All bases of wine production, procurement, and enjoyment are covered at the Great Dakota Wine Fest. Guests can practice age-old winemaking techniques by hopping into a barrel and stomping grapes or by stabbing each one with an empty quill. Then, upon entering the wine tasting room, they can grab a wine glass emblazoned with the Great Dakota Wine Fest logo and begin testing pours from various South Dakota winemakers, all while live performances from various musicians add melodious din to the spirited sipping and schmoozing.
Trent Meyer and Derek Bergman are committed members of the United Methodist Church, and sometimes choose to practice their faith through tree climbing, zip lining, swimming, and laser tag. They direct the Methodist-run Camp Fontanelle, a year-round outdoor camp sprawled across more than 180 wooded acres of donated land. Both Trent and Derek draw from backgrounds as campers—and Trent from six years as a teacher—to lead summer camps for preschool through high-school students. They lead a team of camp counselors who coordinate harnessed-rope tree climbing, activities on low-ropes courses, archery lessons, and outdoor laser-tag matches.
They also draw visitors at different times of year with water slides, a 35'x65' jumping pillow and bounce houses, a petting barn filled with alpacas and goats, and pony rides. During the autumn-harvest season, they unveil the annual theme of a 10-acre corn maze filled with 5 miles of trails. A 3-acre pumpkin patch contains small and large carving pumpkins, gourds, mums, and Indian corn, which visitors can harvest and stuff into a large, horn-shaped wicker basket.
In 2000, a group of farmers decided to diversify their crop production by planting twirling wine grapes into the rolling Midwestern hills. The initial smattering of vines quickly grew into a 4-acre vineyard and led to the launch of Silver Hills Vineyards & Winery, a small operation intent on crafting 100% Nebraska wines. The vintners’ Midwestern pride can be seen in their choice of ingredients—all wines are made with fruit grown at local vineyards and tattooed with the state motto—as well as their choice of decor: the outdoor tasting deck is shaped like Nebraska.
Silver Hills produces red, white, rosé, and berry wines, which visitors can sample during the vineyards’ limited hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Bottle labels display woodcuts by John Schirmer, a resident of neighboring Iowa who has carved wood professionally for more than 35 years.
Named for the terroir in which its grapes flourish, Glacial Till Vineyard's rocky mineral-rich soil is home to nine varieties of French-American red and white grapes that grow ripe on the vine across gently sloping hills. Those grapes are crushed, pressed, and eventually transformed into handcrafted wines, including a smooth and dry Chambourcin; the semisweet and fruity Edelweiss; and the bright, springy Frontenac Rose. At the beautiful off-site tasting room, visitors can take a seat at a caf? table or along the bar to enjoy sips of all of Glacial Till's wines, which can also be ordered by the glass or bottle.
In the days before kegs and bottles, beer enthusiasts would have to cart a bucket to their local brewery, fill it up, and carry it (gently) home. Lucky Bucket Brewing Company pays tribute to brewing history both in its name and its traditional brewing techniques.
Lucky Bucket’s flavorsome creations are crafted inside an 18,000-square-foot brew house. Gleaming silver tankards give birth to bottles of a pre-Prohibition-style lager, a pleasantly floral IPA, and the dark, malty imperial porter Certified Evil.
The facility operates a craft brewery, as well as Nebraska's only craft distillery, which turns out hand-crafted spirits such as Cut Spike Single-Malt Whiskey and Cut Spike Premium Vodka. The distillery ages it's whiskey for two years in brand new American oak barrels.
When a major flood hit the Missouri River in 2011, it drastically changed the riverfront, creating new sights across its banks. With this fresh face, the river serves as a scenic stage for tours on the River City Star, a riverboat featured in USA Today's August 2009 article ?10 Great Places to Stream Through Cities?.
At the wheel of a classic, double-decker riverboat is one of River City Star's three captains, Captain Ken, Captain Dave, or Captain Steve. Accompanied by an expert crew, the captains ferry passengers over the serene waters that make up Omaha's riverfront. They pass by antique structures such as the historic Old Iowa-Nebraska Swing Bridge, and newer fixtures including the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge, described in USA Today as ?a one-of-a-kind design that looks like an art installation across the river.?
On dinner cruises, cooks prepare a lineup of cuisine that changes monthly, as passengers dance to the sounds of live jazz or island music. Back on land, weddings unfold beneath a 40'x80' tent set up at Miller's Landing.