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Greetings from Historic Red Cloud: Great Stories Grow Here! 

Set amid brick-lined streets, charming homes, historic buildings, and the immense beauty of the prairie, Red Cloud offers a glimpse into a storied American past while maintaining a progressive vision for the future. Great stories start in Red Cloud--add your own chapter today!

Red Cloud Community Fund showcases 6 downtown buildings undergoing renovation, details plans for 2 more

The Red Community Fund organized and hosted a “Downtown Revitalization Tour” in the community on Sunday, November 14th. The event showcased progress and plans for several downtown buildings, including the Hotel Garber site. More than 80 people attended the event, which kicked off in the afternoon at On the Brix and wrapped up in the same location.

The tour featured the following the buildings: 1) The Newhouse Building (416 N Webster, formerly Gary’s Barber Shop) owned by Todd & Lisa Mahin; 2) The Peterson Building (402 N Webster, formerly Red Cloud Hardware) owned by Dennis & Sally Hansen; 3) Cook’s City Pharmacy (406 N Webster, formerly Red Cloud Video, presently an empty lot) owned by Dennis & Sally Hansen; 4) The Potter Block (346 N Webster, formerly Brenda’s Shoppe, future site of the Hotel Garber) owned by the Red Cloud Hotel, LLC; 5) Farmers & Merchants Bank (338 N Webster), owned by Willa Cather Foundation; 6) The Albright Building (341 N Webster, presently H&R Block), owned by Brad & Andrea Frey; 7) The Kellogg Building (116 W. 4th Ave), owned by Amy Springer; 8) 345 Building (345 N Webster, presently The Corner Nook), owned by Amy Springer.

Guests were given a sneak peek at work already completed at each of the building sites and were thoroughly informed about future plans. Some of the highlights included the completed apartment above The Corner Nook, detailed plans about then Hansens’ planned 2nd floor apartment, the Hansens’ future plans for the presently empty lot at 406 N Webster, plans for new exhibits and ADA access to the Farmers & Merchants Bank, and a creative display of the Newhouse Building’s timeline by the Mahins. Additionally, guests were treated to snacks and refreshments at several of the locations, including Sally Hansen’s famous caramelized bacon. Tentative plans to do another tour in 6 months when more work is completed are already underway.


Donate to RCCF and help revitalize downtown Red Cloud!

Cultivating Red Cloud's philanthropic spirit 

Like many young Nebraskans, Willa Cather Foundation Executive Director Ashley Olson returned to her hometown to build a life in the community that raised her. She’s grateful to have found her place in Red Cloud, where she also serves on the Red Cloud Community Fund Advisory Committee.

Since her return, Olson has joined her neighbors in making Red Cloud shine brighter than ever. The community cultivates a collaborative spirit, exemplified by partnerships between The Willa Cather Foundation, city officials, RCCF, and the Chamber of Commerce. One such effort resulted in the hiring of a tourism director, Jarrod McCartney, who has furthered Red Cloud’s position as a cultural touchstone for Nebraska. Another group effort led to the 2018 opening of The Valley Child Development Center, a state-of-the-art early childhood education center. Local volunteers raised $2.2 million to make this ambitious dream a reality.

“Red Cloud residents really understand that in order to build and sustain our community, we as the people who live and work here every day have to be willing to support it charitably in order to build and sustain the type of place that people want to live and work and visit,” Olson said.

For Olson and McCartney, the transfer of wealth offers a test for Red Cloud’s philanthropic spirit – one that, if passed, could propel the community to greater heights.

“I saw it as a tremendous opportunity,” McCartney said when asked what he thought when he first learned the figures for Webster County. Through the next 10 years, the county is expected to see $350 transfer. Just 5% captured would inject nearly $18 million back into the community. McCartney, Olson, and their compatriots in Red Cloud know they can’t wait on government grants or angel investors to achieve their dreams – but they now know all the wealth they could ever use is right at home.

“What really will save our community is the community itself,” McCartney said.

