Christmas on the Prairie

CHRISTMAS ON THE PRAIRIE:  Erin Hauser, curator for the Saunders County Historical Society, puts the finishing touches on a tree that is one of many featured at the Festival of Trees during Christmas on the Prairie, set for Dec. 7 and 8 in Wahoo. (Staff Photo by Chris Legband)

WAHOO – It’s that time of year again. The Annual Christmas on the Prairie is scheduled for Dec. 7 and 8 at the Saunders County Museum.

“A Pearly White Christmas” is the 30th year for the event, and coordinator Janice Schliefert, who has been involved with the event for 25 years, said this year there are many old favorites and some new surprises.

“Pearls signify the 30 years,” Schliefert said. “Visitors can wander throughout the two-day celebration where there will be coffee and cookies at the main museum as well as the Festival of Trees which are throughout the museum. The old Burlington Depot, District 42 Schoolhouse and the Weston Presbyterian Church will be decorated for the Christmas holidays and available to take a peek back in time.”

In the main museum there are unique gifts and baked goods as well as hand-crafted items that are perfect for gift giving. A silent auction will be held in the Zanuck Exhibit with nearly 50 items to include gift baskets, cook books and pictures.

“All proceeds from the auction go back to the museum for museum supplies,” said Schliefert.

Another mainstay at the event is the Festival of Trees. Christmas trees are decorated by local residents, families and other organizations. Trees represent Nebraska’s history in a variety of themes, some represent specific decades, said Schliefert.

“We’ve been doing the trees for quite a while,” she said. “When the event first started they had absolutely no money. Everything was volunteer and donations. We have evolved to being able to create some funding through the auction and other donations.”

Schliefert said she started out as a demonstrator doing wagon wheel weaving and then helped wherever she was needed. It slowly progressed until she was promoted to being the chairman of the event.

“I never thought I would be in charge of the entire event but I love it,” she said. “Many of the programs throughout the years have been so fantastic, especially the programs we get through Nebraska Humanities.”

One program new to this year’s lineup is “A Century of Fashion: Lingerie” by Susan McLain. McLain – known as “Yesterday’s Lady” is a Humanities Nebraska speaker who has traveled the Midwest, entertaining groups with a variety of fashion programs.

McLain said her story is filled with lingerie from the Victorian Era thru 1960s.

“I have some beautiful pieces to share from the different decades! I have been involved in this event for several years,” McLain said. “I love coming to this event and seeing old friends. This is a wonderful event and they do a great job and I’m so thankful to be a part of it.”

McLain’s program starts at 2 p.m. on Dec. 8 at the church.

At 2 p.m. on Dec. 8, Charlotte Endorff will present “No time on My Hands,” a program about quilter Grace Snyder. Endorff is a Nebraska author and is also a Humanities Nebraska presenter. Endorff said Snyder was born in 1882 and lived to be 100. She moved to Nebraska with her parents from Missouri when she was only three. Her dream was to make the most beautiful quilts in the world.

At the Union Bank there will be around 30 quilts to see. The quilt show is both days 2 to 8 p.m.

“There is also a quilt raffle,” said Schliefert. “There is one girl who does the quilt and does beautiful work. The money from the raffle also benefits the museum.”

Throughout both days, musical performers a menagerie of historic presentations take place from 2 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Admission to the event is free.

“We usually bring in close to 2000 people,” Schliefert said. “It’s a wonderful event and we look forward to it every year.”

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