Pageant will donate $25K to flood relief |

Pageant will donate $25K to flood relief

This year’s Legend of Rawhide pageant is helping Niobrara County residents circle the wagons against a tide of red ink.

Flooding June 4 damaged farms and ranches, homes, businesses and other structures in the eastern Wyoming community. Lusk and Manville were hit particularly hard.

The county was recently declared a disaster area eligible for federal assistance. But typical of the can-do spirit of this least populated of Cowboy State counties, locals didn’t wait for outside help.

When pageant officials met, they decided to donate proceeds of the annual event to flood victims.

“We do this every year to bring our community together and for the non-profit to help raise money,” says Twila Barnette, pageant coordinator. “This year, we decided that all the profits, outside of our standing commitments, would go to flood victims.”

An estimated $20,000-25,000 will be disbursed to those in need, Barnette says. Assistance may be applied for, and people can nominate recipients as well.

The well-attended drama which brings to life a 1946 script played to capacity July 10-11 at the county fairgrounds. Auctions, raffles, calcuttas and dances also raised funds.

Barnette said a planning meeting after the flood was upbeat. Cancelling the pageant was discussed because of all the work the community had at hand.

“We decided to forge ahead,” she says.

People involved in producing the event were flood victims themselves. Board president Ron Nelson, lost his home. Barnette and others are business owners whose shops were damaged. “We have board members who are firefighters who were out rescuing people the night of the flood,” she says. “We all felt the impact of the flooding in some personal way.”

Support in the region for the legend weekend appears to have made it all worthwhile.

The all-volunteer cast and crew from Niobrara and surrounding counties was extra stout – 500 people, up from an average of 300. The event sold approximately 600 tickets, which may be a record, organizers say.

The Legend of Rawhide has made numerous contributions to the community over the past 50 years. The script for the performance is based on old stories, passed down from generation to generation.

The annual celebration includes a wagon pulling contest, parade, craft and car show, and a flag ceremony.

Lusk is located on the eastern edge of the state at the junction of Highways 85 and 20. It is the county seat and largest population center of Niobrara. F