It's all about the story.
Whether told by a professional or an amateur, set to music or viewed from the window of a bus, storytelling has been a way of life since mankind first sat around a campfire.
The tradition arrived on the western plains long before the European settlers, and gets a boost from this weekend's 16th annual Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival.
The event starts with a link to the area's earlier inhabitants, Friday's Wild West Bus Tour, exploring the desperate 1878 escape of Dull Knife and Little Wolfe as they and their warriors evaded federal troops from four frontier forts on their way to Fort Robinson in the Nebraska Panhandle. That tour leaves McMillen Hall on the McCook Community College campus at 10 a.m.
Cowboy Philosophy 101, from 3 to 5 p.m., gives nationally recognized cowboy poet Waddie Mitchell a chance to explain the "Cowboy Way," the American cowboy's code of honor. A combo package of the bus tour and class, requiring pre-registration, is available by calling (308) 345-8122 or visiting CenterForEnterprise.com.
Headliners Sons and Brothers from Colorado will give visitors a taste of their bluegrass, gospel and western music, seasoned with a pinch of rock and a dab of blues in a free show from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Bieroc Cafe in downtown McCook. The cafe will be open for lunch and drink purchases to enjoy inside and out. Ghost stories will round out the day, with Sons and Brothers, Waddie Mitchell, Cactus Chris, Don Welch and special guest local participants, at 10 p.m.
Super Storytelling for the Younger Set is set for 1:30 p.m. Friday at the McCook Public Library, and a Chuck Wagon Jamboree with the headliners is set for 6:30 p.m. at the Keystone Business Center. $30 includes meal and concert, purchased in advance from the McCook Chamber of Commerce, Sehnert's Bakery, Hershberger Music, McCook National Bank or online at buffalocommons.org.
A busy Saturday opens with a "Southwest Nebraska Remembers" open mic at 9 a.m. at the High Plains Museum, followed by the Cowboy Way with Waddie Mitchell at 10 a.m., followed by "Westgrass" with the Sons and Brothers at 11 a.m..
Inspirational stories with Nebraska's own beloved poet and teacher Don Welch will be delivered at 10:30 a.m. at Memorial United Methodist Church.
The action moves back to the Bieroc Cafe with "Our Place on the Plains" from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and musicians and scholars Mike Adams and Kate Benzel will recall the Great Depression with "Woody Guthrie: Re-en visioning 1930s America" from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Bieroc.
A kids fest is 1:30 p.m. in Norris Park, "Take and Turn Back in History" is from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the George W. Norris Historic Site, and "How the West Was Fun!" concludes the festival at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Historic Fox Theatre.
Attend a few, attend them all -- there are plenty of opportunities to make a connection with our past, and make more memories for the future, at this year's Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival. More information at www.buffalocommons.org