Attraction gives visitors chance to experience the Wild West

By LIZ MCCUE

The North Platte Telegraph

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - It’s not hard to see the excitement in Dusty Barner’s face when he starts talking about the new Wild West Town that will be set up for four days before the Buffalo Bill Rodeo starting June 17.

Barner was asked in February or March by Kelly Vap, a NEBRASKAland Days board member, if he had any ideas for an attraction during the rodeo.

“I started spitballing ideas,” Barner told The North Platte Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1GAtvAt ).

He threw out a zipline over the creek near his stables. Insurance wouldn’t touch it, he said. He thought of a climbing wall, but he knew he wanted to provide outdoor activities following the Nebraska western spirit of the rodeo and festival.

The Wild West Town, he said, is a totally new concept.

There will be 14, 16-by-20-foot structures along the “main street.” People will enter through the “bank,” where they can buy tickets for $4 and exchange cash for old-style wooden currency. There will be a building where people can dress up in period-style clothing for photos, and volunteers from Coldwell Banker will run a land office where people can pan for gold out front.

Other buildings will have antiques and tack, and people can visit the mortuary to see coffins and urns. Crafts can be done in several of the buildings.

“Everybody will be in character,” Barner said of all the volunteers in the buildings, who are dressing in pre-1900s-style clothing.

Tim Wilcox, a friend of Barner’s who also helped him draw out the designs for the town, will have face painting set up in one of the buildings.

Barner said getting the town up and running in just a few months wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his friends and family, who volunteered hours of their time, and his business partner, Lynae Tidyman.

Barner said he’s pretty excited for the shooting opportunities. Three of the structures will have targets where people can try archery, sharp shooting and a quick draw.

He will bring over some of his animals for the barn so visitors can pet goats and burros, ride the saddle horses and take a ride on a wagon around the town. Visitors can enjoy a cold sasparilla or eat some ``hog wild wings’’ and baked beans fresh from a Dutch oven at the saloon. They can also watch performances by the Rhinestone Roper three times each day, including trick roping, fast draw and knife throwing. There will also be ragtime piano tunes.

“I’m just looking forward to opening day, getting everybody in character,” Barner said.

He’s already looking ahead to events after NLD too. Barner said the buildings will be kept for use during the pumpkin patch at the Golden Spike Tower and hopefully for a Halloween ghost town at the Lincoln County Historical Museum.

Others have already approached him about using the structures for weddings or brandings, he said.

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