Tag Archives: Fort Atkinson State Historical Park

2017 November/December Explore!

Photography by contributed

State of Nebraska

Nebraska: Thomas Hart Benton—MONA Collection. Through Feb. 25, Museum of Nebraska Art, 2401 Central Ave., Kearney. Celebrate Nebraska’s 150th statehood anniversary with this MONA exhibit, which will show the only 28-piece set of Benton’s gouache paintings, including the pieces featured in the 1945 book The Oregon Trail. 308-865-8559.

Hayrack Rides, Storytelling and S’mores in Nebraska City Nov. 3-4 and 10-11

Hayrack Rides, Storytelling and S’mores. Nov. 3-4 and 10-11, Lied Lodge and Conference Center, 2700 Sylvan Road, Nebraska City. Guests will spend the evening sipping apple cider, listening to stories, making s’mores, and taking hayrack rides at Arbor Day farm. Reservations required. 800-546-5433.

Fort Atkinson Candlelight Tour 2017. Nov. 4, Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, 201 S. Seventh St., Fort Calhoun. Take a guided tour of the fort by candlelight. The evening also includes a mystery, based on actual events. Each stop along the way will reveal another part of the plot. Reservations required. 402-445-0706.

27th Annual Frost Frolic Holiday Market. Nov. 4, Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 56885 PWF Road, Fairbury. Kick off the holiday season early at this 27th annual event. Explore a variety of décor from artisan crafts and goods from popular vendors. 402-300-7146.

A Brownville Christmas Concert. Nov. 8-10, Brownville Concert Series and Hall, 126 Atlantic St., Brownville.  Experience a Brownville Christmas at the Home for the Holidays concert. Performances will feature award-winning musicians and vocalists. 402-825-3331.

Veterans Day. Nov. 11, Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland. Honor military veterans at a special program, including the posting of colors and lunch with keynote speaker Major Cory Kuehn, the assistant director of operations in the 740th Missile Squadron at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Veterans are encouraged to come in uniform. 402-944-3100.

Gateway Farm Expo. Nov. 15-16, Buffalo County Fairgrounds, 3807 Ave. North, Kearney. Guests will see the latest agriculture technology and services at this 49th annual expo, which will feature more than 400 exhibits and free barbecue. 308-234-2717.

North Pole Express in Lincoln Dec. 1-3, 8-10, and 15-17

North Pole Express. Nov. 18 and 25, Stuhr Museum, 3133 W. U.S. Highway 34, Grand Island. Children will enjoy taking a trip to the North Pole through songs, stories, and much more, while on a real train car. Reservations required. 308-385-5316.

Christmas at the Mansion. Nov. 18-Dec. 23, Lied Lodge and Conference Center, 2700 Sylvan Road, Nebraska City. Go back in time and tour the historic 52-room mansion with vintage-inspired decorations and holiday-themed displays. 800-546-5433.

Christmas at Cody Park. Nov. 26-Dec. 30 at Cody Park, 1601 N. Jeffers St., North Platte. Come to Santa’s workshop, drop off a letter for the big guy, and enjoy free carousel and glider rides during this special time at the park. Special events, such as music, movies, or parades, occur throughout the month. 308-535-6700.

Fantasy of Trees. Nov. 24, 2017-Jan. 2, 2018, Stuhr Museum, 3133 W. U.S. Highway 34, Grand Island. View dozens of lavishly decorated trees on display at the various historic buildings at this museum that celebrates Nebraska. 308-385-5316.

Holiday Trolley Tour of Lights. Fridays and Saturdays in December, Lied Lodge and Conference Center, 2700 Sylvan Road, Nebraska City. Guests will ride the Arbor Day Farm trolley to tour Nebraska City’s Christmas lights display and listen to classic Christmas stories. 800-546-5433.

North Pole Express. Dec. 1-3, 8-10, and 15-17, Lincoln Children’s Zoo, 1222 S. 27th St., Lincoln. Climb aboard the North Pole Express to write a letter to Santa, and visit the man himself. The train will also stop at the Claus’ house to see Mrs. Claus and the elves, and taste some cookies. 402-475-6741.

Santa goes to Space. Dec. 2, Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum, 28210 W. Park Highway, Ashland. Santa and Star Wars characters are teaming up for Space Day. Take photos with the man in red and Stormtroopers from the 501st Legion, and enjoy planetarium showings and holiday activities. 402-944-3100.

