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Small Town Big Dreams

Small Town Big Dreams

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"On my way East I broke my journey at Hastings, in Nebraska, and set off with an open buggy and a fairly good livery team to find the Cuzak farm. At a little past midday, I knew I must be nearing my destination. Set back on a swell of land at my right, I saw a wide farm-house, with a red barn and an ash grove, and cattle-yards in front that sloped down to the highroad." -- My Ántonia by Willa Cather

The Hastings/Adams County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hastings Museum of Natural and
Cultural History
, Webster County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Willa Cather Foundation,
and the Starke Round Barn have combined efforts to raise awareness and increase tourism in the
region of Adams and Webster counties of south central Nebraska.

During the late 1800s, this region was filled with excitement as families from the eastern United
States and from Europe traveled to pioneer this area. Two of the most famous people to emerge
from south central Nebraska were pioneers--Edwin Perkins, the inventor of Kool-Aid, and Willa
Cather, Pulitzer Prize-winning author. Each of these famed Nebraskans began from humble
beginnings before achieving worldwide acclaim. Both families lived on farms before moving to
town where their father's opened businesses. In Hastings, eleven-year-old Edwin's experimentation in his mother's kitchen led to the creation of one of the most famous soft drinks in the world; in Red Cloud, young Willa read books and wrote in her room and then went on to write twelve novels, numerous short stories, win the Pulitzer Prize, and become one of the world's greatest authors. Additionally, in 1902 the Conrad Starke family built what is now the largest round barn in existence just outside of Red Cloud.

This history is not only that of south central Nebraska, but also belongs to our nation. It is kept
alive due largely to the efforts of the Hastings Museum, the Willa Cather Foundation, and the
Starke Round Barn owners. Each are preserving and promoting the legacies of these remarkable

From watching movies and documentaries at the Lied Superscreen Theatre and the Red Cloud Opera House, viewing the stars on the Cather Prairie and the J.M. McDonald Planetarium, going back in time at the Starke Round Barn, Willa Cather childhood home, and the Hastings Museum, to stepping into the shoes of visionaries Edwin Perkins and Willa Cather, visitors will find an authentic and educational experience.