Special Events On Tap Through Year-End At Homestead National Monument of America

Fiddlin', dancin', and American history will be on display through year's end with special programs at Homestead National Monument of America.

From November 25 through New Year's Eve you'll be able to take in sparkling decorations from many countries showcasing ethnic traditions at both the Education Center and Heritage Centers at the national monument in Beatrice, Nebraska.

The Winter Festival of Prairie Cultures celebrates the winter traditions of people who lived on the Great Plains during the homesteading era. Decorated trees and tabletop displays feature ornaments and hand-made crafts that reflect the spirit of hope, humor, traditions, and generosity which characterized settlers of the West.

"The Homestead Act of 1862 had a global impact. Many of the ethnic groups represented during the Winter Festival came to America with traditions inherited from their homelands," says Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler. "We hope that families and individuals visiting Homestead during the holiday season will learn something new about the many winter celebrations that take place throughout the world."

Cultures represented include Czech, French, German, Hispanic, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Scottish, Swedish, and Welsh.

In addition to the displays, there will be special programs presented on November 27, December 4th, and 11th. These programs include:

November 27 Lori McAlister 2 p.m. (Education Center) Lori, a folklorist, will be giving a presentation about Scottish immigrants and the traditions they brought to America. Come along for a visit to a Scots homestead and learn about the tradition of first-footing and Hogmanay, and join in a little Scottish country dancing, if you fancy. Lori McAlister will be sharing a bit of custom, costume and lore along with a couple of the Lincoln Scottish Country Dancers.

December 4 "Irish Christmas in America" 2 p.m. (Education Center)This family-friendly performance features evocatively-sung Irish ballads and holiday carols, lively tunes on fiddle and accordion, along with thrilling Irish old-style dance. Ancient customs and stories are brought to life, while evocative photographic images provide a backdrop of rich historical context. Take a memorable glimpse into the enchanting spirit of Christmas, as some of Ireland's finest traditional artists bring you on a distinctively Irish journey during the holiday season of 2011.

December 11 David Boye 2-3 p.m. (Education Center) David Boye, a guitar instructor at Doane College, Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall of Fame participant and professional musician, will give a program entitled, "Cultural Contributions to Music, Then and Now." Boye will examine the music heritage brought by European settlers of the American West, and will also talk about how these ethnic influences are still heard in music today.

December 11 Tim McNeese 3 p.m. (Education Center) Tim McNeese, author and associate professor of history at York College, will be giving a program entitled, "The 1862 Homestead Act: What it Did, What it did not do, and Why it is Important?" He will discuss government support of citizens through free land and land purchase. Following the program McNeese will have available several of his books, also providing a signing.

Homestead National Monument of America also is working on an exciting schedule of events for the 150th anniversary of the Homestead Act in 2012.