Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Sydney Yalshevec

Welcome Center celebrates nine months with Brands and BBQ celebration


Sydney Yalshevec

Congressman Smith presents Jo Caskey with a flag as a gift for the welcome center.

Not even the rain could stop the celebration of National Tourism Week on Saturday, May 10, at the Welcome Center. Kimball County Tourism and the Kimball County Visitors Committee celebrated by hosting a branding barbecue.

The Brands and BBQ celebration was held at the High Point Welcome Center from 4 pm to 6 pm. Jo Caskey, Tourism Director, invited everyone to attend and to enjoy.

"We are excited to celebrate the growth of tourism in Kimball County, Western Nebraska, and the Welcome Center's nine month anniversary. We have some brands on our walls, so we decided to invite any who wished to add a brand. It didn't have to be an active brand. It can be a retired family brand. Anyone in the area is invited even those outside the county may participate," Caskey said.

The barbecue dinner consisted of pulled beef atop buns, baked beans, chips, several desert items and beverages. The dinner cost five dollars and all in attendance partook. For ten dollars one could put their brand on a plaque of wood. These branded plaques will be hung on the walls of the welcome center, complete with a name plaque stating when the brand was established. If a person's brand was already on the walls of the welcome center for five dollars they could have a name plaque added.

While the wind and cold sent many in attendance to eat their food inside the welcome center, the branding pot was still going strong. The rain then started and forced the serving tables to move inside. The branding also had to move to the back room of the welcome center where the close proximity to electricity was taken advantage of and electric brands made their mark.

Many were in attendance at the celebration, county commissioners, city officials, various board members were all present to represent and support their community tourism. Congressman Adrian Smith was also in attendance with his Community Liaison, Rick Willis.

"He was in D.C. yesterday, but he came back in order to make this his last campaign stop for the primary," Willis said.

Smith made rounds shaking hands and speaking to various people about topics ranging from politics to Nebraska tourism "must-sees."

As the celebration winded down and the branding was completed, Smith presented Caskey with a gift: a flag that had been flown over the Capitol.

"Whether you fly it on your pole, or display it inside, I wanted to present you with this flag," Smith said.

After Caskey was presented with the gift from Smith, Shaun Evertson performed a flag retirement ceremony. Although the burning of the flag did not take place due to adverse weather, stars cut from the blue field of a retired flag were handed out to those in attendance as a way to remember the occasion.

With the Brands and BBQ celebration over, Caskey continues to move forward with the Visitors Committee and Kimball County Tourism. The welcome center is beginning wildflower tours where people can find and learn to identify different types of flowers in the area. Another notable activity is the Panhandle Coop is partnering with Kimball County Tourism for a photography contest.

The Visions of Our Communities Photography Contest is being held May 5-June 20, 2014. The idea behind the contest started when Susan Wiedeman, Marketing Director for the Panhandle Coop, saw other stores decorated with photos from the local community. She found that to be a good idea and wanted to get the community involved. Selected images will be used as murals for the walls of Main Street Market stores in Scottsbluff, Kimball, and Torrington. The images will also be used on websites for the Panhandle Coop.

"We wanted pictures of the area that really say what the community is about and who better to ask than the community that lives here. We also decided to partner with the local Tourism Directors so that we can provide them with pictures of the area as well," Wiedeman said.

The contest is looking for photos that capture the beauty of an area. The photos can be of landscapes, events, or people in the community.

There are three categories in which one can enter photos. First there is the Professional Category for those with 10 or more years of artistic focus in photography. The second category is the adult category for those over the age of 18 that don't have professional training. The third category is for anyone under 18. There can be up to three entries per person, each entry must include the title of the photo, type of photo, and the year it was taken. It is okay to use photos that were taken in the past, as long as the person entering the photo took the photo.

A very important piece of information for participants to know is that any photos sent in must be in high resolution, which is 300 dpi (dots per inch). The higher resolution allows the photo to be enlarged with out distorting the quality of the image. Most cameras will have a resolution setting on them that allow the user to take high resolution photos. Using the higher resolution will help prevent having to change the dpi in a program such as Photoshop at a later date before the picture is submitted. Participants should keep in mind that entries cannot exceed 12MB and should check file sizes before sending their entries to photo@panhandlecoop.com.

The deadline for submissions is June 20, 2014 at 5 p.m. The applicants that take the photos that are selected for murals in stores will receive a one hundred dollar gift card from the Panhandle Coop. Caskey will be receiving photos from the contest to use in promoting tourism in Kimball.

"We need updated photos. So this is a great way to get some really neat photos from local people who might take what Kimball has to offer for granted any other day," Caskey said.


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