CUSTER COUNTY— With many helping hands and lots of hard work, the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Interpretive Center (AKA the Red Barn) on the east side of Broken Bow celebrated 10 years this past week.
Those 10 years have been filled with volunteers assisting locals and travelers as they experience the beauty of the sandhills. Volunteers work at the barn to provide visitors with helpful information about central Nebraska.
Custer County families along with dedicated volunteers, individuals, and businesses donated land and relocated the barn to what used to be 14 acres of alfalfa and have made it into what it is today.
“I thought moving it [the barn] might just collect dust but I guess it turned out pretty good!” Roy Yanagida said.
Custer Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Andrew Ambriz said approximately 250-300 people stopped by during Tuesday’s celebration which included exotic animals brought by the Horn T Zoo. Children and adults enjoyed seeing small alligators, an albino fox, a pair of monkeys, and many other animals.
Three lucky judges also got to enjoy 21 different pies made my local residents during the pie contest! Gorgeous homemade fruit pies ranged from rhubarb and cherry to apple and blueberry peach. Karen Smith was named the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Pie Champion of 2019 with her crunchy caramel apple pie. Second place went to Colleen Webber with her fresh peach pie. June Babcock came in third place with her peach pie.
During the evening wine and cheese reception, Andrew Ambriz said he is proud of all the volunteers and all the work that has been accomplished in the last year.
“None of this could happen day in and day out without the people that show up and choose to invest their time into this facility and everything you see around it,” Ambriz continued. “Obviously we’re celebrating 10 years. Ten years doesn’t just happen and it’s in large part due to the people that said ‘I believe in what you’re doing.'”
Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway President Terri Licking said the barn may be celebrating 10 years, but the byway is celebrating 20 years with more than 200 miles of beautiful Nebraska scenery. She recognized volunteers and people such as the Allens, Yanagidas, Sedlaceks, Downey Well, and many other dedicated people who have invested so much.
Lead Volunteer Rick Maas encourages everyone to visit the barn if they have not done so yet. He loves seeing travelers come through Custer County and enjoys the barn because of its beauty and the joy that seems to fill the red barn.
“It’s great to see the turnout we’ve seen today. The travelers that come through, it’s kind of a two-way deal. We learn a lot from them and they learn something from us, hopefully. And it’s always a joy to visit with them because everybody is always happy!”
Broken Bow cowboy poet R.P. Smith performed to close out the evening, just as he did during the barn dedication 10 years ago.