Planning a Family Reunion from afar

Along with my interest in Genealogy I have a desire to plan family reunions.  I have always been a planner.  I go through each step in my head dozens of time, mentally checking off lists.

I have started planning a family reunion for my Tracy-Rusler family.  The reunion will be next summer in York County, Nebraska.  First on the agenda was setting dates.  The previous two reunions were held over July 4th weekend.  Next summer July 4th is on a Wednesday so we are scheduling the reunion for the weekend before.  For resource I am using the book, “A Family Affair” by Sandra Maclean Clunies, CG.  I am also using the website,  I also recently received a box of previous reunion information from one of my second cousins.  I am in the process of going through all the addresses and trying to update them and add more.

The next important item on the list is venue location.  This is a more difficult problem.  The first reunion was held at the York County Fairgrounds which was great.  The building we used was big enough for everyone to be comfortably seated but there was also outdoor areas for the kids to play safely.  There was even an area for tents which we used with great joy.  Another thing that made this a great venue was the ease of access.  It was in York which is at the junction of I-80 and Hwy 81.  No gravel road directions needed.  The last reunion was at the community center in Waco, Nebraska.  The community center was a good size but the outdoor play area was a block away near train tracks (and the trains are super fast in this part of the country).  There was also no room for outside games like croquet or horseshoes.   So ideally I am looking for a venue in York (or in a town nearby with easy access) with a good size building that also has a good outdoor area that is safe for kids.  The biggest problem is I live six hours south of York.  Several relatives have been helpful about calling on places and giving me their feedback.  The place that sparks my interest is Wessel’s Living History Farms.  First, it is right off the highway – easy access.  Second, there is an outside area for games – they even provide the games.  Third, there are a couple of inside areas for tables.  Fourth – the owner will set up and clean as part of the cost of renting.  On a personal level I like the idea because of the early 1900’s atmosphere.  I also like that people flying in from out of state who have never been to Nebraska won’t have a hard time finding it and the nearby hotels.  On the downside, there is no kitchen and at this point I am not sure about the restroom facilities.  I have a plan to get around the kitchen problem (I am a planner) but using port-a-potties would not be cool!  There are a few other ideas we are working on; like a community center in another nearby town, but I don’t have any information on these yet. Even a church fellowship hall could possibly work.

Once I get the dates and venue locked in I can move ahead with the rest of my plans.  After updating addresses I will work on a budget, send out “save the date” announcements, work on food plans, schedule, games, entertainment,  displays, prizes, etc…  O, and might I add I am hoping to talk some other family members into heading up some of these areas.  Volunteers are always needed!

Food: If we end up somewhere without a kitchen or maybe even if we have one here is a tentative plan:

  • Friday Night – appetizers
  • Saturday Breakfast – People eat at their hotel or in town
  • Saturday Lunch – Sandwich bar?  Or perhaps a BBQ
  • Saturday Night – Eat in Town (or maybe the BBQ then)
  • Sunday Breakfast – People eat at their hotel or in town
  • Sunday Lunch – Potluck at church then disperse
This plan would require the least amount of preparation and would be fairly inexpensive.

Games: Croquet and horseshoes set up for Saturday.  Perhaps also three legged races, wheel barrow races, potato sack races, stilts, hoola hoops, jump ropes, kickball.  Checkers and cards inside.

Entertainment: Friday night I think should be like an ice breaker, mingle time.  Appetizers and maybe DJ music.  Register, find yourself on the tree, say hi to family, look at displays, etc…  Saturday will be full of games and talking and looking at displays.  I would like to have slideshows and home movies running if we have some.  Saturday night will be emceed by Mary Elizabeth Tracy.  I was thinking it would be great to have a Talent type show if we can get some entrants.  Family singing, dancing, instruments, jokes, acting.  Maybe some arts and crafts showing, etc.  This will also be the time when prizes will be given for categories like who came the farthest, who is the oldest, who has the most kids, grandkids, who has 4 generations there, etc…  I think there might even be a quilt raffle again.  Sunday Morning I really think it would be nice if those that wanted to would go to church at the old Council Church (where the family cemetery is) and then have a potluck there and visit the cemetery.  I do not know if this church is still active or if perhaps we will have to get our own preacher but I think it would be really cool and bring back a lot of good memories for many of us.  After the potluck the reunion would be over.

Displays: Oh my!  This is where my brain goes into overdrive.  I have so many stories and pictures I want to tell.  And I want everyone else to bring their family relics and stories and pictures and share.  I will try to have a laser copier there for those that will allow copying of their stuff.  The York County Historical Society has a display of the Bradshaw Tornado of 1918 that started on the Tracy Farm.  I want to have a display of Grandma Mabel’s teaching years, another of the Tracy Farm with survey plats, land records, pictures, etc…  Also a display/story about the Cottonwood tree and about the accidental death of Baby Ray.  Hopefully Mary Richard can bring the letter that Ray’s mother wrote to her sister about this.  Maybe a display about the airplanes my grandpa Leo flew.  And of course a large wall tree with everybody’s name and how they are related.  I am hoping I can get other family members excited about this and willing to put together their own displays about things in our history.

Prizes:  For prizes I am thinking the usual; ribbons, gift certificates, t-shirts, ball caps, etc…  But I am also thinking; framed photos of ancestors and/or farm pictures.  Maybe a nice family tree framed.  And I have some ideas for gift baskets.

Oh!  And I think this would be the perfect opportunity to have a photographer (hopefully a family member) there to take those precious family photos.  4 Generations, grandparents with all their grandkids, cousins, etc…  Plus some other photographers just snapping shots of all the action!

Am I missing anything?  Anybody else have some ideas?  Feedback would be much appreciated.  Someday I would love to do this for a job!  That is if I don’t fall flat on my face my first time out.


About Rosanna Ward

Rosanna is a devoted mother of four children, two of which are homeschool graduates. She currently homeschools her 11 and 6 year old sons. Rosanna is a homeschool graduate and a graduate of Oral Roberts University: She grew up in Tulsa and has been homeschooling here for the past eleven years. Rosanna has loved family history for as long as she can remember and love genealogy for the stories of her ancestors.
This entry was posted in Organization, Tracy Family Research and Stories and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Planning a Family Reunion from afar

  1. Sp21 says:

    I live in nearby Waco. I have offered to help. I will be leaving for my home in AZ on the 24th of Oct. I will be back to my Nebraska home April 15th, 2012.

    Ivan C Tracy

  2. Rosanna Ward says:

    I know and I am definitely counting on your help. 🙂 Did you get my message on FB awhile back about my ideas? Basically what I put in this blog. But I was hoping you would head up an area maybe with the help of you branch of the family. Do you think a Talent show will get enough entrants?

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