Several years before he passed away, Edward VanWinkle expressed his desire for Cairo’s veterans to have a proper memorial. So the Korean War veteran took it upon himself to make it happen.
After his death in 2014, his wife, Judy, and his son, Kirby, carried on with his mission. Now the southeast corner at Highway 11 and Nile Street is being transformed into the Cairo Veterans Memorial Park.
Phase 1, completed last year, features a 90-foot, brick memorial wall where veterans’ names can be engraved. Phase 2 will include a 30-foot by 8-foot brick wall with a 26-foot by 4-foot black granite mural and is set to be dedicated Sept. 11.
To honor the VanWinkles’ contribution to the community, Judy will serve as grand marshal for the Cairo CornStalk Festival Parade on Saturday.
The festival, which returns after a year off in 2020, kicks off tonight with free hot dogs and hamburgers at the Pool Park and a cornhole tournaments at the tennis courts.
“But Saturday is our big day,” said Christy Osburn, chair of the festival committee.
Events start early with 5K fun run at 7 a.m. and a sand volleyball tournament at 8 a.m. More activities for folks of all ages continue through the day with turtle races (noon, Pool Park), a classic car show (11 a.m.-1 p.m., Community Center), bingo, pitch tournament and more.
The parade, which carries the theme “Big Heart, Small Town USA,” starts at 10:30 a.m.
“The theme reflects what the community has gone through the past year,” Osburn said.
Two evening events are for adults who are 21 and older and start with “Beef, Bottles & Bands,” an event first offered in 2019.
“It was a huge success,” Osburn said, “so we decided to bring it back for 2021.”
Running from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Community Center, “Beef, Bottles & Bands” features beverages from area wineries and distilleries, food, music and more. Admission is $20 and includes the street dance that follows.
The street dance with music from the Emmett Bower Band starts at 9 p.m. and wraps up at 1 a.m. Admission is $10.
The Cairo Volunteer Fire Department will be servings barbecue starting at 9 p.m. with a cost of $10.
For more information and a detailed scheduled of events, check out the CornStalk Festival page on Facebook.
A community festival that dates back more than 25 years, but rebranded as Giltner Daze four years ago, is set for Saturday in Giltner.
Janet Humphrey, secretary of the Giltner Area Development Corp, which sponsors the event, said planners kept the event “pretty low-key this year.”
But even with no parade, the day has a full schedule.
A tractor pull for kids and adults starts at 9 a.m., as does a volleyball tournament in the park.
A penny dig for kids starts at 10 a.m.
“The penny dig is just what it sounds like,” Humphrey said. “You get a big pile of sand, mix in a lot of coins, including pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, and let the kids dig in. Some of them can come off with quite a haul.”
Inflatables including a climbing wall, bounce house and obstacle course will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A photo scavenger hunt for teens and adults starts at 1 p.m.
No festival is complete without food and Giltner Daze includes ice cream and snow cones served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the park, and a pulled pork lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Community Center.
Also on the schedule:
Comstock Windmill Festival, Friday and Saturday, Comstock. Entertainment lineup includes: Chris Janson, Allie Colleen and Lucas Hoge on Friday; and Logan Mize, Chevel Shepherd and Josh Gracin on Saturday; main stage music starts at 6 p.m. nightly. Extreme Bull Riding is set for Saturday afternoon. Ticket information: windmillfestival.com
“Joy in Justice,” PRIDE Celebration and March, recognizing the LGBTQ+ community and sponsored by Hastings PFLAG, 2-6 p.m., Highland Park; march along Burlington Avenue starts at 2:30 p.m. Event also includes speakers, nonprofit displays, photo booth, LGBTQ vendors, discussions, food vendors, music and more. Information: Hastings-NE Pride on Facebook.