ASHLAND – There was an alien invasion during the annual Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce banquet Saturday night.
Not only were there “little green men” decorating the tables and room at Round the Bend Steak House, an alien spoke to the assembled group of business owners and city leaders.
The alien announced that the theme of the 2020 Stir-Up celebration will center on the alien abduction that allegedly took place in Ashland in 1967.
On Dec. 3, 1967, Ashland police officer Herbert Schirmer, 22, reported that he encountered an alien spacecraft while on patrol in the middle of the night. He saw a football-shaped, shiny metal ship hovering in the air. The object landed and humanoid beings emerged, beckoning Schirmer to come with him.
“Are you the watchman of this town?” the alien asked. Schirmer replied affirmatively. The alien said, “Come with me, watchman.”
Schirmer entered the ship. The alien communicated wordlessly to the policeman that he would one day see the alien’s world. After he was released, Schirmer, returned to the police station and wrote in his logbook: “Saw a UFO at Junction 6 and 63. Believe it or not!”
With this in mind, Stir-Up Co-Chair Cindy Walsh donned a bright green alien suit to talk about the upcoming summer festival with the other co-organizer, Shelly Pfeiffer.
“Fifty-two years later we decided to bring the aliens to us,” said Walsh.
Chamber President Brad Pfeiffer said the Schirmer story is one of the “top 10 most credible UFO sightings” in the country.
Shelly Pfeiffer said the organizers wanted to go with a fun, whimsical motif this year after last year’s theme, “Ashland Strong,” which referred to the support the area residents showed in the face of historic flooding last March.
“This year we’re just going to have a little more fun,” said Pfeiffer.
While the exact wording of the theme has not yet been chosen, it will center around the Schirmer abduction story. Brad Pfeiffer said they are hoping to get a supply of the Star Snake Dank IPA beer brewed by Kindaider Brewing Co. in Broken Bow last year in honor of the story.
The Stir-Up will continue to grow as it has over the past few years. Shelly Pfeiffer said there will be new carnival rides and some new events like a garden tractor pull.
Brad Pfeiffer also told the Chamber members that the organization will hold a special ceremony complete with guest speakers and fireworks on May 1 to dedicate the second series of Heroes Banners to grace Highway 6.
Speeches from representatives of the City of Ashland, the Ashland Area Economic Development Corporation and Ashland-Greenwood Public Schools also told of accomplishments in 2019.
Brad Pfeiffer said the Ashland area is becoming an example of how to do things the right way for other Nebraska communities. He regularly fields inquiries from other cities and Chambers of Commerce across the state asking for advice.
“Apparently we’re making headlines somewhere other than Ashland,” he said.
The Chamber also presented awards during the banquet. The Ashland Ministerial Association received the President’s Award for the work the organization does to help the community. And Catrina Harris and Brad Carlson were recognized with an award for their dedication to the Chamber.