Nebraska Tourism has updated the kick-off date of the 2020 Nebraska Passport Program to June 1, 2020.

The Passport Program entices Nebraskans, and others, to travel the state in order to visit and support tourist destinations throughout Nebraska, collecting stamps on their passports in order to earn some very nice prizes. The Passport Program generated over $23.7 million in traveler spending in 2019.

York County is pleased to have two exceptional stops on this year’s program: Chance’s ‘R’ Restaurant and Lounge in York and the Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park. Both are both very deserving of this honor, and while it is a first for Chances ‘R’, it is a third mention for Henderson. Congratulations to both!

I am also excited to see that Mac’s Drive-In in McCook also made the list. Well-deserved, McCarty Family . . . keep up the good work and the pizza burgers coming!

Travelers entered in the Passport Program will have from June 1 through Oct. 31 to pay a visit to the attractions and collect their stamps. If necessary, because of the rapidly changing nature of COVID-19, the new beginning and end dates will be subject to further change. Please check NebraskaPassport.com for any additional updates before starting your Passport travels.

Free copies of the 2020 Passport Programs will be available at the York County Visitors Bureau Office and at Chances ‘R’ and Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park.

The Yorkfest Royalty will have a little different look this fall. Nominations are being accepted from ANY communities in York County, especially with this being the 150th celebration of York County. Criteria for nominations include:

•A resident of York County for at least five years

•Be at least 45 years old

•Have a proven record of volunteerism and/or work performance

•Be available for the Yorkfest coronation/weekend (Friday, Sept. 11 to Sunday, Sept. 13)

We encourage service and community organizations, volunteer groups and the general public to consider nominating an individual or individuals who represent your York County group, organization or community with distinction. We want to hear from all of you across the county!

Nomination forms are available at the York Chamber of Commerce and the York County Visitors Bureau office on May 20, which must be returned by and/or postmarked with a date no later than June 15 to the Chamber office.

Announcement and coronation of the new 2021 Yorkfest Royalty will return to a noon luncheon at the York Country Club on Friday, Septe. 11, and the names will be kept secret until the announcement by this year’s King and Queen.

After almost a month of having our front doors locked and relying on doorbells and pre-arranged appointments to enter our offices, it’s a wonderful feeling to now allow walk-ins through the doors. We all very carefully observe the social distancing rule and stringent cleaning and sanitizing wipe-downs after our visitors have left the building, and before anyone else has come in. We all have our own masks and gloves if the need arises.

I am so happy that those in the hair care businesses have been allowed to re-open. I was sporting an almost four-month growth that reminded me of college days at UNL/Kearney and my “shag” cut, which was very popular at the time. Another month, and I might have been able to manage an inch-long ponytail in the back! Having one’s haircut while wearing a mask was an interesting challenge, especially with the sideburns and goatee. We mutually agreed to not even attempt to trim the goatee up . . . that was the least of my concerns.

Social distancing has also led to the perfect time to finish the planting of my gardens. The only things I am really waiting on are the specialty tomatoes that I carefully order each spring from Burpee, Gurney and All Things Tomatoes. They should be here any day, and I am anxious to get them in the ground next week. Even the pumpkins are planted and waiting on some warmer days and rain to sprout.

I never cease to be amazed at the many various gardening techniques employed by everyone who is attempting a garden. There are those with tarps, with holes cut in them wherever a plant is stuck in the ground, which is ok, but it needs to be staked down, or covered with something heavy so that the wind doesn’t take it sailing. Some plant bigger stuff six inches apart, some plant several feet apart. Some use buckets with bottoms cut out, some use chicken wire fencing, some use livestock panels and some use nothing except the bare ground provided. Me . . . I use grass clippings as mulch around my plants as soon as possible to cut down on weeding and hoeing, to keep the ground warm and hold the moisture in.

I’m not sharing what is planted where this year, so that the brazen, rotten #^&*$%^*$@** garden thieves are thwarted. Suffice it to say that there are now field cameras trained on all locations just so I can finally reveal the gnarly rear ends of the pesky produce pilferers! You’ll never find the cameras, so don’t bother to look.

Sister Susan has also ventured into the world of garden plot farming, so the race is now on to see who produces the first, and tastiest, tomato of the season. I think she has an edge as she may have purchased a plant that already had a little tomato on it.

The Pony Express Writers for Children’s Mental Health Awareness will be riding into York and Wessels Living History Farm on Friday, May 22 around 11 am. Forms for letters to be delivered to Governor Ricketts are available at the group’s Facebookpage: hhtps//ww.facebook.com/ponyexpressridechildrensmentalhealthawareness/. Letters will be picked up by riders going car to car, exercising DHM measures. Anyone with motorcycles who would like to join in the police-escorted parade through York is welcome to join in. The route starts at noon at Wessels Living History Farm, following U.S. Highway 81, merging onto Grant Avenue, traveling under the underpass and out on North Highway 81. Community members are invited to line the curbs while following the 6-foot social distancing guidelines. For more information you may contact Vicki at WesselsFarm@gmail.com or 402-710-0682.

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