Old-fashioned spelling bee returns to Homestead

September 1, 2018 GMT

Homestead National Monument will rewind the clock this Labor Day with their 10th annual Old-Fashioned Spelling Bee at the Freeman School.

The yearly contest begins at 10 a.m. and is open to area students of all ages, with five different age sub-groups. Students will be participating for trophies sponsored by the Daily Sun.

“It’s really a fun event and fun activity,” said Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler. “Basically, we’re showcasing what happened in these country schools years ago.”

Words are selected from the Homesteading era, with many taken from the Eclectic Spelling Book published by McGuffey’s in 1879.

“I think it’s just fun to watch the youth and to see their minds working and to see them put these words together,” Engler said. “And as the program marches on, the words gets a little tougher. I think it’s really enjoyable to see the effort and the work that they put in.”


The public is invited to the attend the spelling bee, even if they don’t plan on participating in the event.

“We’re happy to be part of this annual event,” said Patrick Ethridge, editor and publisher of the Daily Sun. “Spelling is an integral part of reading and writing and something that we believe is vitally important to developing youth and expanding minds of all ages.”

Labor Day weekend is a busy time at Homestead, with a number of other activities slated for Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, Nebraskan poet Bob Bryan will recite his poetry inspired by agriculture at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the Homestead Education Center. Bryan is a farmer from the Unadilla area and a volunteer at the Lester F. Larsen Tractor Test and Power Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Various living history demonstrations will be on display throughout the park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Visitors are invited to watch and even try their hand at the making of cornhusk dolls, rag rugs, pioneers toys, in addition to candle-dipping, black-smithing, woodcarving, marble-making, painting, sock-making, butter-churning and more.

On Sunday, cars and trucks from the Homesteading era (anything up to the 1980s) will be on display at the Education Center, according to Engler. There are no registration fees to display a vehicle.

On Monday, Dr. Sylvie Shires, who holds a PhD in English from UNL, will present a brief overview of writing in the 19th century. There will be an opportunity to enjoy a hands-on experience with quills and dip pens.

“Labor Day weekend is always a fun weekend at Homestead,” Engler said. “People can enjoy the museum, hike the trails, bring a picnic and eat in our picnic area. There’s just a tremendous amount of the things within the park beyond these programs.”