Tag Archives: Omaha Home & Garden Expo

It’s a Cold, Crafty, Comfort-Seeking Weekend

February 6, 2019 by

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Cold Comfort Weekend

Friday, Feb. 8 to Sunday, Feb. 10: Are you the type to embrace the cold? Then the Nebraska Snow Sculpting Competition is for you. This is the first competition of its kind in Nebraska, hosted by Main Street Studios and Gallery and Team Nebraska Snow Sculpting. Local artists will carve large blocks of snow into beautiful works of art. Check out a professional snow sculpture exhibition by Minnesota Big Snow and Team Nebraska Snow Sculpting. Watch the magic as it unfolds when teams compete in sanctioned events for a chance at going to the 2020 National Competition. The event also features “Nebraska’s only ice bar” as well as multiple other vendors and a food truck. Learn more here.

Thursday, Feb. 7:  The Grand Opening of The Jewell is music to the ears of Omaha jazz lovers. The opening, featuring the David Sanborn Jazz Quintet, kicked off last night but continues this evening with two shows, one at 6:30 p.m. and a later performance at 8:30 p.m. Sanborn is a well-known, Grammy Award-winning who has played with the likes of Eric Clapton and David Bowie. This new gem of a jazz club is located in the Marriott Hotel in the Capitol District and will feature local and international acts. Tune in here for more information about the event, and here to learn about The Jewell.

Thursday, Feb. 7 to Sunday, Feb. 10: Is the cold weather getting you down? The 53rd Annual Omaha Home & Garden Expo may be just the pick-me-up you need. Highlights include an interior design showcase, a floral centerpiece showcase, and continuous live entertainment in the Fountain Cafe & Food Court. Throw in the chance to meet Kevin O’Connor from This Old House and/or P. Allen Smith from P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, and there’s no way the weather can keep you down. Did we mention the prizes? Head to the CHI Health Center for a taste of spring this weekend. Learn more about this and upcoming shows at CHI here.

Saturday, Feb. 9: Looking for a unique experience this weekend? Go to Love to Love 2019 at The Venue at Highlander. This first annual community maker’s event will have vendors from around Omaha, including local favorites such as Big Mama’s Kitchen and Coneflower Creamery. There will be creative stations, a photo booth, on-the-spot poetry, and more. You will also find artwork from Julia Mason, recently featured in Omaha Magazine here. This community love-fest offers respite from the cold, both literal and figurative. The suggested donation is $10, but whether you can afford $1 or $100, you can still come out and enjoy the warmth and love only community can provide. So get in out of the cold and make something—whether it’s a gift or a friend. Find the love here.

Saturday, Feb. 9: Want to give in to nostalgia this weekend? There’s no better place than Skate Daze. Head to Adult Prom Night this Saturday and get your fill. It may be your last chance, as they close permanently on Sunday, March 31. So whether you skipped the prom altogether or you just really want to relive those romantic (and/or awkward) dance moments, now is the time. Drink the spiked punch and skate to the mushy music. (Bonus points if you can do it in your old prom outfit!) Find out more here.

The Mancusos

April 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

On a Monday afternoon in early March, Mike Mancuso steps out of the home office at CenturyLink Center Omaha and walks into the Great Hall of the arena. An exhibitor getting ready for the upcoming Triumph of Agriculture Expo sees Mike, one of the show’s managers, and immediately comes over to ask for help. Apparently, the space he has been given for his farm equipment display isn’t big enough. Could Mike come over and take a look? Mike puts an armful of papers and a can of pop on the floor, then disappears for a few minutes. When he returns, he picks up his papers and pop and continues to his original destination. Problem solved.

This is the life Mike and his two older brothers, Bob, Jr., and Joe, have willingly chosen. It is the life their father, Bob Mancuso, Sr., carved out for himself and the family he cherishes back in 1964, when his three sons were babies. The Mancuso family is the force behind Mid-America Expositions, Inc., producer of trade shows, expos, fairs, and festivals in the metro. For nearly 50 years, Mid-America has kept products rolling and people strolling through Omaha’s numerous indoor and outdoor venues with events like the Farm and Ag Expo, Omaha Home & Garden Expo, Taste of Omaha, and the Omaha Products Show for Business and Industry—events that have become long-standing traditions, drawing families from all over the Midwest.

