Fair Board fine tunes events for Military Appreciation Day
July 13, 2023
CHEYENNE COUNTY – On July 5, members of the Cheyenne County Fair Board met with various representatives and volunteers working to ensure the Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement and First Responders day on Wed., July 26 is successful.
During the roughly two hour meeting, the board heard from several individuals involved with voluntarily hosting a number of events during the designated day at the fair.
The board announced it is officially sponsoring three of the events during the Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement and First Responders day while the various volunteers will sponsor the remaining events. Those events include the 4H Quilt of Valor with the flag retirement ceremony hosted by Fred Wiedeburg, the K9 demonstration from Cheyenne County Sheriff's Office (CCSO), and the Rodeo Queen who will carry the flag on a back of a truck or four-by-four for the various events for that day.
The 4H Quilt of Valor will be presented to a pre-selected veteran by University of Nebraska (UNL) Cheyenne County Extension 4H Director Lynn McKinney as Wiedeburg conducts the flag retirement ceremony.
Those who have flags which need to be properly retired are encouraged to reach out to Wiedeburg before the day of the fair event to be able to participate.
The fire required for the flag retirement will begin at 6 p.m. and the Quilt of Valor will be presented at 7 p.m.
CCSO will host a drug sniffing dog demonstration with a plant car during the day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the grassy area just outside the grandstand.
Military, Veterans, Law Enforcement and First Responders Day Volunteer organizer Shelly Sutherland explained to board members the Sidney Police Department (SPD) Chief Joe Aikens and department was unable to participate during the day in demonstrations – citing lack of available duty officers to utilize amid a department shortage.
Sutherland read an email from Chief Aikens to the board regarding the decision to decline the invitation to put on a demonstration for the fair. Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) and CCSO will both be at the fair putting on demonstrations throughout the day. Chief Aikens cited the city and surrounding community needing law enforcement available in case of emergencies or public assistance needs.
As detailed in an earlier Sun-Telegraph story, Tony Balandran will be hosting a CPR class, which is rapidly filling, in the morning from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
During the day Gordy Wilkins will have a Cowboy Coffee Chuck Wagon during the various different events.
Outlaws Catering Owner Shawn Kruse explained how he is setting up the Veteran, Military, Law Enforcement and First Responders Appreciation dinner.
The board held a brief discussion with the various volunteers regarding questions the fair board received about the appreciation dinner. According to the board secretary, the board received a number of questions asking if the appreciation dinner included spouses and children also.
The board discussed the concerns of some regarding making the dinner only available for those in uniform or who were formerly in uniform.
Members of the public, who were also volunteers for the day and either veterans or veteran spouses spoke up and explained they did not feel an appreciation dinner was meant for anyone who had not put on a uniform. A couple of commentators explained how other organizations offer veterans, military and law enforcement members discounts – some of which do not extend to family members.
After a discussion between the board and various members of the community present, the groups decided to keep the appreciation dinner to just those who wore the uniform or still wear a uniform and stated spouses and children could get food from the number of vendors who will be present and open during the event.
The Lodgepole American Legion is helping Kruse and Sutherland in preparing the leftovers to be taken to veterans or first responders who aren't mobile enough, or otherwise unable to attend, and to help fund the event. The dinner will be served from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. inside the 4H building.
Outlaw Catering told board members they will be providing between 300 to 400 meals consisting of a full meal with meat, beans and other fixings.
Freedom Yurt Cabins Haellie Houser and Larry Nelson, will provide various military uniforms for Wednesday only, from the military uniform museum. The Museum will be available and open for visitors from 9 a.m. until the dinner in the evening concludes.
NSP Officer Brandon Smith is scheduled to hold a collaborative demonstration, pending final approal and scheduling availability.
Wilkins explained to the board that Cheyenne, Wyoming Veterans Affairs (VA) Representative Kerri Puckett would have a booth at the fair – in the stream of foot traffic, where the VA could promote the Veterans Crisis line and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as discussed in an earlier edition of the Sun-Telegraph. One of the items the VA hopes to promote and get more awareness to the community about is the Veterans Crisis Line – 988, option 1 – for veterans in crisis. This line, which can be utilized by veteran family members and spouses, helps locate and help veterans in crisis, and has individuals trained in deescalation protocols and will connect the veteran or family with local law enforcement also specially trained.
Sutherland explained to board members at least one military member from each of the five branches of military will be available and require a table for the purposes of recruitment. An Army (National Guard), Army (Regular), Marine Corp, Air Force and Navy recruiters will be present at booths to discuss various recruitment opportunities and to answer service-related questions.
Pending the finalization of and other outside variations relating to the Mounted Color Guard – the fair is tentatively scheduling a morning color guard and evening color guard from Fort Riley.
A number of volunteer fire departments were not present and couldn't give an update regarding the activities they are planning to do during the appreciation day at the fair. The board is awaiting an update from Gurley Volunteer Fire Department (GVFD) and Dalton Volunteer Fire Department (DVFD), Lodgepole Volunteer Fire Department (LVFD). However, Potter Volunteer Fire Department (PVFD) Mark Onstott spoke on the behalf of his department and Sidney Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) Matt Butts regarding a collaborative event the two departments will host involving the water truck. However, Onstott told board members there is a possibility the truck will not be able to use the water and hose down kids and fair goers due to a potentially heightened fire season.
Region 21 Director Ron Leal informed fair board members will have the CERT trailer by the CCSO command one truck to demonstrate what Region 21 and CERT do for the community. He also stated that due to the lack of manpower there will not be a demonstration available.
Lastly, Sutherland explained the Adopt a Dog Animal Rescue will be available on-site from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. She further explained each animal will be labeled by temperament, behavior and suitable life – such as service, pet or farm use.
The board hosted its first regularly scheduled fair board meeting on Monday, July 10, a future Sun-Telegraph story will highlight that board meeting in a future edition.