Oregon Trail Days in Gering continued Saturday, July 13, offering several events and activities for the community. Despite the warm temperatures Saturday morning, people of all ages lined the length of Gering’s 10th Street to watch floats and vehicles travel down the street in the Oregon Trail Days Parade.
The parade featured floats and vehicles from local businesses and organizations throughout the county, including the Gering Fire Department’s display of several engines to horse drawn wagons and longhorns showcasing the importance of pioneers and agriculture in our communities. This year’s theme was “Oregon Trail Days: Honestly, It’s for Everyone.”
The parade is a highlight of the weekend festivities and has become a family tradition for many, including Charlie Martinez and her children.
“We like making memories every year,” Martinez said. “The older they get, the more they remember from the previous year.”
Every year the Martinez’s arrive an hour before the parade to find their location. This year, they sat at the northeast corner of R Street and 10th Street. Martinez said they chose the location because it’s close to where the parade begins and they can easily get out afterward.
As they continue a weekend of family fun, Martinez is comforted by the community atmosphere of Gering.
“I like the small town feel that you get to do this stuff and not have to worry about big city things,” she said. “I like that our town is very trusting and that everyone knows each other and we can say ‘hi’ and no one judges you.”
Following the parade, they continued their family day with a visit to the craft show and had a picnic in the park.
The Martinez family was not the only one to arrive early to the parade. Many families found their spot in the shade by the courthouse or under an umbrella.
To stay cool in the heat, Ella Strom, of Gering, enjoyed a strawberry smoothie from McDonald’s as she sat on the curb in front of the courthouse.
“I like to spend time with my family,” Strom said.
While she recently moved to the area and said she is excited to see what Oregon Trail Days is about, she has seen the parade before.
“I’ve seen the parade before, but each time they change something,” she said.
BraeLynn Lloyd of Gering ate Krabby Patties as she awaited for the procession to travel down 10th Street.
“I like that some parades throw candy,” Lloyd said. “I like bubble gum.”
Miss Old West Balloon Fest Nikki Catrina-Anderson and Miss Scotts Bluff County Sheridan Blanco made an appearance in the parade.
Gov. Pete Ricketts also walked in the parade, greeting community members and wishing everyone a happy Oregon Trail Days. During Ricketts’ walk, he approached Zayden and Alexis Holten and gave them a high-five.
“It was cool,” Zayden said.
Zayden added it was nice of Ricketts to come over to him and say hi.
The Gering High School and Junior High marching bands, under the direction of Ben Veilleux, were part of the parade. The high school band has marched in the OTD parade for several years.
Following the parade, the judges met to select the winners in the general, art, historical, youth, religious and commercial float categories as well as an overall champion.
Riverside Discovery Center’s float was selected overall grand champion.
In the general category, first place went to the Scottsbluff High School Class Reunion of 1989. Second place was Panhandle Equality and third place was the Gering Girls Softball Association.
Skipper’s Cupboard won in the art category and Agate Fossil Beds National Monument won the historical category.
Gering Central Church of Christ placed first in the religious category. Second place was Country Gospel Band Joseph and Sheryl Applegarth and third was Celebrate Recovery.
In the youth category, Riverside Discovery Center finished first. Westco Baseball’s float was second and Sylvia Lopez, who was crowned the Cinco de Mayo princess, received third place for her float.
Regional West Health Services won the commercial category. Platte Valley Bank was second and Allo rounded out the top three.
Saturday afternoon, the community enjoyed several activities from the 33rd annual Nebraska state championship CASI chili cook-off, horseshoe tournament and music festival.
The 98th annual Oregon Trail Days concluded Sunday with the OTD Panhandle Quilt Show from noon to 5 p.m. and the Gospel Jubilee featuring The Hebberts and other special guests at 7 p.m at Legion Park.