inhabit Gosling Lake Trail and Lewis and Clark Lake. Guests can also learn about the Corps of Discovery expedition and even look at a model keelboat. 816-579-5564.
mostateparks.com

Jimmy Buffett & the Coral Reefer Band May 19 at Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of his album Son of a Son of a Sailor, the iconic singer will take the stage and entertain with his timeless hits. He will also stop in Des Moines on May 22. 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

Poison May 25 at the Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. The world-famous rock band will take the stage as part of their “Nothin’ But A Good Time 2018” tour with special guest Cheap Trick. 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com

Festa Italiana June 1-3 at Zona Rosa, 8640 N. Dixson Ave., Kansas City. With great Italian food, a beer garden, an Italian car show, and much more, this annual event celebrating Italian and Italian-American culture is sure to entertain the whole family. 816-587-8180.
zonarosa.com

Renditions Polish Pottery Festival June 9 in Weston. This celebration of Polish culture includes live music, dancing, traditional food, and displays of unique pottery and art. 816-640-2909.
westonmo.com

Kesha & Macklemore June 26 at the Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. “The Adventures of Kesha and Macklemore” tour will bring the two superstars together as they put on a spectacular show. 816-949-7100.
sprintcenter.com


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

Taking Time To Design

April 9, 2018 by
Photography by Jeremy Allen Wieczorek

90 seconds.

In a little over a minute, a buyer falls in love with a house. That’s all it takes.

It happened to Aubrey Hess. She knew it immediately when she entered the front doors of the two-and-a-half-story American foursquare house. She called her husband Corey in a panic.

“This is it,” Aubrey said. “Get over here.”

Aubrey realized it needed some work. She should know. Aubrey, a realtor for the past 12 years with Better Homes and Gardens, has stepped into countless homes. Only a few have grabbed her attention.

But something in those seconds on 110 S. 52nd St. moved her. She looked beyond the peel-and-stick laminated tile, the orange-tinted wooden floors, and lackluster yellow walls. Aubrey saw potential. Corey, an architect with DLR Group, realized it despite knowing the electric wiring and roof needed work. No “little pink houses” on this block. Instead, the uniqueness of the midtown neighborhood appealed to the creative couple. The added space would be ideal for their two growing girls, Emerson and Montgomery.

The first month became a flurry of activity. Walls deserved a fresh coat of paint, light fixtures became interesting pieces of art, and wooden floors were unveiled. Birch on the main level, oak on the second, and pine on the third. Pine possibly due to the history of the almost 100-year-old house. Live-in servants typically utilized the third floor, so owners didn’t dish out the most expensive wood.

The bones of the house have remained, giving it a bygone vibe. The dining room has a small circle service bell built into the flooring from days past. Rooms have the original old-fashioned swinging and hidden pocket doors. The light switches don’t flip, but are still the same push buttons from the 1900s. Corey even cooked the heavily painted doorknobs in a crockpot with soap and vinegar to keep the novelty intact.

“We wanted to be respectful to the topology,” Corey says. “What’s the point of buying the house otherwise?”

The house has character, and little touches like these add flavor to the couple’s eclectic, “kick of fun” ideas. A gold chicken-legged end table stands next to a black cowhide in the “smoking room.” Meanwhile, a twisty white papier-mâché night table complements a slat metal headboard in the guest room.   

After the family moved in, Aubrey wasn’t sure how to finish off the last bit of the house. Luckily, interior designer Roger Hazard sat next to her at a charity event and the two talked wallpaper.

Every single project provides a challenge. In this case, it seemed to be a matter of cohesion. Hazard has visited with homeowners in every single state and made his mark making homes interesting. His bold style landed him three hit television shows on A&E—Sell This House, Move this House, and Sell This House: Extreme—as well as two Emmy nominations.

Hazard, along with husband Chris Stout, decided they wanted a change from the fast-paced lifestyle of traveling road shows. The two established Roger + Chris, “the home of the unboring home.” Hazard saw cool development opportunities and hype in Nebraska.

“Omaha is going to be a hot spot in the next 10 years,” Hazard predicts.

The two settled in to design different styles from contemporary to conservative to traditional. Hazard first created a presence in each room for the Hess family. The upstairs hall was painted with a large splash of emerald green while the color continues with a smaller presence in the velvet drapes in the smoking room.

In addition, Hazard and Stout make and name their own furniture. “Bunny” is a black-and-white striped loveseat with a hyacinth-colored interior, which will be placed to the right of the front door.

“Stripes are my favorite color,” Aubrey jokes.

The house is a mix of materials, fabrics, and textures. Plus, it harbors a touch of masculine and feminine. For example, pink velvet chairs in the dining room mingle with a gray tweed couch.

It is relaxed, yet stimulating. The family loves to entertain, so each room is a talking point. Rorschach flashcards are framed and hung on one graphite gray wall. Guests can interpret the psychological blots.

“I would rather buy something fun to mess up than something boring,” Aubrey adds.

This rustic refinement is perfect for a family that loves to eat, play, and have fun. It gives her daughters room to play. The custom-made walnut tree dining room table is strewn with a puzzle the girls started to piece together. Corey, along with a friend, designed the black-bottom base. The family also spends hours in the smoking room—not smoking—reading because the sun warms the area with light. A concrete coffee table in the living room can be moved aside when dance parties break out.

The Hess girls do spend time in their bedrooms, preferring alone time during the day, though the two are inseparable at night. Rather than the typical pink walls, both rooms are adorned instead with empowering quotes from strong women such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Emerson, 8, likes the big house but isn’t a fan of the kitchen (which the family still plans to redo). Other small parts also need fixing up, such as the bathrooms. 

And the basement is currently a work in progress. Corey exposed some bright brick and the trim has been replaced. Hazard plans to add hot pops of pink, blue, and orange to give it high energy. It won’t even feel like a basement, more modern and loft-like.

“We will hopefully be done by 2019,” Aubrey says with a laugh.

These two busy parents fit in bursts of inspiration when possible. Photos and framed artwork from their kids once took two long nights to finish. The grass out front has been replaced with synthetic turf so less time is spent on the lawn and more on relaxation. It’s one of the reasons why the two have spent time and effort designing it—so it will be a place of comfort and joy for the entire family.

Visit rogerandchris.com for more information about the A&E celebrity couple involved with the Hess family home’s redesign.

This article was printed in the March/April 2018 edition of OmahaHome.