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Quasquicentennial makes for a big year in Eustis
photos courtesy of Don Brockmeier
One-hundred twenty-five years is a long time and a lot can change. For example, farmers might — in fact did — go from plowing fields with a team of horses to being able to sit back and read a magazine while satellites guide their powerful air-conditioned tractors down the rows.
Because the boom time for the creation of communities in southwest and south central Nebraska was in the 1880s and 1890s, a lot of towns have already had their Quasquicentennial or 125th anniversary celebration and many more are in planning stages for celebrations of their own.
Eustis, a town of about 450 in Frontier County, is just finishing up its year-long Quasquicentennial celebration — which they called the Q 125 — and according to resident, community leader and photographer Don Brockmeier, Eustis had a very full year of events celebrating “the good old days”.
Picking by hand
It started in November of 2010 with a corn-picking. About 40 rows of corn had been left standing on the farm of Ann and Dan Pohl and, according to Brockmeier, the event started with a few rows being picked by pull-type and mounted pickers, but then Keith Rudeen of Overton swung his team of Belgian horses into action and showed the crowd how a team and wagon were used before the modern era to hand-pick the remainder.
The picked corn was unloaded from the wagon into a ring of slat cribbing by using an elevator powered by a Case tractor, but then Rudeen and his horses had another chance to show folks how things used to be done. The team was hitched to a triple-geared “horsepower” and when they were driven in a circle, they powered the tumbling rod, driving the elevator.
Community trail ride
Another big event in the Eustis celebration was a trail ride in April from the fairgrounds to the site of a silica mine that had operated in the area from 1928 until the 1950s. Once again Keith Rudeen was on hand, this time to pull a wagon for those who weren’t quite ready to mount up and ride. A second, mule-drawn wagon of celebrants and 130 on horseback made for a colorful picnic in the beautiful canyon lands near Eustis.
In July and again in August, the Belgians returned to help demonstrate how horses were used for oat binding, shocking and threshing as part of a five-day celebration.
A year of activities
Event co-chairs were Doug Keller and Kermit Smith, and along with a committee of 12 to 15, planned and helped carry out the yearlong activities with the help of a host of volunteers from the community. This timeline of events was given by Janice Smith.
- November 20, 2010. Picked 40 rows of corn on the west edge of Eustis with a pull type picker and a mounted picker, picking one row by hand into a wagon pulled by horses.
- April 9, 2011, Kick-Off Day. Started by digging up the Time Capsule which was buried in 1986 at the 100th Anniversary celebration. A trail ride with 130 riders on horseback and two wagons reached the silica mine and stopped for lunch supplied by the Eustis Lions Club. The trail ride proceeded, circling around the town until 4:00 p.m. That evening the high school hosted a dinner theatre.
- June 11, 2011. Wurst Tag. Wurst Tag or Sausage Day is an annual event of long-standing in Eustis, but the Qua celebration was extra special, with a car show, quilt show, story-telling, polka band, pretzel eating contest, street dance and community worship.
- July 1, Independence Day Celebration. Windsor Chop meal by the Fair Board, old fashioned kids’ games, and fireworks. On that Sunday, the 3rd, was when the oats were bound and shocked in preparation for the threshing
- August 3-6. Eustis Fair and Corn Show. In addition to 4-H and other regular fair activities there was “Growing From The Past”, a drama about the history of the town by high school students; a community choir; a beard contest; Q 125 belt buckle auction; and the Q 125 parade,"125 Years Strong". A threshing demonstration and polka band church Service was also a part of the celebration.
- November 18, 2011. The Grand Finale. Dueling Pianos perform in conjunction with the Eustis Area Community Foundation and the time capsule was sealed and re-buried along with the Centennial capsule to be opened at the 150th Anniversary Celebration.
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