Eighty-degree temperatures, sunny skies and cooling breezes provided perfect weather for the three-and-one-half day Plattsmouth Harvest Festival beginning the evening of Sept. 7 on Sixth and Main Streets.
The festival always begins with a Royalty Dinner for past Harvest Festival kings, queens, lords and ladies, as well as the new candidates for these positions.
This year, the dinner took place at Plattsmouth State Bank with Mom’s Café catering a meal of pork, chicken, rice and dessert. Korn Klub member Cindy Dougherty coordinates the banquet and was pleased with the meal and attendance.
“We served 73 people and I thought everything was great,” Dougherty said. “The food was awesome and I had a lot of compliments on the meal. Mom’s did a great job.”
The long wait to learn the identities of the new king and queen was over with Korn Klub Treasurer Brian Harvey announcing George Blessing III of Murray and Gracie Kliegl of Beaver Lake as the new king and queen. (See in-depth biographical information on B1).
The two new royals enjoyed spending the next three days together partaking in the festival activities. “Everything was just amazing,” Kliegl said. “Everyone put so much work into making this festival special for everyone.”
Activities included attending the bed races, the flag-burning ceremony, chicken races, cake walk, grand and kiddie parades, fly-in breakfast and the Little Miss and Masters pageant to name a few.
Kliegl even competed in some of the activities including entering the chicken races and running barefoot in the bed races on DC’s Waterhole’s team.
“It was really fun, even though I got hit with a water balloon,” she said.
One of her most memorable times was having her pictures taken with the local veterans and with all the Little Miss and Masters candidates.
“It makes me happy to see them happy,” Kliegl said.
She also enjoyed taking two plane rides and a helicopter ride during the fly-in breakfast at Plattsmouth Municipal Airport.
“I cannot wait to see what the year will bring with King George as we attend area events,” she said.
Blessing, a native son of Cass County and someone who has always attended the festival, said he especially enjoyed serving as king for the festival this year.
When festival adviser Terry Little first contacted him about being the new king, Blessing said he was concerned about getting on stage due to his reliance on a Segway to move about. “I told him the Segway is versatile and could do a lot of things, but that we would need a ramp for me to travel onto the stage,” Blessing said.
Steve Kahler, owner of Bigfoot manufacturing, provided the answer. “Steve is a lifelong resident of Plattsmouth and he had exactly what we needed. Between Steve, Al Aylor (street superintendent) and the city street crew, they were able to attach a ramp to the stage,” Blessing said.
Blessing added a lighted sign to his Segway and the new king was off and mobilized. “One of my biggest concerns is that I didn’t want to embarrass Gracie, the queen, because I would be on the Segway. But everything went as planned,” he said.
In fact, Blessing taught Kliegl how to ride a Segway. “We’re planning on going to the Applejack Parade and riding side-by-side on them.”
Blessing said he was very grateful to his distant cousin, Roger Wiles, for making this year’s festival especially meaningful for him. “He took such good care of us. He was like our chaperone. We were impressed with the whole Harvest Festival and the way they put on the program. To be that closely involved in it was impressive to me,” Blessing said. “It was just a great experience.”
In addition to the festival, Blessing said he and Kliegl visited the Masonic Home, Waterford at the Woodbridge and Plattsmouth Care and Rehabilitation Center. “There were so many people I met and enjoyed talking to, especially those my wife and I refer to as ‘angels’ at the assisted living homes,” he said.
Blessing also admires Kliegl’s openness to learning new skills, such as riding the Segway. “One of her interests was going to the Chicken Chariot Race. She wanted to hold a chicken and she raced one three different times and won three times,” he said.
Kliegl was not the only one enthralled by the chicken races. Korn Klub member and organizer of the races Christine MacLellan said there were 22 entries, four of which who brought their own chickens. “Entries not only came from Plattsmouth, but also Omaha, Papillion, Weeping Water and Council Bluffs, Iowa,” she said.
First place was won by Mary McConnell of Council Bluffs; second place, Alexa Abercrombie of Plattsmouth, and third place, the Horn family of Weeping Water.
“We received $100 from anonymous donor,” MacLellan said. “KFC also donated gift cards.”
First-place winner received $50, a traveling trophy and a $10 KFC gift card. Second place earned $30 and a $5 KFC gift card, and third place $20 and a $5 KFC gift card.
“Next year we’d like to present a best-made chariot prize,” MacLellan said.
Harvey echoed MacLellan’s sentiments about the race. “This is the second year we brought them back and they had a great turnout for participants and the audience as well,” he said.
MacLellan also organized the ugly pickup contest. “We had five trucks that entered. First place went to Gary Foster, second place to Glenn Foster and third place to Jeff Wickman,” she said. “I want to thank NAPA Auto Parts and Linder Firestone for donating for this.”
MacLellan said 24 participated in the egg toss Saturday. Steube’s Thriftway donated the eggs and gift bags. Plattsmouth Public Library donated new books as prizes.
MacLellan’s work wasn’t done until the cake walk was over. “We had over 35 cakes, pies, cupcakes and brownies donated for prizes. I’d like to especially thank all the church members who made goods for the cake walk. The Cass County Bank employees also opened the bank and helped give away the cakes and pies. I’d like to thank them all for making it a success,” she said.
Living Waters Church donated a beautifully decorated apple basket cake that MacLellan said was just too wonderful to put on the walk, so it was raffled off instead.
With so many activities to organize, MacLellan said she wanted to thank all her family and friends for helping with activities every year. “Without them I could never do it,” she said.
Harvey said the entire festival was a success. “We had terrific selections for king and queen and I think they had a great time the entire weekend,” he said. “They tried to hit as many events as they could and represented Plattsmouth Harvest Festival very well.”
He said he was impressed with the fireworks show sponsored by the city of Plattsmouth last Friday night. “It was beyond fabulous this year. I’ve had lots of positive comments about it,” Harvey said.
Harvey has organized the Grand Parade for more than a decade. This year, 65 entries participated in it. “It was really nice to see more groups putting together floats for the parade. There were more than last year. It was also nice to see the business community supporting that parade as well. The streets were packed full of people for the parade, because it’s the grand culmination of the festival,” he said.
Harvey also noted an increased participation from outside of Plattsmouth. “We had 4-H Clubs that participated as well as Miss Cass County Sydney Keckler, Miss Eagle Dani Schreiber and Cass County Princess Maddie Daly,” he said.
Throughout the festival, Korn Klub President Chad Aaron thanked the many volunteers for helping keep the events ongoing for 86 consecutive years.
“Eighty-six years ago some people had a crazy idea to have a Harvest Festival. I wonder what they would think if they could see it now and how it has grown,” Aaron said.
(For more coverage of the Harvest Festival see B1-4 or visit www.cass-news.com.)