Culture

Art and Galleries Along the Byway: Many nationally and internationally recognized artists and artisans call the Byway region home. Several have concluded that the natural surroundings stimulate their artistic expression. Below is a listing of Byway members who promote the arts. Some of these artists have studios and welcome visitors by appointment. Also check the county and community information sections for listings.

ALLIANCE

Carnegie Arts Center – art@carnegieartscenter.com

Special Stitches & Studio A – dthiems@gmail.com & athiems@gmail.com

Steph’s Studio – www.facebook.com/StephsStudioAlliance

ASHBY

CaLinda’s Pot Shop/Art Gallery – www.facebook.com/CalindasPotShopArtGallery

BINGHAM

Audrey Powles Photography & Design – audreyrk85@gmail.com

DUNNING

Sandhills Pottery – mvandie@neb-sandhills.net

GRAND ISLAND

Studio K Art Gallery – www.studiokartgallery.com

MERNA

The Secret Garden – www.thesecretgardenonline.com

MULLEN

Mullen Arts Center – www.facebook.com/mullenartscenter

THEDFORD

Thedford Art Guild –  308-645-2436 – www.facebook.com/ThedfordArtGallery

Entertainment Along the Byway: The ways that the farmers and ranchers play are often closely tied to their occupations. In large cities, people may leave their desk job to spend the weekend in a different environment like the mountains or at a beach. It’s different along this Byway, where their work is so much a part of their lives that it is often their play. Rodeos—including ranch rodeos, bull riding, team penning, cattle cutting, horse racing, and tractor pulls—are all part of the cultural entertainment of the area.

Other cultural practices that occur on a daily and seasonal basis, such as harvesting, branding, and cattle drives, are often used as social events. County fairs, ethnic festivals, and community celebrations also feature the cultural heritage of the area.
Don’t get the impression that work and play that is like work are the only outlets for residents. Dances, fine arts exhibits, musical concerts, ethnic festivals, and craft shows are just a few of the popular activities along the Byway. The residents frequent attractions like bowling alleys, movie theatres, and golf courses. Every community seems to have some type of a homecoming celebration, such as high school alumni weekend, community or holiday festival, where people make new friendships or rekindle relationships with extended families.
Examples of ethnic traditions occur in various communities along the Byway.

  • German Heritage Days Old Settlers Picnic is held annually at the Liederkranz in Grand Island featuring foods and dance traditions.
  • Dannebrog was proclaimed the “Danish Capital of Nebraska” in 1989 by the Nebraska Legislature. Travelers can taste authentic Danish pastries and foods at the local bakery and restaurant. Grundlovsfest (Danish Days) is a weekend event celebrating Danish traditions.
  • Loup City celebrates Polish Days annually, featuring a polka street dance, Polish food court, and cultural customs.
  • On the far west end of the Byway, Hemingford holds Czech Days and Fun Dayz each year keeping the Czech traditions alive by wearing traditional Czech clothing and enjoying Czech music and food.
  • These events and many others celebrate the Byway heritage and promote the lifestyle of their ancestors.

Other Attractions Along the Byway: The Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway’s culture has evolved in part because of the unique landscape. The pioneers who emigrated here found the only way for their survival was to develop a livelihood that worked in harmony with the fragile land. Residents, some in their 4th or 5th generation on the same land, are ever diligent stewards of the plains as they preserve its immense open spaces, its wildlife, and its integrity. The cultural practices that developed in the region are recognized nationally because of the valuable stewardship of the land and the stability that is provided to the fragile soils. Visitors are welcome to learn more through the many local attractions and events along the Byway that celebrate this unique history.

Ranching and Farming Along the Byway: Agriculture has played a major role in human history, as agricultural progress has been a crucial factor in worldwide socio-economic change. Although the Sandhills were used in a variety of ways by prehistoric Native Americans, early explorers spoke of the region as “the Great American Desert.” Early settlers were unprepared for the changing temperatures and the variety of hardships of this region. Due to the lack of trees in the area, they lived in dug-outs or built sod houses. Most adapted to the conditions and learned to live in harmony with the land. To learn more about the farming and ranching culture of the region, visit any of the numerous museums or cultural events along the Byway.

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