Buffalo Commons ready to roll

Thursday, June 2, 2016

McCOOK, Neb. -- One show is a sell-out, seats are filling fast on the "History's Mysteries" bus tour and organizers are making final preparations to celebrate "Twenty Years of Storytelling" when McCook hosts the 20th annual Buffalo Commons Storytelling and Music Festival June 10-11.

Friday's Dinner Cabaret show at the Bieroc Café is sold out and a limited number of seats remain on the "Sacred Places" bus tour Friday from 8:30-4:30 p.m. However there are still tickets available for the Saturday night "How the West Has Fun" Grand Finale -- Celebrating 20 Years of Storytelling." It is set for 7:30 p.m. in the historic Fox Theater and will be dedicated to entertainer/song writer Mike Adams, who wrote the celebration's official theme song 20 years ago. The show also includes all three headliners for this year's festival: Storyteller Andy Offutt-Irwin, music from The Steel Wheels and poetry from Nebraska State Poet Twyla Hansen.

The weekend celebration continues Saturday with a number of free events including: "Chautauqua on the Bricks," "KidsFest Peanut Butter Theater," poetry slam, workshops, open mics, local stories and time to share memories and stories with one another.

This year's "History's Mysteries" bus tour will explore sacred places Friday June 10, including the Old Stone Church, and cemeteries in Herndon and McCook. This day-long adventure -- sponsored by Mid-Plains Center for Enterprise, McCook Community College -- includes a sack lunch and lessons from experts. Attendees will explore grave stones and markers for symbolism to reveal stories of our ancestors and the past. Participants learn about dousing and have the chance to preserve history through etching. Cost of the bus tour is $35. Contact (308) 345-8122 for tickets. Tickets must be purchased in advance. This year's guest speaker is historian/lecturer Lori Halfhide.

Friday's schedule also includes storyteller Andy Offutt-Irwin's "Stories for the Young and Young at Heart" from 1:30-3 p.m. at the McCook City Library.

Saturday's festivities kick off at 8:45 a.m. at the High Plains Museum for a "meet and greet" with former governor and U.S. Senator Ben Nelson. He and former McCook Gazette Publisher Gene Morris will host "Political Stories" in the museum from 9-10 a.m. Master Storyteller Andy Offut-Irwin takes over at 10 a.m. and the Steel Wheels perform at 10:45 a.m.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. at the historic Carnegie Library Twyla Hansen will conduct a writing workshop on "Kick Start Your Own Poetry."

Many of the events are offered free thanks to support from Humanities Nebraska, Nebraska Arts Council, McCook Arts Council, Red Willow County Tourism, Mid-Plains Center for Enterprise, McCook Community College, McCook City Library, local businesses and individuals.

At 12:30 p.m. the Bieroc Café will host as "Open Microphone" session led by Walt Sehnert and at 1:30 p.m. the "Poetry Slam/Poetry Out Loud" takes place.

From 12:30-2 p.m., the McCook City Library will host "KidsFest Peanut Butter Theater" with Andy Offutt Irwin.

"Chautauqua on the Bricks" starts at 3 p.m. at the George W. Norris Home as festival attendees will get the chance to meet "Senator and Ellie Norris" portrayed by Clark and Dawna Bates.

The festival concludes Saturday night with the grand finale at 7:30 p.m. at the Fox Theater. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and are available from McCook Chamber of Commerce (308-345-3200), Sehnert's Bakery & Bieroc Cafe (308-345-4500), McCook National Bank, Hershberger Music, or at the door.

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