Despite a diverse slate of productions, Mid-America adheres to a simple driving philosophy: “We bring business and people together,” states Bob, Jr. “The Ag Expo helps farm businesses, the Taste of Omaha helps restaurants…Our aim is to make businesses successful.”

From left: Bob, Jr., Bob, Sr., Mike, Dona, and Joe Mancuso.

From left: Bob, Jr., Bob, Sr., Mike, Dona, and Joe Mancuso.

It’s no coincidence that the ascent of Omaha on the national stage parallels the transformation of Bob, Sr., from an athlete and teacher to a business-savvy entrepreneur whose deep devotion, keen vision, and strong faith in the city he loves changed the way marketing is done around here.

“Our family is rooted in Omaha,” says Bob, Sr., proudly. “My father and mother were both born and raised here. The Mancusos seldom got out of Omaha to go to school.” Except for him.

A standout wrestler at Omaha Central, Bob, Sr., scored a full ride to Kansas State and majored in phys. ed. and biological science. His teaching and coaching career began in 1956 at the old Bellevue High School. Coach Mancuso’s impact was immediate and startling. He molded a group of teenagers from a small, Class B school into state wrestling champions his very first year—Bellevue’s first championship ever, in any sport. The wins kept piling up.

Bellevue also produced the love of his life. A pretty young waitress who worked in her parents’ café across the street from the high school caught Bob, Sr.’s eye early on. In 1958, Dona Marie Hansen and Robert Mancuso were united in marriage.

Meanwhile, the coach’s impressive record at Bellevue caught the attention of a lot of eyes in Lincoln. In 1961, Bob, Sr., became head wrestling coach at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where his squads did well but were dwarfed by the large shadow cast by the football program.

“I was making $4,000 a year. My family didn’t need much to live on. But I kept thinking about my future and wondering, ‘Am I going to sit on a stool the rest of my life?’”

The answer came from Bob, Sr.’s older brother, the late Charles Mancuso, who at the time ran Omaha’s Civic Auditorium, Rosenblatt Stadium, and the Orpheum Theater. “Charlie told me I should quit the coaching business. He wanted more activities at the Civic, and he wanted me to help him.”

 “We bring business and people together…Our aim is to make businesses successful.” – Bob Mancuso, Jr.

After talking it over with his wife, Bob, Sr., joined with former AkSarBen General Manager Jake Isaacson and talent agency head Don Romeo to form Mid-America Expositions. The Mancuso magic struck again. “Our first event was Queen For A Day, with host Jack Bailey,” Bob, Sr., remembers as if it were yesterday. “The show broadcast live from Omaha for a week. Women stood in line around the auditorium to get in.”

Over 50,000 women swarmed the Civic during that week in late September of 1964, not only to see one of early TV’s iconic shows with its classic “applause meter” that determined the winner, but to also visit the Food Festival and Housewives Fair that accompanied it. Omaha had never seen a production on this scale before. “[Changing careers] was a good move for me,” says the elder Mancuso, who will turn 80 in September. “The future was wide open for aggressive people in the events market.”

Today, Mid-America Expositions produces between 12 and 15 shows a year, many at the CenturyLink Center Omaha, and they are a family affair. Each son joined their father one by one after pursuing their own corporate careers. Mike came aboard in 1988, followed by Bob, Jr., in 2005, and Joe in 2007. The love and respect each son carries for their father is evident in everything they say and do. They get emotional when trying to put into words what his legacy means to them.

“Dad has been a great example to me,” says Joe. “I have pretty much modeled everything I’ve ever wanted to do off of him—the way he has handled his life and lived his life.”

All three sons are fine athletes like their father and have been instrumental in adding the Outland Trophy Award Dinner, the Health, Wellness, and Fitness Expo, and the Corporate Cycling Challenge to the roster of events.

Next on the agenda: the 16th Annual Taste of Omaha May 31-June 2 at the riverfront, followed by the Nebraska Balloon & Wine Festival August 9-10.

As for the future, “We want to continue making our events stronger and greater,” says Mike. “We want to keep them good for the city of Omaha and the people of Omaha.”