Homestead National Monument of America
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Homestead Days Special Edition
News from the Homestead
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Come join Homestead National Monument as we celebrate our biggest event of the year - the 40th Annual Homestead Days! Homestead Days first started at the monument back in 1979, the year the National Park Service called "The Year of the Visitor!"  It has continued to grow each year, and we are honored to continue celebrating it. 

We salute the many volunteers and partner organizations that allow us to present our Homestead Days program. These partners include: Humanities Nebraska, the Nebraska Arts Council, Friends of Homestead, the Homestead Bookstores operated by Eastern National, and the Nebraska  Cultural Endowment.

Finally, please note that the park's summer hours have gone into effect. Homestead National Monument is open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from now until Labor Day.

We hope that all of our visitors, colleagues, and friends will enjoy this upcoming Summer season!

Mark Engler, Superintendent
Join Us for the 40th Annual Homestead Days!

Enjoy free shows and craft demonstrations!

Homestead Days 2019 is coming soon! This will be the 40 th  anniversary of the annual event and we invite you to Homestead National Monument of America on Friday, June 21, 2019 through Sunday, June 23, 2019 to participate in this weekend full of free events!

During each of the three days, traditional craft demonstrators will showcase their skills from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Craft demonstrations include spinning, weaving, quilting, blacksmithing, dutch oven cooking, and much more!

Saturday and Sunday there will be food from Back Alley BBQ & Grill available for purchase at the Homestead Education Center.

A shuttle bus will be available between the Homestead Education Center, Heritage Center, and the Freeman School.

This year's stage presentations will feature music and dance from the various cultures impacted by the Homestead Act. Each of the three days will have a different lineup of performers.

This year's stage presentations will feature music and dance from the various cultures impacted by the Homestead Act. Each of the three days will have a different lineup of performers:

Friday, June 21
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Traditional craft demonstrations
10 a.m. 'V' the Cowgirl-interactive children performance
1 p.m. 'V' the Cowgirl-interactive children performance 
2 p.m. Homestead Era Fashion Show by Yesterday's Lady

'V' the Cowgirl offeres an interactive musical program for children in which they get to try their hands at playing both classical and homemade instruments. V provides an overview of the instrument's historic origins and leads the group in lively tunes. At 2 p.m. Yesterday's Lady will put on a fashion show featuring clothing from the homesteading-era (1860s-1980s).

Saturday, June 22
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Traditional craft demonstrations and antique farming demonstration
12:00 p.m. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal, soul music
1:00 p.m. Omaha International Folk Dancers
2:00 p.m. Singenden Wanderer, German men's choir
3:00 p.m. Rebekah Roland, pioneer songs
4:00 p.m. Jack Gladstone, Native American music and poetry

Sunday, June 23
12 p.m. - 5 p.m. Traditional craft demonstrations and antique farming demonstration
1:00 p.m. Jack Gladstone, Native American music and poetry
2:00 p.m. Star City Kochavim, Congregation B'nai Jeshurun
3:00 p.m. Bill Behmer, songs of Ireland
4:00 p.m. Nebraska Czech Brass Band, traditional Czech music

Jack Gladstone is a citizen of the Blackfeet Indian Nation who illustrates Western and Native American culture through music, poetry, and spoken word. Star City Kochavim is the house band at Congregation B'nai Jeshurun South Street Temple in Lincoln. Bill Behmer, a Humanities Nebraska Speaker, will perform traditional Irish songs. The Nebraska Czech Brass Band will finish out the event with toe-tapping polkas and waltzes

Artist Spotlight: Jack Gladstone


Jack Gladstone,  "Montana's Troubadour," will be performing at Homestead National Monument of America's Homestead Days event.

An enrolled citizen of the Blackfeet Indian Nation, Jack illustrates Western and Native American culture through a mosaic of music, lyric poetry, and spoken word.

Jack is a cultural bridge builder, articulating historical, mythological, and contemporary narratives through his songs and public presentations.

His performances will be Saturday, June 22nd, at 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 23rd, at 1:00 p.m.