23rd Annual Historical Christmas Dinner and Light Up the Fort. Dec. 2 Fort Robinson State Park, Crawford. Guests can see the historical fort buildings decorated in Christmas lights and enjoy a historical Christmas dinner. 308-665-2592.

Tommy Emmanuel Christmas Classics Tour. Dec. 5, Rococo Theatre, 140 N. 13th St., Lincoln. Tommy Emmanuel will preform Christmas classics with Pat Bergeson, John Knowles, Annie Sellick, and a live orchestra. 402-476-6540.

Jay-Z: 4:44 Tour. Dec. 6, Pinnacle Bank Arena, 400 Pinnacle Arena Drive, Lincoln
Grammy-award winning hip-hop artist Jay-Z performs hits from his 4:44 album in Lincoln. 402-904-4444.


The Color Purple in Des Moines through Nov. 5

The Color Purple. Through Nov. 5, Des Moines Civic Center, 221 Walnut St., Des Moines. Experience a re-enactment of Tony Award-winning musical The Color Purple, featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, and blues music. This play explores a woman’s journey living in the South. 515-246-2300.

Des Moines Holiday Boutique. Nov 3-5, Iowa Events Center, 730 Third St., Des Moines. Don’t miss the shopping event of the season. The holiday boutique will feature over 200 companies and vendors selling apparel, jewelry, holiday décor, and gourmet food. 515-564-8000.

Sioux City Symphony Orchestra: Disney Fantasia Live in Concert. Nov. 18, Orpheum Theater, 528 Pierce St., Sioux City. This show is a mash-up of the original Disney Fantasia and Fantasia 2000 performed with a live score.  712-244-5000.

Elf the Musical. Nov. 19, Orpheum Theater, 528 Pierce St., Sioux City. This show will feature the 2003 film’s storyline with new and exciting songs. 712-244-5000.

Sioux City Orchestra: Christmas with the Symphony. Dec. 9, Orpheum Theater, 528 Pierce St., Sioux City. Sit back, listen, and sing along to new and classic Christmas songs preformed by the Sioux City Orchestra. 712-244-5000. 


Through the Eyes of Picasso. Through April 8, 2018, Nelson-Aktins Museum of Art, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is the only United States arts venue to show this exhibit. Pablo Picasso was an avid collector of non-western art, and the collection was constant source of exploration and inspiration. The exhibition will feature 170 works, including more than 60 paintings, sculptures, and ceramics by Picasso alongside more than 20 works of African and Oceanic art that were part of his personal collection. 816-751-1278.

Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri Nov. 24

Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Nov. 24, Crown Center, 2405 Grand Blvd., Suite 200, Kansas City. Guests will witness the mayor light his 100-foot tall Christmas tree, and be able purchase hand-crafted ornaments carved out of last year’s tree. All ornament purchases will benefit the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which helps the city’s less fortunate. 816-274-8444.

Lady Gaga: World Tour. Nov. 15, Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Energetic artist Lady Gaga will be performing songs from her new World Tour album. 816-949-7100.

Christmas in the Sky. Nov. 22, 11101 Raytown Road, Kansas City. Jackson County Parks and Recreation is partnering with a radio station to light the sky with fireworks timed by Christmas songs. This 30th annual event will feature a cast of 100 singers and dancers. 816-503-4800.

Christmas Candlelight Tour: A Prairie Christmas. Nov. 24-25, 4000 Baltimore, Kansas City. Visit Kansas City’s oldest residence and enjoy an old-fashioned 1860s Christmas celebration with the Westport Historical Society. Tour the home of Col. John and Henrietta Harris, and watch realistic 1860 scenarios. 816-561-1821.

Holiday Park. Nov. 24-Jan.1 Krug Park to Hyde Park, St. Joseph. One of the largest annual holiday lights displays in northwest Missouri, this event started in 1981, and today more than 100,000 visitors drive through each year to see the lavish display of lighted arches and trees, winter scenes, and the park’s Italianate buildings outlined in lights. At the southern end of the parkway, Hyde Park is dazzlingly lit for the holiday season. 816-271-5500

Candlelight Homes Tour. Dec. 1-3, throughout Weston. Tour historic homes in this antebellum city as the downtown street lamps are aglow with greenery and lights. The streets leading to the tour homes will be lined with luminaries. Father Christmas will be there, of course. 816-640-2909.

