There are four known Nebraska State Historical Markers in Cuming County. The DeWitt Historical Site (Marker 249) is located 4 miles west and ¼ mile north as you travel Highway 275 from West Point. It is the site of the first permanent settlement of Cuming County.
A second is the John G. Neihardt Study, located at Grove and Washington Streets in Bancroft. This building was erected on the site in the 1890s and was rented from 1911 to 1920 for a study by famous Bancroft poet John Gneisenau Neihardt. Here he wrote his lyrics, prose and part of his epic A Cycle of the West. The study was restored in 1967 and entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
A third historical marker is titled Bancroft and is located ½ mile west of the junction of Nebraska Highways 51 and 16 east of Bancroft, which is the historical home of John G. Neihardt.
A final known historical marker in the county is the John G. Neihardt Center located at Elm and Washington Streets in Bancroft. In 1974, state Sen. Blair Richendifer of Walthill introduced legislation which appropriated the sum of $200,000 for the purpose of constructing the John G. Neihardt Foundation. The center was dedicated Aug. 1, 1976. By gubernatorial proclamation, the first Sunday in each August is designated Neihardt Day in Nebraska.
Bancroft is the home of the John G. Neihardt State Historical Site. The site is a museum, research library and education center in honor of the life and work of John G. Neihardt, poet laureate of Nebraska.
The Neihardt Center attracts over 2,500 national and international visitors every year. The Neihardt site is open year-round. March through November hours are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1:30 to 5 p.m. December through February hours are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The center is closed on holidays.
The Beemer Community Theater has been active since 1986, performing annual musicals.
The annual late winter production is held the final weekend of February. The group performs to sold out crowds with three performances- Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon.
In 2009 the group reached a milestone, performing its 25th production. That is so because the year 1988 saw both a late winter and a summer production.
The Beemer theater group also presents a Christmas production in conjunction with the community’s annual Yuletide Social.
Starting with the cast and crew, along with the West Point Special Olympics and West Point Boy Scouts (catering) and the Beemer Fire Department (refreshments), the annual production in February takes an estimated 60 volunteers to carry out. Crowds are around 210 for both Friday and Saturday, and generally around 150 for Sunday at the Beemer Ballroom.
The Cuming County Historical Museum Complex is made up of several buildings filled with historical displays. Maintained by the Cuming County Historical Society and the Cuming County Agricultural Society, it is located at the county’s fairgrounds in West Point.
In August 1975, the Chicago Northwestern Railroad depot was moved to the fairgrounds. Joining the depot in June 1990 was the Union Pacific Railroad caboose. In 1992, a model railroad was placed in the caboose.
A one-room schoolhouse built in 1912 and housing District #34, formerly located in rural Wisner, was added in 1991. It displays hundreds of antique rural school items, desks, stove, blackboards and inkwells and a merry-go-round in the front.
In January 1996, St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, which had been located south of Wisner, was moved to the park. It serves as a place of worship on Sundays during the fair, and has been the site of a few weddings since its move to the fairgrounds.
The Dinklage and Cuming County Heritage Museum was built and dedicated in 1997. The 60x120 building houses machinery, cars and a variety of antique tools.
The historical buildings are open by appointment and during the Cuming County Fair. More information can be found at: www.cumingcountyfair.com/HISTORICAL.html www.facebook.com/l/4083c; www.cumingcountyhistory.org
Ground-breaking for the new $5.4 million Donald E. Nielsen Community Center took place September 13, 2006. Gifts from several community donors helped fund the project. The facility was completed in 2008. The approximately 44,000-square-foot center features a large hall for banquets, wedding receptions, social gatherings, meetings and small conventions. A West Point Auditorium Foundation was formed to raise money for this privately funded project.
click to enlarge
Walnut Street west of Highway 275 was redesigned to a divided street curving to the entrance to the new center. That part of the street was renamed Anna Stalp Avenue.
The building includes the Shirley and Jake Weber Education Center, which houses distance learning and regular classes from Northeast Community College. It includes a science and computer lab, two distance learning classrooms and four flexible classrooms.
200 Anna Stalp Avenue
West Point, NE 68788
402-372-0184 or 402-380-2820
West Point’s Community Theatre was organized in 1968 and presented its first stage production, Harvey, in October of that year.
In the past 10 years, the organization has experienced a revitalization, holding regular performances on its stage at the West Point City Auditorium. In 2008, the theatre leased the auditorium from the city of West Point after another facility was built to serve community functions.
Volunteers worked to renovate the former auditorium into a space for performing arts and a 250-seat movie theater. In May 2009, Monsters vs. Aliens was shown as the theatre’s premiere movie.
Currently, the theatre shows movies on weekends with show times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as a Sunday matinee. Performing arts include a spring musical, summer melodrama and fall play. Traveling performances also make appearances at West Point Community Theatre.
The theatre, which was built in 1911, is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.
To get a complete schedule of the volunteer-run organization, visit www.WestPointCommunityTheatre.com.
