Ribbon Cut

Fiftieth National Railsplitter Festival gets off to a great start Saturday morning with a ribbon cutting and a second special presentation

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[October 05, 2021]   On Saturday morning the 50th National Railsplitting Festival kicked off in Lincoln with a ribbon cutting ceremony in front of the Postville Courthouse.

The 1800s style festival hosted by the Abraham Lincoln Railsplitting Association has been going on in Lincoln since the 1970’s. Over the years it has taken place in various venues including Lincoln College, the Logan County Fairgrounds, and now Postville Courthouse.

In actuality, the Railsplitter Association has been around for 51 years, and 2020 was supposed to have been their golden anniversary event. However, coronavirus put a halt to those plans and the golden event had to be delayed until 2021.

On Saturday morning, guests witnessing the ribbon cut were reminded that there was no festival in 2020 and asked to join the association in celebrating its return in 2021.

Among the guests behind the ribbon were Association president Darlene Begolka, Vice-president Bob Rankin, Treasurer Diana Skelton and her husband John who is also a member of the association. Lincoln Mayor Tracy Welch was on hand along with aldermen Wanda Less Rohlfs and Keven Bateman. Also behind the ribbon was Lincoln City Clerk Peggy Bateman, Logan County Clerk Theresa Moore, Logan County Tourism Bureau Director Alice Roate, 2021 Miss Logan County Fair Queen Caroline Ahrends, 2021 Logan County Junior Miss Alayna Briggs, and other members of the association along with festival participants.

The first to speak behind the ribbon was Roate on behalf of the tourism Bureau. She said she wanted to thank everyone for coming. She noted that it was quite sad that we had to miss the festival last year, but that she was excited and thankful to see the festival return in 2021. She acknowledged the 50th anniversary, congratulating the association and then wished everyone a good weekend at the festival.

Next person to address the crowd was Mayor Welch. Welch said he echoed the words spoken by Roate, thankful to see the festival return and congratulating the group on its 50th event.

Rankin was the next to speak. He also thanked the crowd and then turned to acknowledging those who were present. He said that many of the people who were involved in the festival and the association were second and third generation members and participants. He also invited anyone who was interested in the association to come and get involved in future festivals.


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The last person to speak was association president Begolka. She began sayins “WOW! Fifty years. Who would have thought a festival could last that long.” She acknowledged all those who had come before and had kept the festival going over the years. She said she was thankful for the weather this weekend. Though warm it was sunny compared to 2019 when it poured down rain on the first day, forcing the ribbon cut to be conducted in the more confined spaces of the courthouse building. She then ended with her traditional exclamation “Let the festival begin!”

John and Diana Skelton had been chosen by Begolka to snip the gold ribbon on the 50th event. It was explained that the Skelton’s were selected because they have over the years, and especially this year gone above and beyond to assure the success of the festival. Begolka had said prior to the event that she and the association were so thankful for the couple, and she felt that allowed them to snip the ribbon was one small way of acknowledging them.

With the speeches completed, posed pictures with the ribbon and scissor were taken, then the countdown to snip the ribbon was started. On command the Skeltons followed the command with much applause from those watching.

Most of the people behind the ribbon dispersed immediately, many going back to their stations where they would remain for the day greeting visitors and offering explanations and demonstrations of their displays.

Begolka, Rankin and the Skeltons were asked to stay put for just a few minutes as there was one more event that was just for them.

Lincoln Daily News implemented the Community Champion traveling trophy in 2019. It had to be halted due to Covid. Now in 2021, LDN is making a slow and careful return of the award.

The small group representing the association was told that LDN had selected them as the September 2021 Community Champions. While LDN staff Karen Hargis and Lisa Ramlow presented the trophy Nila Smith explained that the trophy was given to those whom were seen by LDN as people or groups who go above and beyond to make our community great.

It was noted that while none of the members present actually started the association, they have taken the torch and carried on.

The trophy was presented to them as representatives of all who came before them as well as those who are currently working to keep the festival going.

The group was also given a beautiful planter courtesy of Debbie's Downtown Floral in Lincoln.

After some brief additional conversation, the four representing the association headed off to their various duties for the day, and the festival was officially off to an excellent start.

The festival on Saturday was well attended and LDN will have additional coverage of the 1800s style exhibits and demonstrations that filled the lawn of the courthouse, the vendor market across the street at the VFW and some of the competitions that took place on the back lawn of the courthouse on Saturday and Sunday, starting on Tuesday.

[Nila Smith]

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