Tilden Prairie Days

Volunteers spend hours decorating storefronts and sidewalks each year for the event.

 

In late 2000, Georgia Wyatt, a local artist, and Dixie Kucera, then director of the Raymond A. Whitwer Tilden Public Library, collaborated to write a successful grant application through the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism for the library to host the Smithsonian exhibit, Listening to the Prairie-Farming in Nature's Image. Virginia Werkmeister also attended the exhibit workshop in Washington D.C. in March 2001. These three individuals became the "Prairie Committee" which began meeting in November 2003 to plan the acitvities that would help publicize the exhibit and draw attendees to the showing.

The committee was well aware that Tilden had been struggling to host a viable annual event. The exhibit offered the perfect theme of "Prairie Days" that fit the area's landscape well and provided something everyone could agree upon. With no existing community organization or Chamber of Commerce, the committee took the initiative to declare a citywide celebration during the showing of the exhibit.

The grant was used to help publicize both the exhibit and the local celebration. The Tilden Library Foundation agreed to provide the matching funds required for the grant, and the City of Tilden agreed to handle the funds if they were awarded. The grant process caused the committee to define the events and determine the best way to publicize them. The application was totally funded in the amount of $6,682.50 (including matching funds) to provide advertising with the intent that Prairie Days become an annual event. Thus, the first official Tilden Prairie Days event became a reality in the summer of 2004, receiving an Outstanding New Event award from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development's Travel and Tourism Division in November that same year.

Tilden Prairie Days continues in present day with activities for people of all ages. The event is held the last weekend in July each year, Friday through Sunday, and continues its focus on antiques and collectibles, as it did in its earliest beginning.