Artist Spotlight: Rebekah Rolland

Rebekah Rolland is a singer and songwriter from Tucson, Arizona, who has a love for the tradition of storytelling through music. She will be returning to Homestead National Monument of America to perform at Homestead Days! She previously served as an artist-in-residence in 2016, where she produced her first solo release, "Seed & Silo," an album of original bluegrass music inspired by the history of homesteaders seeking the American Dream. 

Rebekah will be performing Saturday, June 22nd, at 3:00 p.m.

Rebekah Rolland -
Rebekah Rolland - "Standing Still" [Official Video]

A History of Homestead Days

A widespread spirit of grassroots, local support in the 1930s led to the creation of not only Homestead National Monument, but also the first celebration of Homestead Days! The community of Beatrice organized the "first annual Gage County Homesteader Days" celebration on June 11th and June 12th, 1941, featuring: a "two-mile parade which included four bands, whisker clubs, American Legion drum corps, cowboys on fifty or more frisky horses, antiquated automobiles, old-time buggies, replicas of homestead days, Boy Scouts, scout girls, civic bodies, and other organizations. Streets in the business district were roped off for the ferris wheels, merry-go-round, and other forms of entertainment." Thousands of Gage county residents celebrated in the festivities. The well received event seemed poised for future success.

But with the entry of the United States into World War II later that year, and the increased focus on wartime production, the fervor which had followed the birth of Homestead National Monument died out somewhat. Clarence H. Schultz, who served as the first Superintendent from October 1940 had worked tirelessly to develop the park. That development was brought to a standstill during the war years - Schultz went on a military furlough, and his successor transferred during the war as well. The National Park Service appointed Elmer Hevelone, who had been influential in the birth of the park, as "Acting Custodian." Interest in future Homestead Days had not died out, but other priorities reigned.

Despite the thoughts of some to aid the war effort through bond-raising carnivals and events, Homestead National Monument and Homestead Days fell on the backburner. The Homesteader frenzy and nostalgia which had hit southeastern Nebraska waned - while there were dozens of nationwide print news articles about the monument from 1935 to 1942, there wasn't a single one from 1943 until September 1, 1946. In fact, though Homestead National Monument of America was officially authorized on March 19, 1936, and the 160 acre site had been acquired and the prairie restoration was well underway by 1939, most of what we consider to be the monument today was not yet at the site. A Beatrice Daily Sun article noted that "the historic site has not been developed... the only building on the site is a modern utility structure for the custodian" and "for the visitor, the only evidence of a "national monument is two roadside signs." Big plans were in the works however - a museum, a replica homestead cabin, a restoration of the St. Joe - Ft. Kearney Road, a parking area, and housing on the property. Superintendent Schultz, back from his military furlough during World War II, was ready to guide Homestead National Monument to its full potential.
With the development of the monument, and the upcoming centennial of the Homestead Act in 1962, community attention turned once more to honoring and celebrating the historic piece of legislation. The monument hosted a centennial celebration on May 20th, including a parade, a barbecue, and pageants - advertised as a "City-Wide Homestead Day" from June 13th through June 17th, boasting of 1862 prices with 1962 merchandise. The festivities continued well into the 1960s, with annual parades, and even a rodeo with more than 100 cowboys and cowgirls competing.

This article from 1979 recognized the first Homestead Days celebration at Homestead National Monument of America!
In its current form, Homestead Days has been an ongoing annual event continually since 1979, when a young park ranger at Homestead proposed the first annual celebration of Homestead Days at Homestead National Monument - the first time it had been held at the monument itself. This 1979 edition of Homestead Days also featured a "Living History Series of Pioneer Crafts Demonstrations" such as spinning wool,dipping candles, and the performance of the Wilber Czech Dancers, throughout the weekend. Beatrice Mayor Larry McKee officially proclaimed July 26th through 30th 1979 as "Homestead Days." Thus, Homestead Days were reborn - subsequent annual events throughout the 1980s at Homestead National Monument continued featuring living history, demonstrations, and arts and crafts: netting, quilting, dying, caning chairs, and more.

