The Nebraska Passport program will include stops at Homestead National Monument of America, Filley Stone Barn and Filley Tavern this year.
The tourism program includes 80 attractions throughout the state, fit into 10 themed tours. Travelers will have from May 1 through Sept. 30 to visit the destinations and collect stamps at each. This is the first year Filley has been included in the tour.
“I think it’s fabulous,” said Lesa Arterburn, director of Gage County Historical Society and Museum, which oversees Filley Stone Barn. “I’d like to get the museum on (the tour) hopefully next year. This is a great opportunity to put us on the map, so to speak.”
The historic barn was owned by Elijah Filley and built in 1874.
“The barn is a tribute to the earliest settlers in Gage County and they stayed after the grasshopper plague to build the barn,” Arterburn said. “It belongs to the people.”
Arterburn said the barn will not be open as the museum does not have the staffing abilities to do so, but visitors can take photos of the barn at any time of the year and information will be available in a box outside the barn during the months of the tour. Information will also be available at the Filley Tavern, where tourists can receive their stamp.
“Filley has its roots from the builder of the barn,” Arterburn said. “They tend to go together like bread and butter. One wouldn’t be there without the other.”
The program is paying special tribute to the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary this year with a tour called Find Your Park, including national, state and local parks in eight communities.
Find Your Park is a national campaign that includes national, state and local parks, Homestead Superintendent Mark Engler said.
“So we’re excited that this campaign is being carried forward with the Nebraska Passport program, which is a very popular program and it’s a fun program for travelers,” Engler said.
Glennis McClure, director of Gage Area Growth Enterprise (NGage), said the inclusion of Gage County locations in the annual tour is beneficial to the area.
“I think any time that our local organizations can be part of a state program like the Passport program that helps market to people all of the good things we have around here, that’s going to be a plus,” McClure said. “I think the Passport program seems to grow year after year. And so it may bring in more folks to the area.”
McClure said the program may bring new visitors to the area, which she called “a great win.”
“The Passport Program encourages travelers to explore the state collecting stamps, while reconnecting with Nebraska and supporting small businesses and attractions,” said Nebraska Tourism Commission executive director Kathy McKillip. “Year after year, the program gains popularity. In 2015, more than 24,600 travelers collected stamps and we expect 2016’s participation to be even better.”
Passports will be available at participating stops in May or can be pre-ordered by emailing info@NebraskaPassport.com, with a name, mailing address and number of Passport booklets requested.
The Nebraska Passport app is also available for download onto smartphones with 2016 updates to come on May 1.
Prizes for this year’s participants will be announced at the start of the program.