This story was written and originally published by the Rural Radio Network and the Nebraska Community Foundation. Click on the "full story" link below for a podcast/audio story featuring McCartney and Olson on the Rural Radio Network which aired on KRVN and other outlets. 


Read the full Webster County transfer of wealth report

Local businesses light up Red Cloud during 13th Annual Shopping Extravaganza

The Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce hosted and organized its annual Shopping Extravaganza during the evening of Nov. 23rd. The event is traditionally held on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and signals the start of the Christmas shopping season in the community. 2021’s event was a huge success with perfect weather bringing out a large number of shoppers. Downtown Red Cloud was alive as buildings kept their lights on and their doors open for business well into the evening. The streets were packed with vehicles, vendors, and a horse drawn carriage. Deals on holiday gifts could be found throughout downtown as well as at Landmark Implement and Kenny’s Hardware & Home Center on the edges of the community.  Not only is the event a great way to kickoff the holiday season, it also encourages shopping locally—which is vital if we want build a vibrant and thriving community. Money spent at locally owned businesses tends to stay in the community and gets reinvested in multiple ways, including in supporting community programs and initiatives. Shopping locally also helps support the people we know and work with and helps them make the lives of their families and their community better. For those reasons and more, the Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce encourages you to shop locally year round.
Join or Support the Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce

How a 101-year-old linked to Willa Cather altered a small town's future

by Jarrod McCartney for the Flatwater Free Press 


It’s not unusual to catch sight of a celebrity in Red Cloud, population 962, especially during the annual Willa Cather conference that brings a mishmash of scholars, writers and lovers of the famed Nebraska novelist to town.

First Lady Laura Bush has appeared here. So has legendary writer Maya Angelou, Golden Globe-winning actor Paul Giamatti and a drumbeat of talk show hosts, TV stars, novelists and artists. But, at many conferences, a tiny, energetic, elderly woman would rise to her feet during a question-and-answer session and, for a few minutes, steal the celebrity spotlight while holding court about Nebraska’s most famous author.

Antonette Willa Skupa Turner — Toni, to her friends — lived most of her long life in Bladen, an even smaller town down the road. She died in August at age 101, still largely unknown outside her community and the small circle of Cather scholars.


This article was originally published by the Flatwater Free Press on Nov. 12, 2021. The Flatwater Free Press is Nebraska’s first independent, nonprofit newsroom focused on investigations and feature stories that matter.

Pictured above from L to R: Turner with Tracy Tucker and Ashley Olson from the Willa Cather Foundation. 

Pictured below: Back row, left to right at Thomas Skupa’s house after his funeral in 1926:
Christina Skupa, Julia Pavelka Skupa, Anna Sadilek Pavelka, John Skupa, Frank Skupa, John Skupa, Emma Skupa, Tommy Skupa, Clement Pavelka, Hazel Skupa, Johnny Skupa, Bessie Skupa Stolzenberg, Elizabeth Pavelka Boyd, Sylvia Skupa Kvasnicka. Front row: Francis Skupa, Marie Skupa, Antonette Skupa. 

From the Antonette Willa Skupa Turner Collection at the National Willa Cather Center in Red Cloud, Nebraska.

Donate to the Flatwater Free Press

Local businesses earn first dollars, utility rebate from the Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce 

The Red Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce awards a "first dollar of business" to businesses in their first year of operation. The Chamber also matches the City of Red Cloud's Utility Rebate program 50% up to $600. Typically, these businesses are recognized at the annual Farmers & Merchants Banquet, which was delayed this year due to COVID-19. Pictured above are recipients of these awards who were unable to attend the banquet. Pictured to the left with Chamber of Commerce Treasurer Adam Vetter is Todd Mahin in front of The M Guest House he owns and operates with wife Lisa. Mahin is receiving his utility rebate. In the upper right-hand corner with Vetter is Roy Montgomery from Montgomery Realty & Auction and in the bottom right-hand corner is Juan Gomez from Juan's Bar & Grill. Montgomery and Gomez both received their first dollar of business for opening up storefronts in Red Cloud recently. For additional award winners, including the 2020 Business of the Year, see our September newsletter which includes complete coverage of the 71st Farmers & Merchants Banquet. 

The 72nd Annual Farmers & Merchants Banquet will be held Friday, January 28th at the Red Cloud Community Center. Social hour will begin at 5:30pm and the Chamber is presently seeking donations for its silent auction. The silent auction helps fund most of the activities the Chamber hosts throughout the year, including Street Car Days and children's events at Easter, Christmas, and Halloween. The Chamber is particularly interested in donations of experiences, such as vacation packages, date night, self-care, sports tickets, and other memorabilia. They also welcome items in high demand locally.   

National Honor Society and Red Cloud Community Schools shatter goal set for food drive

The Red Cloud High School National Honor Society, with the help of the Digital Media class, delivered 1,038 items to the Red Cloud Food Pantry on Monday. Nov. 22nd. The preschool through 12th grade had two weeks to meet a goal of 800 items. They easily surpassed that goal, resulting in an additional day of Winter vacation. NHS students are pictured above in the United Methodist Church, where the Red Cloud Food Pantry is located. 

Red Cloud in the News
Highball: Jerry Lee Lewis Tribute
December 4, 2021
Young at Art: Caldecott Winner Exhibit
Dec. 15, 2021 to Jan. 19, 2022
Jumanji & Visit from Santa
December 18, 2021 
49 Minutes of Fame
Nov. 30 to Dec. 14, 2021
Leonard Marcus
December 16, 2021
Lemon Fresh Day
January 29, 2022 
Giving Tuesday
November 30, 2021
If you're thinking of participating in Giving Tuesday and love Red Cloud, we would encourage you to consider making a donation to the Red Cloud Community Fund, which is responsible for the publication of this newsletter. You can donate to RCCF online at the following website:

You can donate to Heritage Tourism Development, The Valley Child Development Center, or the Legacy Endowment in addition to our general fund via the online portal hosted by the Nebraska Community Foundation. NCF now accepts both credit and direct debit payments online--you can even set up a monthly or other form of recurring donation if you like! While they are not presently listed we also have accounts for the Hotel Garber and our Youth Philanthropy group. If you'd like to donate to either of those accounts, just say so in the comment field. 

If you'd prefer to give in person or via the mail, just drop off a check at Jarrod McCartney's office in the Cather Center or send a note to: RCCF, PO Box 263, Red Cloud, NE 68970,

We also encourage you to give to other Red Cloud non-profits, such as the Auld Public Library Foundation, the Webster County Community Hospital Foundation, the Willa Cather Foundation, and Webster County Senior Services. #redcloudproud

Want to learn more about RCCF? Check out this quick overview of what we've been up to and then please read our Year-End Letter and The Value of Heritage Tourism Report
View All Events

Matthew Hansen

Click here to listen to the the Riverside Chats with Tom Knoblauch podcast featuring Hansen
Above: Debbie Janzen recently opened the "Twisted Petal Too," at the former Riverwood Bakery/Lizzy's location in downtown Red Cloud. Janzen's "Twisted Petal" has been a big success in nearby Smith Center, KS. 

Below: New signage is up for Juan's Bar & Grill. The sign lights up at night and was designed by Heritage Tourism Development intern Cheyenne Knehans last summer. 

Have a great photo of Red Cloud from yesteryear or just a nice photo you think is worthy of publication? Don't hesitate to share it with us by sending an email to Thanks! 
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Copyright © *2021* *Red Cloud Tourism & Commerce*, All rights reserved.
*Volume 5.11 You are receiving this email because you opted in at our website.

Our mailing address is:
Red Cloud Tourism & Commerce
413 N. Webster St. 
Red Cloud, NE 68970 
Additional Photos: 
Rob Olsen, Jarrod McCartney, Flatwater Free Press, The National Willa Cather Center, Liz Rasser, Debbie Janzen, Giving Tuesday, Adam Vetter, and the Nebraska Community Foundation 


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