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Dark skies, bright stars and music top August parks events

From the annual Nebraska Star Party to sandcastle building and pioneer musicals, August promises a variety of events at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission locations.

A park entry permit is required of each vehicle entering a park area. Learn more at OutdoorNebraska.org.

Celebrate dark skies at annual star party Aug. 1-6 at Merritt Reservoir

LINCOLN, Neb. – Take advantage of Merritt Reservoir’s dark skies and take in the wonders of the night sky during the 28th annual Nebraska Star Party on Aug. 1-6 at the Cherry County state recreation area.

The center of activity will be a large tent on the observing field near the entrance to the Snake Campground. Activities there will include nighttime constellation talks, door prize giveaways and meal service. The exception will be Wednesday, when activities will be moved to the Valentine High School, 431 N. Green St.

Other activities will include a canoe/float trip down the Niobrara River, children’s programs, an astro photo content, swap meet and more. The public star party will be at 9 p.m. Aug. 6, at the observing field.

Find the complete schedule of events or register to attend at NebraskaStarParty.org.

100 years of Nebraska State Parks at Ponca State Park

LINCOLN, Neb. — Celebrate 100 years of Nebraska State Parks on Aug. 6-7 at Ponca State Park in Dixon County.

The two-day event will include a wine and cheese social, with music by the Bligh Brothers; oral storytelling under a harvest moon; hayrack rides; sunset kayaking; reenactors and more. Former Nebraska Game and Parks Commission employees also will be honored at the event.

The event also will show two documentaries celebrating parks across the country, including “River of Change” on the national park system and “Adventures in History: Discovering Nebraska’s State Historical Parks,” a collaboration with Nebraska Public Media released in May 2021.

Visitors also will be able to observe bird banding, participate in shooting sports, learn about Dutch-oven cooking, hear presentations on the role of the Civilian Conservation Corps in developing the state park, attend a ceremonial bur oak tree planting, and snag a bison dinner for $15.

For the complete schedule of events, visit calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Cabin reservations for the event must be made directly through the Ponca State Park office at 402-755-2284.

Compete in Calamus Castles event

LINCOLN, Neb. — Show off your sandcastle building skills during the Calamus Castles event Aug. 7 at Homestead Knolls Beach Area at Calamus State Recreation Area.

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Homestead Knolls day-use area. Sculpting is noon to 4 p.m., with judging beginning immediately at 4 p.m. Winners will be announced at 5 p.m. at the day-use area.

The three class categories are: 10 and under; open class; or family (all participants must be related).

Only natural materials may be used to enhance sculptures, and forms may be used for rough shaping only. Final sculptures also must be free standing.

Learn more about the event in the listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

Catch more viewings of ‘Adventures in History: Discovering Nebraska’s State Historical Parks’

LINCOLN, Neb. — Viewers now have another chance to catch “Adventures in History: Discovering Nebraska’s State Historical Parks,” a new documentary from Nebraska Public Media and Nebraska Game and Parks. The show will air at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 on Nebraska Public Media World.

Viewers will join program host and narrator Stephanie Arne, an accomplished conservationist, as she explores nine state historical parks. They can find out more about larger-than-life showman Buffalo Bill, discover how reenactors at historic forts bring life to the past, learn what makes a Champion Tree and walk the same path pioneers took in covered wagons traveling the California-Oregon Trail.

During a revealing journey of exploration and connection, Arne learns that Nebraska’s people, landscapes and history have important stories, ones that can help people understand Nebraska as it is today. But only if they’re willing listen.

For more information about Nebraska’s state historical parks, visit outdoornebraska.org. For more about “Adventures in History: Discovering Nebraska’s State Historical Parks,” visit nebraskapublicmedia.org/adventures.

Natural History and Habitat Days set for Ponca State Park

LINCOLN, Neb. — Celebrate Nebraska’s flora, fauna and geology during Natural History and Habitat Days starting at 8 a.m. Aug. 21 at Ponca State Park.

Tours and talks will cover natural history, geology, wildflowers, pollinators, and flora and fauna. Numerous other activities also will be available on the grounds.

To learn more about the park, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/Ponca. For more information on the event, call Ponca State Park at 402-755-2284.

Ranch Life Saturdays at Rock Creek Station SHP

LINCOLN, Neb. — Travel back in time to the mid-1800s during living history Saturdays at Rock Creek Station State Historical Park in southeast Nebraska.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 21, reenactors will bring history to life with period dress, interpretations and demonstrations.

The historical park — one of the Pony Express stations — is on 350 acres of prairie, its creek bottom timber-studded. Deep ruts carved into the earth by wagons traveling the Oregon and California trails remain plainly visible.

The historical park also contains the reconstructed Pony Express barn, bunk house and several cabins, viewable from the 6 miles of hiking and nature trails.

Learn more about the park at outdoornebraska.gov/rockcreekstation. Learn more about the event in the listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov.

‘Pioneer Song’ musical production planned at Ash Hollow SHP

LINCOLN, Neb. — Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and head out to Ash Hollow State Historical Park for an afternoon of musical entertainment by The Great Bear Folk Theater at 4 p.m. Mountain time Aug. 29.

The theater company will perform “Pioneer Song,” a one-hour musical that shares the story of the Oregon Trail emigration experience through the eyes of a group of women who travelled it.

Admission to the event is $5 for those age 13 and over; $2 for those age 4-12; and free for those age 3 and under.

Learn more about the musical at GreatBearFolkTheatre.com. Learn more about the park at OutdoorNebraska.org/AshHollow.

About shawna richter-ryerson

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