Berta Grover fed a carrot slice to an Alpaca named Andy.

Nearby, Karlee Shuster brushed a miniature Sicilian donkey.

And Bernie Devoe petted a bunny.

All were taking part in Nye Legacy’s Annual Country Fair. About 50 visitors and 50 family members and volunteers participated in the recent event, which brings a country experience to folks who might not get to attend a county fair this summer.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Julie Vejnovich as her 99-year-old mother, Lorene Hatfield, petted a soft bunny. “They have memories of their childhood and fairs. It brings back their youth.”

Skilled care residents and short-stay rehab clients had the opportunity to stop by the petting zoo just outside the facility’s front doors or visit a large room that resembled a county fair exhibit hall.

Inside this room were displays of produce and photographs. Visitors could get cotton candy, popcorn or some sugary orange Circus Peanuts, a marshmallow-type treat.

“We have displays of veggies and quilts. The staff, family, residents and volunteers all could bring something dear to them that they’d like to display,” said Jill Stober, the life enrichment director.

Staffers were able to bring family to the event.

Emily Shuster, who works at Nye Legacy, brought her 4-year-old daughter, Karlee. While at the petting zoo, the child carefully combed a donkey.

“I thought she’d enjoy meeting new people,” Shuster said of her child. “She has a heart for seniors like I do. She likes meeting everybody.”

Attendees said they like the event, which brings families together for an activity.

“I think he’s enjoying all the attention,” Devoe said, while petting a bunny.

Devoe’s great-granddaughter, Ainsley Devoe of Omaha, had a chance to pet the rabbit, too.

Does Ainsley want to be a veterinarian when she grows up?

“I change my mind every month,” the girl said. “I wanted to be a veterinarian. Now I want to be a zookeeper.”

Darla Garretson of LaRue’s Little Horse Ranch in Scribner isn’t a zookeeper, but did bring a variety of animals for the petting zoo. Besides alpacas, donkeys and rabbits, she also brought goats.

“We just love seeing everybody enjoy the animals,” she said.

Stober believes people like the event.

“It makes the residents happy,” she said. “It brings back a lot of happy memories for them.”

She recalls one resident’s comments a few years ago.

“I really felt like I had been to the fair,” the woman said.

Stober was pleased.

“That was one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten,” Stober said, “because I knew it brought enjoyment to her day.”

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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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