Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival

Shared Stories, This Week in History
on April 12, 2011

Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival

Becky Kilpatrick, publicity chairperson

[email protected]

March 1, 2011

Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival Unlocks Nebraska Treasure

For 14 years, a treasure trove has been opened in the center of McCook, Nebraska. The wealth is freely distributed during the second weekend of June each year. The 15th treasure will be opened on June 10-11, 2011, when some of the world’s best storytellers and musicians will spill their abundant talent over treasure seekers from near and far.

Headlining this year’s Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival will be world renown storyteller Awele Makeba from Oakland, California, Western Music’s famed Diamond W Wranglers, Wichita, Kansas, and our state’s favorite cowboy poet R.P. Smith, Broken Bow, Nebraska.

“Each festival is my favorite,” co-founder and co-chair of the Buffalo Commons event Cloyd Clark said, “but I think this year’s might set a new level of excellence.”

The festival, themed “Tales and Trails,” includes entertainment for the entire family. From cowboy tales recounted while touring some of southwest Nebraska’s rugged ranch country to an old fashioned chuck wagon dinner and dance at the beautifully renovated Keystone Hotel to an afternoon in front of the band shell at Norris Park to an evening concert at the Historic Fox Theatre, you won’t want to miss this exciting opportunity to enjoy the music and stories of professional entertainers and to learn the art of sharing and preserving your own personal and family memories. The festival promises two fun-packed days wrapped in the warm hospitality of one of the Great Plains’ most welcoming communities.

The festival kicks off Friday morning with a Wild West Bus Ride tracing the historic cattle trails that meander  through the rugged southwest Nebraska hills. Margaret and Gary Kraisinger, Halstead, Kansas historians and authors of “The Western: The Greatest Texas Cattle Trail 1874-1886,” will share tales of conflicts between the drovers and homesteaders, Indian encounters and the lives of the tenacious cowboys who shepherded the thousands of cattle to market. Adding to the tales will be cattlemen and storytellers Jack Maddux, Wauneta, Nebraska and Jim Applegate, Sutherland, Nebraska. Cowboy poet R.P. Smith will make sure the lighter side of tales and trails is not overlooked by adding some side-splitting humor from his perspective.

This event, co-sponsored by the Mid-Plains Community College Center for Enterprise, will fill up fast, so those interested are encouraged to book reservations early.

Friday morning events also include the college’s once in a lifetime musical learning extravaganza with the Diamond W Wranglers. The opportunity to make music and learn from some of the best Western Music creators in the nation is something that shouldn’t be missed. Register now!

Friday afternoon is also the time to hone your own or your children’s storytelling skills from one of the world’s master artists. Awele Makeba will be at the McCook Public Library to paint pictures with words, breathe life into characters, teach and inspire through the power of story with her own personal tales, history, folklore and literature. This is an unprecedented opportunity to learn and enjoy the art of storytelling.

Meanwhile, back at the beautiful Keystone Business Center, preparations will be underway for the Chuckwagon Jamboree featuring good eatin’ and all the headliners. Award winning and internationally known storyteller, recording artist and educator Awele Makeba will treat the audience to her own tale of western trails. The Diamond W Wranglers will perform classic Western Music of the silver-screen cowboy era, such as “Cool Water,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” and “Ghost Riders In The Sky,” as well as classic cowboy trail songs and Wranglers’ originals. R.P. Smith will be back in the saddle with more good ranch humor set to rhythm and rhyme.

If you were expedient enough to get into Friday afternoon’s dance lessons or just have the urge to tap your heels,  you’ll be ready for a little swingin’  on the dance floor during the Jamboree. Following the Jamboree, you’re invited to share your own best ghost story or just enjoy those that others tell down the street at the Bieroc Cafe.

Saturday is alive with activities beginning with events at the High Plains Museum. Share community stories and  meet the headliners up close and personal. Or venture across the street to the beautiful Memorial United Methodist Church to share spiritual stories with R.P. Smith. At noon head down to the Bieroc for lunch and open microphone for sharing your stories or listen to the vast array of stories others share. Talented emcees Mary Ellen Goodenberger, cattle woman, storyteller, educator and one of the founders of the Buffalo Commons Festival will recount her own sometimes humorous, often times poignant experiences, and Walt Sehnert, historian, columnist, author and entertainer will taunt you to remember the events of your life. The community’s young voices will continue the Bieroc tradition of keeping music and poetry as you enjoy a cool beverage or pastry from the bakery.

If you’d like to bring a Norman Rockwell moment into your life, visit with George Norris at his home on Heritage Square and bring the family to the Kids Fest at Norris Park. If balmy summer gatherings at the park band shell are memories you’d like to capture once more, the free array of Saturday afternoon stories and music will take you back in time or create that special memory for the first time.

The Festival concludes with the big show at McCook’s Historic Fox Theatre with all of the headliners. This spectacular event, emceed by McCook’s own tale spinner Cal Siegfried. will culminate in the best stories, music and cowboy poetry you can imagine. The talent brought to the stage will leave you with a song in your heart and a story ready to be told.

Join in the fun and inspiration at the Buffalo Commons Storytelling Festival, June 10-11, 2011, in McCook, Storytelling Capital of Nebraska. The treasure you find may be the one you’ve searched a lifetime to remember.

For information and tickets contact:-

McCook Area Chamber of Commerce

P.O. Box 337 McCook, NE 69001

800-657-2179 or 308-345-3200


[email protected]

College Workshops

McCook Community College

1205  E. 3rd St. McCook,  NE 69001

(308) 345-8122 (800) 658-4348

Buffalo Commons Festival 2011 Schedule

Friday, June 10

•           MCC College Courses

         Music Workshop with the Diamond W Wranglers

         Wild West Bus Tour with R.P. Smith, Jack Maddux, Jim Applegate, the Kraisingers

Public Library

•           1:30  Librarian & Youth Workshop with Awele Makeba

Fox Theatre Stage

•           4:30-6:00 Western Dance Lessons with Robyn Marks and Don Harpst

Keystone Hotel

•           6:30 Chuck Wagon Jamboree with The Wranglers, Makeba, Smith, Emcee Cal Seigfried

Bieroc Café

•           10:00 p.m. Ghost stories with Awele Makeba, R.P. Smith, local tellers. Emcee Duane Tappe

Saturday, June 11

•             9:00  Tales & Trails Community Stories, High Plains Museum

•           10:00  Storytelling with Awele Makeba, High Plains Museum

•           10:30  Spiritual Stories, Methodist Church. R.P. Smith

•           11:00 Diamond W Wranglers, High Plains Museum

Bieroc Café

•           12:30 Community Stories, Open Mic with Walt Sehnert and Mary Ellen Goodenberger

•             1:30 Young Trail Blazers music and stories

Heritage Square

•           1:30 Tea with Senator George Norris. Norris House

•           1:30  Kids Fest  (ADK and Southwest Reading Council), Norris Park

•           2:30 Awele Makeba, Norris Park

•           3:00 Band Stand Show, The Wranglers, local music talent, open mic stories,  Norris Park

Fox Theater

•           7:30 “Happy Tales to You” with Emcee Cal Siegfried, Diamond W Wranglers, Awele Makeba, R.P. Smith