In 1984, the city of Beatrice and the Beatrice Chamber of Commerce got back in on the fun. They partnered with Homestead National Monument of America and Chautauqua '84, a weeklong program of living history where actors portrayed historical figures at Homestead Days. The theme for the year was "Jefferson's Dream and the Plains Experience" - including a nightly Chautauqua performance, a parade down Court Street, a barbecue, a black powder weapons demonstration, an arts and crafts fair at Chautauqua Park, and Homestead National Monument continued to provide an all-day "Pioneer Arts and Crafts Demonstration." Since then, the rest is history.

As Seen on "The Voice" : Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal!

Are you a fan of NBC's the Voice?  

Homestead Days at Homestead National Monument of America will host on Saturday, June 22, at 12:00 p.m. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal. Josh Hoyer and Soul Colossal is a Nebraskan band that has a global following, they have ventured out on several European and national tours. The band "continually crosses musical boundaries both in style and era". Josh Hoyer's unique soulful voice was featured as a member of Blake Shelton's team on NBC's 12th  season of The Voice. 

The band is a five-piece American Soul band out of Lincoln, led by Josh Hoyer as lead vocalist and featuring: Benjamin Kushner on guitar, Blake DeForest on trumpet, Larell Ware on drums, and Mike Keeling on bass.

  Superintendent Mark Engler said "The Voice has such a strong fan following, We are so excited to present a band that uses the influences of different musical genres of cultures that homesteaded and having the lead vocalist be a face avid fans of the show will recognize.

Click here to listen to
Click here to listen to "Mixed Bag" by Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal

The band will be performing Saturday, June 22nd at 12:00 p.m.

Performer Spotlight: Die Singenden Wanderer

Willkommen! Die Singenden Wanderers, or The Singing Wanderers, are a men's choir and sub-group of the German-American society out of Omaha, which was founded all the way back in 1884! Homestead National Monument of America is pleased to welcome Die Singenden Wanderers back to the monument, where they will perform in both German and English, bringing a lively repertoire of music brought to America by German immigrants. The group, founded in 1991 by six men, has grown to over 30 who carry their spirited singing traditions to the community.

Die Singenden Wanderer will be performing at Homestead Days at the monument on Saturday, June 22nd, at 2 p.m.

"Fun and Games" During Homestead Days

Play like a pioneer kid during Homestead National Monument of America's annual Homestead  Days, June 21-June 23. Noel Ditmars from Pickrell, Nebraska, is bringing a variety of hands on  homesteader toys and chores for children to experience during the event. Kids can experience  what it was like to pump water, grind wheat into flour, and much more!

"We are always excited to have Noel Ditmars come out and share his homesteader toys and equipment with our visitors," said Superintendent Mark Engler, "It is a fun way for children to experience a little piece of homesteader life."

Performer Spotlight: The Omaha International Folk Dancers

The Omaha International Folk Dancers  will be performing traditional dances from various European countries, including Czechoslovakia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Poland.  The folk dancing group learns from performers and folklorists, and then host workshops and sessions to share, teaching beginners and then more challenging dances, as well as having dances on request. Folk dancing was a tremendously important social dance tradition closely tied to celebrations and "get-togethers" for many homesteaders across the Great Plains. Come learn how to dance like those immigrant homesteaders did. "Visitors are in for lively fun music and should come ready to dance. This is great fun for all ages." stated Superintendent Mark Engler.

The Omaha International Folk Dancers will be performing Saturday, June 22nd, at 1:00 p.m.

The Nebraska Czech Brass Band

Did you know that Nebraska has one of the largest Czech populations in the country?  The Nebraska Czech Brass Band is a twelve piece instrumental ensemble that celebrates the heritage and musical tradition of Czech immigrants to the state. The band plays a variety of folk music, polkas, and waltzes from the Czech Republic and Germany. Based in Omaha, the Nebraska Czech Brass Band is a recreation of the former Omaha Czech Brass Band led by Karel Dvorak in the 1960s. Many members of the current band had previously played with that former band.

The Nebraska Czech Brass Band will be performing Sunday, June 23rd, at 4:00 p.m.

Nebraska Czech Brass Band - So Sind Wir
Nebraska Czech Brass Band - So Sind Wir

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Homestead National Monument of America