Christmas with Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. Dec. 8, Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Enjoy classic and new Christmas songs preformed by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. 816-949-7100.

2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship in Kansas City, Missouri Dec. 14-16

2017 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship. Dec. 14-16, Sprint Center, 1407 Grand Blvd., Kansas City. Join the best in collegiate women’s volleyball as they compete for the title of 2017 champion. 816-949-7100.

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

From Pioneers to Prosciutto

January 19, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Until not that very long ago, the only major rumbling in Fort Calhoun was the result of the teeth-shattering vibrations made by a never-ending parade of 18-wheelers lumbering through town along the busy commercial corridor that is Highway 75.

“Straightening picture frames is a daily chore here at the museum,” explains Julie Ashton, director of the Washington County Historical Association. “We go through the space to straighten things that forever seem to be just a little out of whack.”

The community first platted in 1855 and now with a 2010 census population of 908 is experiencing something of a youth movement as new businesses launched by an equally new generation of entrepreneurs have opened their doors up and down the main drag of 14th Street. The sleepy little bedroom community, perhaps best known for the Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, is increasingly becoming an attractive day trip offering a folksy alternative to the bustle of Omaha.

Fort Atkinson was the first U.S. Army military installation west of the Missouri River in the then unorganized lands of the Louisiana Purchase. The fort was erected in 1819 and abandoned in 1827. The present structure is a replica constructed by the state on the original site that housed a brickyard, lime kiln, stone quarry, grist mill, saw mill, and cooper shop.

The site’s position on a bluff above the Missouri River led William Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to recommend the plot of land as being ideal for a military outpost, one that was built 35 years before Nebraska became a territory. Colonel Henry Atkinson, who also became its first commander, established the fort.

Which takes us to the question of why the town itself does not carry the Atkinson name. Legend has it that it was a split decision on the naming of the hamlet, with the winning faction opting for the name of then Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who would later go on to become a U.S. Senator after acting as Vice President under John Quincy Adams.

Back in modern-day Fort Calhoun, cash registers are ringing in a series of new and not so new businesses.

Sandy and Dane Kucera operate Too Far North, a charming little wine, craft beer, and gift shop. A faded Metz Beer sign is a clue to the space’s unique heritage. The building dating to 1904 originally housed a Metz Beer saloon in an era when brewers most often also operated their own taverns.

“We like to think that Fort Calhoun is a great place for a fun outing,” Sandy says. “The drive from Omaha is beautiful and there’s now lots more to do here, especially after the last few years. It’s an eclectic, friendly little community.”

Almost right next door at Cure Cooking, owner Chad Lebo was busy preparing some of his savory Vietnamese potbelly pig prosciutto and pungent, stir-cured cheddar. Lebo’s robust selections of meats, cheeses, and extras are sold mainly at Provisions in Midtown Crossing and at farmers markets.

Lebo shares the space with Big Green Tomato, whose array of specialty granola products are sold at Hy-Vee, Tomato Tomato, and other outlets.

The old blends seamlessly with the new in Fort Calhoun. Lunch at the seemingly always-crowded (and legendary) Longhorn Bar revealed something telling about small-town life. Glancing up from a plate of yummy, crowd-favorite chicken wings, this writer was suddenly struck by what one didn’t see—cellphones. No texting. No calls. None. It must surely be something of an anomaly even in the small town of Fort Calhoun, but there wasn’t a single cellphone being wielded. Which also meant no annoying ring tones competing with my attempt to tackle a heavenly pork tenderloin sandwich too big for the bun that struggled unsuccessfully to contain it.

The scene was probably much more sedate than in the earlier part of the 20th century when the bar was a roadhouse situated below a hotel that attracted by all manner of rambunctious souls.

The Longhorn is also where we found regular Ron Ferring, whose wife happens to be on the board of the Fort Atkinson Foundation. He was chatting about the easygoing vibe at the place, but he could just as easily have been talking about the quaint little community as a whole.

“These are good people here; real people,” Ferring says. “Blue collar, white collar, it doesn’t make any difference here. It’s the kind of place where if I happen to forget my wallet, it’s all good. They know it’ll be made right on my next visit.”