Rendezvous should win exemption

Thursday, October 14, 2004

It's too bad when the rules of big government clash with the wishes of a small town. It's too bad ... but it happens far too often.

One of the latest example is a rule which could spell the end of the Grand Duke Alexis Buffalo Hunt Rendezvous in Hayes County. For a glimpse of this special event, check out page 13 today.

As reported by Jason Frederick in the Hayes Center Times-Republican, the problem is that the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission will not permit the Hayes Center Lions Club to charge "an admission fee, camping fees or vendor set-up fees" for the Rendezvous, which has been held annually in recent years at the Hayes Center Wildlife Management Area.

Mark Brohman, a spokesman for the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, told Frederick that the biggest issue is the charging of fees and the participation of vendors. "I don't think it would be a problem if they didn't charge," he said.

We'll go you one better, Mr. Brohman. We don't think it's a problem when they do charge. The vendors are what make the event so special. They come from all parts of the United States. They add color and character to an event which is not only important historically, but also important from a tourism standpoint, calling national attention to Western Nebraska.

As explained by Brohman, one of the problems for the Game & Parks Commission is that the state has received grant funds from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which would have to approve the charging of fees.

So? We still say go for it. Why should we be intimidated by a federal agency? The people of Hayes County have put together an outstanding event which is exactly the kind of thing Nebraska needs to do to promote tourism.

To sideline the event because of nit-picking government rules would be stupid. Sure, the event could be moved to another site. But why? The state land works well for the purpose and its use should not only be allowed; it should be encouraged.

What is needed is a special exemption, authorized by the state and forwarded to the federal agency with a fervent plea for approval.

As a region, we need to join in support of the Hayes Center Lions Club and the Grand Duke Alexis Buffalo Hunt Rendezvous. Let's appeal to the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, and, if necessary, the Nebraska Legislature to keep this important historical event just as it is.

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