Festival of Hope celebrates 20 years with auctions, activities to benefit cancer patients and families | Local


Geneviève Eirich selects a duck from a pool as part of a Festival of Hope activity as her mother Brittany (right) looks on.


The 20th annual Festival of Hope drew hundreds of people to the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds on Saturday in support of the fight against cancer.

Dr. Vince Bjorling, a recently retired oncologist, sits on the advisory board of the Festival of Hope. He said it has become a very personal event over the years.

“We were trying to figure out how to help cancer patients and their families with non-medical expenses, because we know that when people are going through cancer treatment, it’s a very stressful time for them financially,” he said. -he declares.

The Festival of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary

Children excitedly released painted butterfly ladies at the end of the Festival of Hope. This tradition is one of many that have been part of the festival since its inception in 2003.


Through fun races, auctions, bake sales and other activities, the Festival of Hope raises thousands of dollars each year to support these families in times of need.

“A lot of times, just paying for a car, paying for a utility … making sure they have groceries and things like that, becomes a really big thing,” Bjorling said. “…When you think about it in western Nebraska, everyone is either a family member, friend or neighbor (of someone who has been diagnosed with cancer) and that’s where everyone comes together and helps everyone Over the past 20 years, we have distributed nearly $3.3 million to patients and their families.

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The Festival of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary

Kara Plett photographs her children (lr) Kamryn, Clay and Kodee Plett as they pose in front of a selfie station during the Festival of Hope event on Saturday, June 18.


The money stays in the local area, helping cancer patients in the western Nebraska region. Sometimes cancer patients can pay it forward and donate to help other families who are going through the same challenges as theirs.

“It’s just a very good cause, it helps the patients a lot. I think it’s a really good way to support the community,” said Brittany Eirich, who has worked with Bjorling.

This year’s Festival of Hope started with a fun 5k and run for the kids early in the morning. The Knights of Columbus served breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Volunteers then served lunch for the duration of the festival.

The Festival of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary

The Festival of Hope featured both a live auction and a silent auction where guests could bid on various items and prize sets. The money is used to help families of cancer patients with non-medical expenses such as bills or groceries.


Kids and the young at heart could purchase tickets and participate in various booths and activities throughout the event. These included a skee ball, face paint and a bouncy castle. Many shirts, pastries and other items were also available for sale.

A silent auction with dozens of prizes provided another way for the Festival of Hope to raise funds. Local performers, including bands and dancers, entertained the crowd by bidding, eating or playing.

Several items or sets of items were also auctioned in a live auction.

The Festival of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary

Kids could have their faces painted, jump in a bouncy castle, try their hand at basketball and more at the Festival of Hope fundraiser in Mitchell on Saturday.


Prizes ranged from a cake or an armchair or a grill, to a hot air balloon ride for two, to 100 pounds of ground beef. A total of 14 prizes were auctioned live, with some selling for over $1,000.

Guests could purchase butterfly decals to honor either those diagnosed with cancer or in memory of those who died from it. The decals were displayed along the back wall of the fairgrounds event center. Towards the end of the program, the organizers read the long list of names on this wall of hope.

The Festival of Hope celebrates its 20th anniversary

Ryan Windhorst, Chairman of the Board of the Festival of Hope, poses with his family after winning a Hope Award on Saturday June 18.


Afterwards, children at the event gathered outside to help release dozens of painted lady butterflies alive. Butterflies scattered across the sky, though some needed extra encouragement.

Many of the activities featured at Saturday’s festival have been around since the event’s inception in 2003.

“We have been very blessed,” Bjorling said. “We live in a very giving community and people have really embraced that.”

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