“Wow, what a surprise – we are honored and happy to again accept the award two years in a row,” said Sharon Hambek of the Seward Fourth of July Celebration Committee, as she accepted the Outstanding Festival in Nebraska award.

The award was presented at the 2016 Travel and Tourism Conference which was in Scottsbluff/Gering Oct. 18-20 for the community of Seward. Seward had captured the title last year at the Columbus Tourism Conference in 2015 and is rare that the judges repeat the award to a festival two years in a row.

The annual award was presented at the State Tourism Conference at the closing Governor’s Tourism Award luncheon and featured awards in a variety of categories and divisions in Nebraska tourism from Best Website to Outstanding Attractions to Best Tourism Promotions to the Outstanding Festival award.

Seward was recognized as the Top Festival in communities less than 10,000 population and Scottsbluff/Gering won the Festival award for its Balloon Festival in the large population category.

“The nomination process for the award and 100-plus page scrapbook was created and developed by Jean Kolterman, longtime member and promoter of the Seward Fourth of July Celebration,” Pat Coldiron, owner of Liberty House Bed and Breakfast in Seward, said. “We really appreciated the effort she made to make our presentation stand out-no one had a better selling tool to help make our July 4 Celebration again be honored. Thanks, Jean, for a job well done! She even had her son, Mark the Senator, deliver the scrapbook to the Tourism Office!”

“Indeed, Seward did have another great celebration this last year and with the new Nebraska National Guard Museum addition to the mix, it made the theme ‘Into the Wild Blue Yonder-Saluting a Century of Aviation in Nebraska’ a perfect partnership,” said Todd Kirschenbaum of the Seward County Chamber and Economic Development Partnership. “Now we are working hard to make it a three-peat, as our sesquicentennial celebration is shaping up to be a major happening in 2017 with the theme ‘Deep Roots-High Hopes’ honoring the 150th anniversary/birthday of Seward, Seward County and Nebraska! It will be big!”

“We just appreciate the partnership of so many individuals working together to make this community celebration work so well” longtime festival volunteer Clark Kolterman said. “We have really become noted for our patriotic spirit, for being the Red, White and Blue City with our grand July Fourth Festival.

“While we are pleased and honored with this very nice award and excited to be named the winner in this statewide competition two years in a row, we have really been a winner because of all of the benefits that our July Fourth celebration creates for us. Besides it is a fun event to stage and promote! It has become a very positive identity for our community, one Seward can point to with pride, and that identity lasts much longer than any award – but we will take the award too.”

Attending the annual tourism conference in Gering were Sharon Hambek and Pat Coldiron representing the Seward County Visitor’s Committee and the Seward Fourth of July Celebration Committee; Todd Kirshenbaum representing the Seward County Chamber and Development Partnership and an ad hoc member of the State Tourism Commission, serving as the state president for the Nebraska Travel Association (NTA).

Plans for a local celebration to present the award locally (since only a few could attend the Scottsbluff gathering) and a recognition event are in the works for a future date. The award will be on display at the Seward Civic Center.

The next Seward July Fourth Committee meeting is Thursday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. at the Seward Civic Center, and the meeting is open to the public.

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