Erin Hauser hopes area residents launch their holiday season with Christmas on the Prairie.

Hauser is curator of the Saunders County Historical Society Museum where the annual celebration takes place.

This is the 29th year for the free, family event which includes music, demonstrations, about 25 trees decorated by individuals and groups, along with a silent auction and treats.

The public is invited to the celebration planned from 2-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Saunders County Historical Society Museum, 240 N. Walnut St., in Wahoo.

Visitors also can meander through onsite buildings – decorated for Christmas – which include the old Burlington Depot, District 42 Schoolhouse and Weston Presbyterian Church.

A bake sale and silent auction will be part of the celebration as well.

Last year, an estimated 3,500 people attended the two-day event.

“It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season and it gives them (guests) an opportunity to go through the buildings on our grounds and have a fun time,” Hauser said.

The theme for this year’s celebration is called “Hats Off to Christmas.”

“We have lots and lots of trees decorated in hats,” Hauser said.

The event will include two Humanities Nebraska speakers.

Susan McLain of Beatrice will give a presentation called “To Top It Off – The History of Hats.” Her talk will cover the years of 1837 to the 1960s.

McLain’s program starts at 2 p.m. Saturday in Weston Presbyterian Church on the museum grounds.

Lauren Riedesel of Beatrice will give a program called “History of the Swedish in Nebraska.” Her talk is scheduled from 4-5 p.m. Sunday in the main museum.

Various musical programs are set from 2-7 p.m. Saturday and on Sunday afternoon and early evening in the main museum. Musical presentations are set from 3:15-8 p.m. Saturday and 3-5:30 p.m. Sunday in the church on the museum grounds.

Coffee, cider and cookies will be served in the small meeting room in the main museum.

More than 40 items will be part of a silent auction on the museum’s first floor main exhibit area. Bidders must be at least 18 years old. The auction ends at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Visitors also are encouraged to explore buildings on the museum grounds. Volunteers will be stationed at each building to answer questions.

The buildings include:

  • District 42 Schoolhouse. Children’s activities and take-home crafts are planned from 2-6 p.m. both days.
  • Machine building. Jeremiah and Lyndon Ochsner will provide rope-making demonstrations from 2-8 p.m. Visitors can see how ropes are made and are welcome to make their own unique ropes to take home.
  • Wahoo Burlington Depot. Volunteers will have a model train display running from 2-7:30 p.m. Guests are asked to look, but not touch the display.
  • Museum grounds. Weather permitting, guests can see Grandpa’s Old Time Chores, which include hand corn-shelling, hand sawing, corn grinding, wood sawing, gas engines, and a gas-powered washing machine. This is planned from 2 p.m. until dark.
  • Memphis Post Office. A special postal cancellation will be available. Post cards and seasonal stamps will be available for purchase. The office will be open from 2-7:30 p.m.

Across the street and north of the museum grounds, the upper level of Union Bank will have a display of vintage and modern quilts from 2-8 p.m. Five groups of fiber artists from Fremont, Lincoln and Omaha will demonstrate their crafts, including lace-making, tatting and spinning.

Due to a November accident, the Hanson House – which celebrates the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and Wahoo native Howard Hanson – will not be open for Christmas on the Prairie this year.

However, repairs are underway and the house is set to be reopened in early 2019.

The Hanson House and the train depot are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hauser said hopes area residents will come to the holiday celebration.

“We have people of all ages who come and seem to enjoy themselves,” Hauser said. “To me that’s always the best part.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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