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Nebraska’s first state park celebrating anniversary

Sunrise at Chadron State Park
The sun rises over Chadron State Park. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

CHADRON, Neb. – Chadron State Park, which became Nebraska’s first state park in 1921, will commemorate its 97th anniversary with its annual celebration Saturday, June 9.

New to the event this year are trail running races of 1-mile, 5k and 10k and a 110-mile bicycle race, both part of the Pine Ridge Trails Race Series.

The Panhandle Pedal Grinder bicycle race, which leads participants through forest and county roads of the scenic Pine Ridge landscape, will begin at the junction of the Black Hills Overlook in the southwest area of the park at 6 a.m. The Run for the Hills foot races will follow from the same location at 8 a.m. Registration and course information for both events may be found at pineridgetrailsraceseries.com.

Also new this year is a classic car show at the park’s baseball field. Other activities include live music, free paddleboat rides, archery and pellet gun shooting, nature and blacksmithing displays, and a lunch of buffalo sloppy joe or hot dog lunch that costs just 97 cents – one penny more than it did last year.

The anniversary celebration is open to the public free of charge but a Nebraska Park Entry Permit is required for vehicles.

The schedule:

Panhandle Pedal Grinder bicycle race, 6 a.m., Black Hills Overlook junction; Run for the Hills 1-mile, 5k and 10k foot races, 8 a.m., Black Hills Overlook junction; Free paddleboat rides, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., pond; Turtle and amphibian display, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., pond; Classic car show, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., baseball field; Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Wildlife Research Display, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Trading Post; NGPC Illegally Harvested Wildlife Display, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Trading Post; Naturalist activities, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Trading Post; Pellet gun shooting, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., lower picnic-playground area; Archery card shoot for prizes, 1-3 p.m. Trading Post; 97-cent buffalo sloppy joe and hot dog lunches, noon-2 p.m. Group Event Facility; Live music by Cheap Date, noon-2 p.m., Group Event Facility; Blacksmithing demonstration, noon-2 p.m., Trading Post; Free watermelon, 2-4 p.m., swimming pool; Dive for money for children 14 and under, 5 p.m., swimming pool

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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