Column: Ronda Graff: Proud to Call Greater Nebraska Home (11/25/22)

Those with a connection to McCook, including the McCook Community Foundation Fund, pose for a photo during the Nebraska Community Foundation’s annual banquet near Omaha last week.

courtesy photo

This time last year, McCook and the McCook Community Foundation Fund were still basking in the glow of Night on the Bricks. In 2021, as part of the Nebraska Community Foundation’s annual training and celebration, McCook hosted Night on the Bricks as a replacement for the traditional sit-down banquet.

Night on the Bricks was a resounding success, both with visitors to the event from across the state and with residents of McCook and southwestern Nebraska.

For those who did not attend the event, the main goal of Night on the Bricks was to highlight all the great things that were happening in McCook and Southwest Nebraska. After attending many conferences and events in nondescript hotels and conference centers that could be located anywhere, Night on the Bricks organizers wanted visitors to know they were in McCook and southwestern Nebraska.

And the full experience was delivered.

There were bierocs from Sehnert’s Bakery, potato bologna from Bertrand, and farm-raised shrimp from Stratton, to name just a few items available along Norris Avenue. Works of art were displayed in shop windows along the street, highlighting all the creativity we have available on a regular basis. And nearly every company decorated early for Christmas to bring that old-fashioned, small-town feeling to the event with lights twinkling in the chilly fall air.

In fact, the event was so successful that it’s still being talked about a year later. Last week at the NCF 2022 event, held in LaVista near Omaha, people from all over the state were still talking about how much they enjoyed Night on the Bricks.

What made Night on the Bricks so appealing? For starters, food and drinks will make any event better. But the night was also a chance to showcase all the great things that are happening in our own backyard, things that we may take for granted or maybe don’t even know exist. The event also allowed people to stroll down McCook’s main street at a leisurely pace, something missing from our busy and fast-paced lives.

And Night on the Bricks was an opportunity to show how proud we are of what we have and what we’re doing.

We have many wonderful things to be proud of. There are artists who do creative artwork on a regular basis. There are unique local businesses finding a way to exist and thrive in this global marketplace. There are unique food items that call McCook and Southwestern Nebraska home. Who had someone visiting this week for Thanksgiving who “needed” onion rings from Mac’s Drive-In?

Night on the Bricks was a night that reminded us that we have a lot of good things happening in our communities. And yes, MCFF has been asked to do it again. But in the meantime, we must take any opportunity we can to highlight and remember all that we have to celebrate on a regular basis.

That’s what MCFF plans to do

Joined by more than 200 people from across Nebraska and the Midwest, several MCFF Advisory Committee members and McCook residents attended the 2022 NCF Training and Celebration and returned inspired by what is happening in rural Nebraska o , as it is sometimes called, Greater Nebraska.

Greater Nebraska can actually have two meanings. The first refers to all communities other than Omaha and Lincoln. Those two communities only cover a small portion of Nebraska, therefore everything else is bigger than Nebraska.

But it can also mean most of Nebraska. We have a lot of good things happening in our communities. The good old days don’t have to be left behind. There are opportunities to make things happen, to see our population grow, to make our communities even better places to call home.

We don’t have to wait for a special event to recognize all the good things around us or to get things done. Instead, let’s be grateful for what we have, learn to say yes to opportunities, and celebrate what we have every day. We are proud to say that we are from Greater Nebraska.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *