Saddle up for a historic Independence Day weekend

The view from Goodland's Ferris wheel at Sherman County Fairgrounds.

The view from Goodland’s Ferris wheel at Freedom Fest on Independence Day at Sherman County Fairgrounds.

Turn back the hands of time during a long Independence Day weekend in Sherman County. The weekend features reenactments of historic Sherman County events and the traditional fireworks show.

Lt. Lyman Kidder, his guide Red Bead and 10 soldiers all died in battle with Native Americans in July 1867. Cattle and cowboys from Texas trod the Wallace Branch of the Great Western Cattle Trail from 1883-1886. Experience both early-day Sherman County events during Independence Day 2017, plus enjoy a watermelon feed, carnival rides, a concert and fireworks on July 4.

“We are excited to have such a slate of unique events in Sherman County during this extended July 4th weekend,” Sherman County Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Donna Price said. “We hope many people from Sherman County and out of town visitors will come and enjoy the events and activities that will be taking place. It will be both a fun and educational few days.”

Great Western Cattle Drive is always held on Independence Day Weekend.

Cowboys drive longhorns at Homestead Ranch at the first Commemorative Great Western Cattle Drive.

Great Western Cattle Drive: Cowboys and longhorns ride again

Release your inner cowboy at the Third Annual Great Western Cattle Drive July 1. The reenactment drive begins at 10 a.m. MDT at Homestead Ranch. The ranch is along the original Wallace Branch of the cattle trail. The ranch is the site of Bray Post Office, the first opportunity cowboys had to send and receive mail since they had left Dodge City. Bray Post Office was Sherman County’s first post office.

Cattle drive map

Cattle drive map

Drive five miles east of Goodland’s Exit 19 or Edson’s Exit 27 to Sherman County Road 25. Turn north and drive approximately 12 miles to the cattle drive site. Follow the signs.

Lt. Lyman Kidder

Lt. Lyman Kidder

Lt. Kidder’s Ride to Disaster: A cavalry reenactment

The Kidder Massacre is Sherman County’s first recorded event. On July 1, 1867, Lt. Lyman Kidder, his guide Red Bead and 10 soldiers left Fort Sedgwick, Colo., with dispatches for Lt. Col. George Custer. They were never seen alive by their compatriots again. When Custer learned of their mission, he searched for the party. He found their bodies July 11, 1867. The battle in which the soldiers and their guide lost their lives is believed to have occurred July 3, 1867.

Release your inner cavalry trooper on July 3. Join the Sherman County Historical Society and High Plains Museum to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the massacre July 3. The commemorative events begin at 2 p.m. MDT at the museum, 1717 Cherry in Goodland. Local historian Doug Whitson has collected many artifacts around the massacre site. He will give a presentation on those artifacts. Tea and cookies will be provided after Whitson’s presentation.

Directions to Kidder Massacre site

Directions to Kidder Massacre site

At 3:30 p.m., a caravan will leave the museum for the Kidder Massacre site. Arriving at the site at 4 p.m., Whitson will explain the sequence of events at the massacre site. Be prepared to walk up hills to the various battlefield locations. Dr. Jake Bauer of Oakley and others are reenacting the Kidder party’s ride from Fort Sedgwick, near Julesburg, Colo. At some point during the presentation, the riders will arrive. A question and answer session will follow Whitson’s presentation.

Riding the Tilt-A-Whirl

Whirl around Sherman County’s home-owned carnival at Freedom Fest.

Freedom Fest: Take a slice of Americana on Independence Day

Release your inner child at Freedom Fest. Head for Sherman County Fairgrounds on North Main in Goodland. At 6 p.m. MDT, Goodland Kiwanis Club’s concession stand opens and Goodland Rotary Club’s watermelon feed begins. Buy a $10 wristband to ride carnival rides all evening. Country Gold will play beginning at 7 p.m. At 8:30 p.m., the grandstand gates open. Watch the best fireworks show from Denver to Hays at 9:45.

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