Where will you be August 21, 2017? That was the question of the day for the 2016/2017 Leadership Lincoln County class who participated in December's session on Tourism and Hospitality.
The day began with a presentation by Lisa Burke, Executive Director of the North Platte Visitor's Bureau about tourism and taxation followed by a visit to the North Platte Visitor's Bureau where Lisa and her employees, Courtney Fegter, Lauren Grabau, and Michelle Thomas spoke to the class about tourism in North Platte and Lincoln County. One of the biggest events that they are marketing right now is the 2017 Solar Eclipse that will pass over Nebraska at 12:54 pm on August 21, 2017 creating darkness for about 2 minutes in the middle of the day. Rural areas including Tryon and Stapleton will be hosts to thousands of international visitors coming to see the eclipse as well as the festival surrounding the phenomenon.
Scouts Rest Ranch was the next stop of the day where the class was given a tour of the 1886 mansion and barn. The ranch was home to Buffalo Bill during the heyday of his famous "Wild West Show", which debuted in North Platte as the " Old Glory Blowout" in 1882. Buffalo Bill was buried in Cody, Wyoming and his former mansion in North Platte became a state historical park in 1965.
Lunch was catered by the Holiday Inn and sponsored by Nancy Faulhaber of Coldwell Banker at the Nebraskaland Days Office. David Fudge, Executive Director of NEBRASKAland DAYS presented to the class just after lunch about the impact of the NEBRASKAland DAYS festival on North Platte's economy. The stats presented were astonishing! For example, in 2016, the festival had visitors from 36 states and 2 foreign countries.
At the Quality Inn, Megan McGown and Gary Person of the North Platte Chamber talked to the class about economic development in North Platte including past projects, future projects, and the limitations they are battling in today's economy. Another great aspect of tourism that North Platte has to offer is our array of outdoor sporting and activities. Dusty Barner, owner of Dusty Trails LLC of North Platte, also, talked to the class about the activities that are available in North Platte at his facility including horseback riding, canoeing, tanking, kayaking, horseback riding lessons and training, wagons rides, and more. The last presenter at the Quality inn was Leland Poppe of Great Western Bank. In this interactive presentation on TIF projects, LLC participants were able to act in a skit following the process of applying for Tax Incremental Financing.
The session wrapped up with a tour by Kirsten Parker of the Golden Spike Tower, which provides immaculate views of the world's largest railyard to all train enthusiasts. On average, the Golden Spike Tower welcomes roughly 30,000 guests each year. Guests from all counties in Nebraska, all 50 states and nearly 40 countries, annually!
It is clear to see that Nebraska, and North Platte specifically, has SO much to offer the world. We are proud of our western heritage and offer attractions unlike anybody else.