The date for the Sesquicentennial was established fifty years ago, as the Seward forefathers decided to celebrate Seward’s centennial and founding based on the establishment of the post office in Seward-April 1, 1867. It was convenient to have Seward’s and Seward County’s Centennial in conjunction with Nebraska’s in 1967, the Seward Quasquicentennial (125th birthday) was celebrated in 1992 and thus the Seward Sesquicentennial will be celebrated in 2017-fifty years after the centennial and 150 years from the founding of Seward!
It will be the trifecta of birthdays in 2017, as the City of Seward, Seward County and the State of Nebraska all will be celebrating their 150th Birthdays in 2017. Local committees are organized and planning is underway to mark this special anniversary event with a host of celebrations throughout the year-beginning March 1 of 2017-Nebraska’s Statehood Day.
Volunteers have met monthly to plan and coordinate the area activities for the Seward and Nebraska Centennial happenings in the area. The official mission of the Seward Sesquicentennial (S150) Committee is to develop, promote, coordinate and sponsor activities and projects that assist and create an awareness of Seward’s 150th Anniversary during 2017- the celebration year of the founding of Seward April 1, 1867. The committee is an all-volunteer effort, with representatives from various civic and local volunteer organizations, community leaders and various volunteers with specific interests. The organizational structure is that the group is an official arm of both the Seward Arts Council and July 4 Committee to allow use of 501 C 3 status, as the group will only be organized for the next year. “It is that spirit of cooperation that makes the celebration work. We have a large number of people willing to work on various interests and a cause for the celebration and our duty is to make the coordination of the celebration work. By incorporating the existing organizations, we can build on their leadership and expertise to guarantee that this celebration will be one to remember!” – Becky Baker, Seward 150 Vice Chairman
“We have some major events for 2017-including a Kick Off Banquet Celebration March 5th, The Nebraska Chautauqua Celebration-honoring World War I , a Grand July 4 Celebration-officially declared the Nebraska Sesquicentennial July Fourth Celebration by the State Sesquicentennial Commission. There will be so many extra events that center on the 150th Birthday celebration, saluting our heritage and the pioneer spirit,” commented Sandy Wright, Seward 150 treasurer. “I think we will have something for everyone in 2017 during the celebration year! It will be a fun year to be in Seward!”
The official theme for the 2017 Seward Sesquicentennial is “Deep Roots, High Hopes,” which was created by Natalie Schmieding of rural Seward County-a recent graduate in graphic arts from Concordia University. She also developed the logo/seal and donated it to the celebration committee. Both were selected in a contest held early in the organizational year and premiered at the July 4 Kick off celebration on June 7, 2016. The logo/seal can be found on various promotional materials, such as commemorative coffee mugs or holiday ornaments.
“One area or thrust for our group is that of recognizing and commemorating our area homesteaders-as we hope to honor the many, many homesteaders and the families that have remained loyal to their land and farms,“ commented Clark Kolterman. “We are still in the planning process, but the homesteaders made the county a success and it is so important to recognize that heritage, as we hope to have some type of recognition on Memorial Day or at the County Fair!”
The annual Seward July 4 Celebration and Events will follow the Sesquicentennial theme and play official host to the state, as the Nebraska Commission has designated Seward the official July 4 Sesquicentennial event for Nebraska in 2017, a revival of the Seward Water Carnival in August is in the works, the Seward County Fair will focus on the Sesquicentennial Heritage and a Mass Church Choir concert is planned for early fall of 2017, as well as a major quilt show at the Seward County Ag Pavilion featuring hundreds of quilts and the states Sesquicentennial touring quilt show.
Several heritage “fashions through the decades” shows, exhibits and programs are being created and various art exhibits are being planned to commemorate the Sesquicentennial at the Red Path Gallery and Tasting Room, as well as the Langworthy Gallery at the Seward Civic Center. The committee is also planning a special water color art contest –open to all artists in Nebraska in the fall of 2017.
The new Nebraska National Guard Museum is planning a series of special exhibits and programing in conjunction with the area Chautauqua, as well as other special coordinated efforts to honor their Prairie Soldiers-the first Guardsmen of Nebraska. They plan to be very involved in the local planning and efforts for Seward’s July 4 celebration, along with numerous other activities and events related to saluting the heritage of the National Guard and area veterans.
Concordia University too has taken on the celebration mode, incorporating the Sesquicentennial in the annual Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival and with the 2017 Homecoming event, along with other various art and musical happening in 2017.
Two of the official hosts for the Seward 150 event are local students-area fifth grade students dressed as Sesquicentennial Sam (Noah Fields of Seward Middle School) and Sesquicentennial Sue (Julya Metschke of St. John’s Lutheran School). “These two students, both previous July 4 royalty, have agreed to be the official hosts for Seward’s Sesquicentennial events and hopefully will represent the youth and future of our community! They have created their own special official Sesquicentennial outfits to look like children of 1867! It is always fun to showcase youth and they are already doing a wonderful job, representing our group and the celebration,” stated Kolterman.
The Seward County Independent is planning a special Sesquicentennial Special Edition –commemorating the first 150 years of the Greater Seward area and it plans to present that commemorative piece early in 2017, and the year plans to conclude with the Christmas Grand Parade in Seward the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
“We feel celebrations bring people together even more and assist in making the sense of community even stronger,” states Clark Kolterman. “Birthdays are always important and the 150th should be even more special. We want to capitalize on what we already have going-enhancing existing programs with Seward’s Sesquicentennial theme and make the entire year-from March 1 to the end of November- one of the best years ever for all of Seward!”
Happy Birthday Seward, Seward County and Nebraska! We all look forward to many more together-indeed…”Deep Roots-High Hopes!”