NEBRASKAland December 2017

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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62 NEBRASKAland • DECEMBER 2017 S ome traditions are passed down, while others are picked up by circumstance. Since photographing for NEBRASKAland, Winterfest at Ponca State Park has turned from work to an annual after-Christmas outing for my husband and me: flying fruitcakes, cozy campfires, spicy wassail, a fun yule log race and woodland sprites complete with fairy dust … When the yule log is found, listen for sleigh bells ringing. You'll hear local volunteer Brad Conrad and his Gypsy Vanner horse coming down the snowy lane. The yule log is delivered and all teams gather around a crackling campfire. The winners saw off disks from the log and add them to the blaze. Our sprite recites a winter blessing, and while all stand to listen by the warmth of nature's "hearth," Ponca State Park truly becomes a winter wonderland. Looking back at several years of photos, I see many repeat faces. Winterfest has become a holiday tradition for many other families, too. Make it yours this year on Dec. 30. Jenny Nguyen-Wheatley Oct. 31, 2017 Winterfest

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