On Saturday, hundreds of people flocked to the Village of Western to celebrate the community with the Western Old Settlers Picnic.
Throughout the day, there were a number of events, such as a car show, a tractor show and sand volleyball. Damara Woitalewicz, Western Community Club President, explained that even the excessive heat did not keep people away.
“We’ve had a really good turnout this year, especially considering the heat,” said Woitalewicz. “The volleyball tournament had a really strong turnout this year. They had 14 teams this year.”
Festivities started off with a 17 entrants in the 2 mile fun run/walk. Noah Temmer of Fairmont was first across the finish line and Western’s own Riley Pieper was second. The top three teams in sand volleyball received cash prizes and any extra money from the entry fee submissions was donated to the Struckman-Baatz Library. First place went to Brianne Bachman, Blair Hoffstetter, Jess Howard, Dillon Wolfe, Mark Houser, Andy Bachman and Shane Roesler. Second place went to Kelly Rut, Jamie Siems, Maci Hicks, Brett Scheiding, Jeremy Siems, Cole Siems, Amanda Connelly and Andrew Brandt. Third place went to Andrew Rohr, Miranda Johnson, Josie Sobotka, Chris Rohr, Jill Schroeder, James M and Kyle Rohr.
Car show registration started at 9 a.m. with judging starting at 12:30. There were 116 entries. Best of Show for motorcycles was a 1981 Harley-Davidson Chopper owned by Christopher Drees of Daykin. Best of Show in the Stock Division was the 1961 Chevy Corvette owned by Leroy Russell of Beatrice; and the Best of Show in the Modified Division went to Terry Thies of Sterling and his 1966 Chevy C-10.
The Tractor Show also started at 9 a.m. and had 22 entries. Cooper Hayek won the People’s Choice Award. This award is sponsored by the family of the late Lonnie Schwisow. Lacey Schoenbeck, who helped organize the tractor show, hopes to see the number of entries grow next year.
“It’s not quite as big this year as it was last year,” said Schoenbeck. “This is our third year for the tractor show. It’s still a good year for the show. We just encourage people to bring a lot more tractors.”
Eleven teams participated in the Double Elimination Cornhole Tournament. Thayne Tatro and Jake Friesen won first place and took home $55, which was 50% of the team entry fees. The second place team received their entry fee back. Hometown Pride, Heartland Strong was the theme of the 116th Old Settlers’ Parade.
The parade had over 60 entries and was led by Grand Marshalls Gerald and Lois Kotas. Kids played throughout the day on inflatable rides and carnival games and 43 kids entered the Little Tuggers Pedal Tractor Pull with 39 kids qualifying to pull at the Nebraska State Fair. Other events included a craft show from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., pie and ice cream served at the Saline County Area Transit building, entertainment by the McClellan Singing Sisters and bingo.
The cash raffle drawing wrapped up the day: Gene Busboom of Lincoln $100; Phillip Zoubek, Western $50; Paul Juhl, Fairbury $50; Kerri Price, York $25; Joe Hergott Jr, Gilead $25; Alan Krupicka, Tobias $25; Denise C, St Louis MO $25; Adam Erelkamp, Exeter $20; BJ Mussman, Ohiowa $20; Del Wattjes, Raymond $20; Jake VanWestern, Tobias $20; Vicki Schmidt, Western $20; Haley Dutton, Western $20; John Korte, Wilber $20; Tom Murphy, Western $20; Janet Eggers, Superior $20; & Olivia Zoubek, Firth $20.
Woitalewicz explained that the celebration is a special one for the community, with many people who have connections to Western coming back to volunteer their time at the Old Settlers Picnic.
“We keep doing this because its tradition,” Woitalewicz said. “It has been done for many years and we want to keep it going. It’s something good for our town, and the fact that we keep it going is great.”