237 North Main Street
West Point, NE 68788
Residents of Wisner, proud of their heritage, started the Wisner Heritage Museum in 1996. The museum doors were first opened to the public during the community’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, as part of the Quasquicentenniel (Q125) year-long celebration.
After procuring a location along Highway 275, a small group of citizens began constructing the town they remembered from years past. The museum board and many volunteers are working toward preserving the community’s history plus provide education.
A reconstruction of Phil’s Tire Shop, a successful Wisner business that closed after 60 years, is on display at the Wisner Heritage Museum. Other displays include a church, drug store, sewing room, yarn making, weaving, school heritage, sports of all types, autograph books, photography, soap making, cooking, hat collection and tins of the past.
920 Avenue “E”
Wisner, NE 68791
The Village of Beemer will celebrate its 125th anniversary July 22, 23 and 24, 2011. Activities will include live bands, pancake feed, fun run, kids’ games, demonstrations, melodrama, community church service, vintage style show, town tours and an inflatable midway.
The Beemer Play Daze are held annually the fourth weekend in July. They will run from Friday evening until Sunday evening.
Among the activities are: music in the park, inflatables, go-carts, parade, barbecue, kids’ games, horseshoe tourney, poker tourney, bingo, and plenty more.
The event is sponsored by the Beemer Community Club, with help from several other organizations such as the Volunteer Fire and Rescue, the Firefighters Auxiliary, and the American Legion and its Auxiliary.
Most of the activities take place along Main St. in Beemer or in the Beemer Park.
West Point’s Fourth of July celebration is a fun family event that is capped with one of the top fireworks shows in the area.
The day traditionally includes games for kids, horseshoe pitching contests, bingo, baseball games, a ranch rodeo or cattle penning event, and sometimes a musical act or two.
It’s also the day the West Point Chamber of Commerce serves its annual BBQ, offering beef and pork sandwiches for a reasonable price.
Shortly before dusk, the park fills with people anxious to watch the night sky light up. West Point’s Volunteer Fire Department, with the assistance of other volunteers, handles the annual fireworks show.
One of the top county fairs in Nebraska takes place in August of each year in West Point: The Cuming County Fair. It’s traditionally held Thursday-Sunday, the second week of August.
It’s a 4-day shebang full of 4-H events, open class shows and a variety of entertainment. The best part is that admission prices to the fairgrounds are “family friendly,” and once inside all the shows and activities are free.
The fair offers grandstand shows on at least two nights, two or three tractor pulls, a baseball tournament, demolition derby, horse shows, livestock shows, commercial exhibits, a midway full of rides and concessions, and local stands offering a variety of food that will leave you wanting more.
Each July for the past 10 years hundreds of people have gathered on the West Point-Beemer High School football field and track for the Cuming County Relay for Life.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is an event that gives everyone in communities a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.
The relay involves a Survivor’s Lap, Luminaria Ceremony and a Fight Back ceremony.
It’s become an event that residents from across the county have come to embrace and support. Participants often join teams, which adopt a team name or theme, and then hold various fundraisers to raise money for cancer research.
More than a half-million dollars has been raised during the 10 years the Relay has been held in West Point.
Billed as the largest one-day car show in the Mid-America, West Point’s “Last Fling ‘til Spring” show will begin its third decade with its 21st show in 2010.
The car enthusiast’s dream come true annually attracts between 600 and 700 custom, classic, and antique cars, trucks and motorcycles.
The vehicles and the thousands of people they attract fill West Point’s downtown business district for one afternoon each fall, the third Sunday of September.
The event provides shopping for your whims and promises a day of fun for the entire family. There is live entertainment, a model car contest, craft show, swap meet in the park, vendors selling T-shirts, food and drink, car-related merchandise, and more.
Wisner has gone extreme in truck and tractor pulling, having hosted an annual pull since 2004. That pull has been voted “Pull of the Year” each year by the Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pulling Association.
The event is titled “Thunder by the River,” which is fitting since the event is held at Wisner River Park and brings a thunderous array of pulling action.
A local group of volunteers head up the Thunder by the River Executive Committee which does all the legwork to organize such a tremendous event for the City of Wisner.
The event is traditionally held the third weekend in August and has been labeled as the “Bowling Green of the West” by many associated with the pulling association.
With a proud Irish heritage, the City of Wisner hosts an annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration that is in direct rivalry with neighboring O’Neill for top Irish celebration in the state. The event is held in the proximity of March 17, generally the weekend following the holiday.
Events held include: a parade, fun run-walk, Irish meal and dance, king and queen coronation, and many other events for both young and old.
Held in either late June or early July, the annual Wisner Jr. Livestock Show and Wisner Lions Club Rodeo are hits in this part of Nebraska.
The livestock show features plenty of 4-H competitions for kids, a hot dog eating contest, a barbecue, a road rally, a poker run, junk wars, and plenty of other activities, as well as top musical entertainment.
The rodeo involves two shows that take place the Friday and Saturday of the Jr. Livestock Show. Top local and area cowboys take part in McKay Rodeo competition. The event features a Saturday drawing in which one lucky ticket-holder drives off in a new vehicle. Also featured are the famous Lions Club burgers which are grilled and served both nights.