Oregon Trail Days Parade Celebrates 101 Years | Local
As throngs of cheering onlookers lined the street, the sirens of Gering’s police cars answered their cheers. The 2022 Oregon Trail Days Parade in downtown Gering kicked off Saturday’s festivities. It attracted thousands of people to watch the various floats.
“We’ve heard about it all our lives. Our families are from here so we come every year,” said Tammy Koob of Cheyenne.
She attended the parade with her husband, daughter and granddaughters. She brought her children when they were younger and now they bring their own children.
Koob said she enjoyed the vehicles featured in the parade.
“They added farmers, construction (vehicles) and racing cars. Disappointed they didn’t have sheep and longhorn cattle like last year but that was fine,” she added.
Dozens of local businesses and organizations sponsored floats. Spectators cheered as marching bands, class reunions, cheerleaders and political candidates marched or waved at them from floats. In between are waves of loaders, fire trucks, tractors and racing cars.
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Many of the parade spectators were locals, who came to cheer on their friends and family and be part of this community spectacle.
“I have my wife, a couple of my kids, and I have my dad with me,” said Sgt. Phil Eckerberg of the Scottsbluff Police Department, and a Gering resident, told the Star-Herald. “It’s an annual tradition for us. I’ve been here for over 50 years to watch this Oregon Trail Days parade.
He said he enjoyed seeing the fire trucks and emergency vehicles.
“I also like bands,” Eckerberg said. “I miss the good old days, we used to have bands from Cheyenne and Scottsbluff and all over coming to march in this parade, but now it’s just Gering’s two bands left.”
The Eckerberg family had attended the concert, food festival and children’s parade earlier in the week. They had planned to visit the craft fair and the carnival after the main parade.
“It’s a long tradition. obviously, this is the 101st interpretation of this particular event. I think it’s good,” Eckerberg said. “It gives people a reason to come home. When I was in the military, I always planned my starts around Oregon Trail Days. You come here, you see people you haven’t seen in a long time, maybe people who have moved away…a lot of people come home for this event and that’s my favorite part.
Among those who came specifically to the parade, Eckerberg said, was his daughter. She flew in from Alaska to be part of the Gering High School class birthday float of 2012.
Spectator Corina Hernandez de Gering agreed with Eckerberg’s sentiment, saying the parade is a draw for people who have moved away from the area to return. She regularly attends the festivities and says it is a good event for the community.
“All of these events, the craft shows, the food court, the rides, the people gathering…they always come back for Oregon Trail Days,” she said. “They can get away from here, but they always come back. All of our friends and family get together and it’s just nice to see everyone here. An event is holding us back until next year.
However, it was not just the parade that took place in downtown Gering. On Saturday, several dozen food, arts and crafts vendors participated in a craft fair at Legion Park, a few blocks from the parade route.
Debbie Eutsler of D&L Handyworks has been selling wood and sewing crafts at the fair for about a decade.
“It’s kind of nice to see customers coming back year after year…the people are just nice and it’s a nice neighborhood,” Eutsler said.
Sydni Closson chatted with customers at her specialty 3 Dirty Boys candle stand. She said Saturday’s event was going well, especially compared to her first appearance at the fair.
“The first year was actually the summer of COVID, so it was much better than that first summer. (It was) a bit difficult,” she said.
This year has seen more activity, Closson said, with more customers and more suppliers to talk to.
Closson sold special bags containing various items made especially for the craft fair. This was his third year at the event; she said her organizers were easy to work with.
“I’ve always loved Oregon Trail Days because there’s so much to do and it brings so many people here,” she added.
Even new attendees to the craft fair enjoyed what they experienced. Krystal Patterson sold her Obeastus Beads jewelry and accessories at the fair on Saturday after hearing about the event last year.
“I like everything, really,” Patterson said. “…It was just nice to get together, meet other vendors, and grow as a craft fair community.”
PHOTOS: 2022 Oregon Trail Days Parade and Craft Show