LINCOLN, Neb. — Join the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in celebrating the parks system centennial year with a two-day birthday bash June 11-12 at Chadron State Park.
Game and Parks Director Jim Douglas, joined by Nebraska Lt. Gov. Mike Foley, U.S. Rep. Adrian Smith, and Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation Chairman Jim Abel will welcome guests to the celebration during an 11 a.m. ceremony Saturday at the sports field.
“State lawmakers in 1921 recognized the value of creating our first state park at Chadron,” Douglas said. “We have a lot to celebrate about the benefits that we receive from Nebraska state parks. Our state parks are special places where people can get in touch with nature, enjoy healthy activities, and gather with their families and friends to make lasting memories. Our state parks add to our overall quality of life and strengthen our economy.”
“We look forward to celebrating Nebraska’s great state park system with this signature event,” said Jim Swenson, Parks Division administrator. “Over the past 100 years, our state park system has grown to 76 parks that are top destinations for Nebraskans and visitors because of their breathtaking landscapes and the great diversity of recreational opportunities.”
Highlights will include a historical plaque dedication at 9 a.m. Saturday outside the main office overlooking the pond; the grand opening of the new Chadron State Park Shooting Complex at 10 a.m. at the main picnic area; and laser light shows by Laser Spectacles at 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the sports field. Light show attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets as seating is limited.
Recreation opportunities won’t be lacking at the signature event either.
The annual Run for the Hills foot race (a 1-mile, 5k or 10k run across the rugged Pine Ridge); Regatta Race; bounce house; and treasure dive promise to keep people of all ages busy.
Other activities will include stagecoach rides, free paddleboat rides, free archery and pellet gun shooting, nature and blacksmithing displays, and a lunch that includes bison sloppy joes, chips, beans and a drink for 100 cents — one penny for each year since the park was established.
Among the displays and vendors will be Game and Parks’ trailers showcasing wildlife, Nebraska park history, and taxidermy mounts confiscated because of game violations.
The anniversary celebration is free to the public, but a Nebraska Park Entry Permit is required for vehicles. Get one or learn more at YourNebraskaParks100.org.
The Chadron State Park Centennial Birthday Bash is one of three signature events in honor of the park system centennial. While this celebrates the first state park in Nebraska, events slated for July 10 at Victoria Springs State Recreation Area and Oct. 2 at Arbor Lodge State Historical Park celebrate the state’s first recreation area and first state historical park.
Following is the two-day schedule:
Friday, June 11
5 p.m.: Food vendors open at the sports field.
6 p.m.: Beer garden opens at the sports field.
7 p.m.: Live music by The Bar Flies at the sports field.
10 p.m.: Laser light show at the sports field.
Saturday, June 12
8 a.m.: Run for the Hills, 1-Mile, 5k, 10k beginning at Overlook Road. Register at pineridgetrailsraceseries.com.
9 a.m.: Paddleboat and kayak rides at the lagoon; Dutch-oven demonstration and natural activities at the main picnic area; fisheries shock boat, trailer and touch tank at the lagoon; historical plaque dedication at the main office.
10 a.m.: Naturalist and raptor recovery displays at the lagoon parking lot; car, truck and motorcycle show behind the main office; stagecoach rides at the stables; bounce house at the picnic area; wildlife display at the picnic area; history and poaching trailer displays at the Trading Post; and Chadron State Park Shooting Complex Ribbon Cutting, which will be followed by free pellet gun and archery shooting until 4 p.m.
10:30 a.m.: Moment in Time group photo at the sports field, open to all. Those who participate in the group photo and stay for the 11 a.m. celebration will receive a 100th Anniversary commemorative souvenir and shooting range token.
11 a.m.: Welcome to the 100th Anniversary Celebration at the sports field; food vendors open.
Noon: Blacksmith demonstration at the picnic area; raptor recovery display at the lagoon parking lot; bison sloppy joes at the Trading Post.
1 p.m.: Dutch-oven demonstration and natural activities at the main picnic area.
1:30 p.m.: Car, truck and motorcycle show award ceremony behind the main office.
2 p.m.: Raptor recovery display at the lagoon parking lot; regatta registration at the lagoon.
2:30 p.m.: Regatta Race at the lagoon.
3:00 p.m.: Dutch-oven demonstration and natural activities at the main picnic area.
5 p.m.: Treasure Dive at the pool; food vendors and beer garden open at the sports field.
7 p.m.: Live music by Twin River Band at the sports field.
10 p.m.: Laser light show at the sports field.