It seems only fitting that Lancaster’s 175th anniversary of its founding would begin with the Night on the Square, which for nearly two decades has been bringing the community together downtown.
Thursday, starting at 5 p.m., a series of local acts, including presentations from students of Gotta Dance Academy, 4-H performances, a traditional Hawaiian fire dance, and martial arts demonstrations. In addition, there will be several vendors selling food, a bounce house from Grant Regional Health Center, temporary tattoos for the kids, and other community displays.
Then at 7 p.m., the Madison-based band The Dang-Its will perform an evening of western swing, honky tonk and Americana songs. Concert attendees might hear classic Patsy Cline and Hank Williams one minute and an atmospheric rendition of Oh, Shenandoah or a fiery bluegrass song the next.
The band released their third independent recording, Daddy’s Cadillac, and added Nashville artist Jami Lampkins on vocals, guitar and banjo. Lampkins was among the finalists in USA Network’s “Nashville Star” competition. Band leader Tom Waselchuk (guitar, vocals) says, “Jami gave a real boost to our fortunes. She’s a great singer, of course, but she is also an amazing guitarist, banjo player and song writer. We’ve been having an awful lot of fun.”
Other members of The Dang-Its include Rick Nass, pedal steel guitar, Pete Olig, bass and vocals, and Mark Luhring, drums and vocals.
Before the headline performance, the Lancaster Community Fund will present their annual grant winners.
While the Night on the Square has been a long-standing tradition, adding the event to a weekend full of others added another level. “It’s more work, but Night on the Square is a staple event,” said Chamber Director Angie Donovan.
175th continues Friday, Saturday, Sunday
From Thursday, the celebration continues on Friday with both Deals and Steals Day, as well as a BBQ dinner and street dance.
“We have had more inquiries than any year in the past,” noted Donovan about individuals looking to take part in the Deals and Steals event. “There is going to be so many opportunities for people to find deals.”
Deals and Steals runs from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Then at 5 p.m., the community barbeque and street dance will commence at the Grant County Fairgrounds. Music emceed by Mark Evenstad will join the food. Proceeds from the event will go towards the Schreiner Memorial Library expansion project and the Lancaster Area Veterans Memorial.
On Saturday, things kick off with the Historic Tour of Homes from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (see story, page 2A). At the same time, a historic video will be shown at the Grantland Theatre that will show historic images of Lancaster. The program will be approximately 20 minutes long, and will run in a loop.
Then, at 6 p.m., the all-school celebration will begin at the Lancaster Country Club. It will be a time for those who attended Lancaster High School to recall those many years, staff and buildings that played a role in educating each generation of the community’s youth.
The event will be special for the Class of 1965, which is celebrating 65 this year.
On Sunday the observance continues with an ecumenical service held by the Lancaster Association of Churches, starting at 10 a.m. at Ryland Park.
An hour later, at 11 a.m., there will be tours at Hillside Cemetery spotlighting individuals from the Civil War. The program for the tours is compiled by Jon Angeli and will be presented by Kevin Koester and Deanna Seippel.