GIBBON — While most people think of cranes when they think of Rowe Sanctuary, Wendy S. Horine invites patrons to think about more.
“We are definitely more than just cranes,” she said in an interview from her office at the sanctuary. “We are open all year long and we have events, including Blues on the Banks, as well as other fundraising events. We have weekend programs for families on all kinds of natural history topics and we have summer camps — something going on all year long.”
Rowe Sanctuary will host a mixture of music, brews and nature during its fourth annual Blues on the Banks, 5 p.m. Aug. 23. The event will feature music by the OK Sisters with special guest Marty Tilley, as well as guided prairie walks, food prepared by guest chefs from First National Bank in Kearney and brews from Steeple Brewing of Hastings.
Admission to Blues on the Banks is $20. Guests will receive three tickets at the door. Each ticket can be used to purchase a brat, burger or beer from Steeple Brewing. Additional tickets can be purchased for $5 each. Guests must be 21 or older to attend.
Advance registration by Wednesday is required.
“It’s a chance for folks to come out and just enjoy a summer evening here at the sanctuary, listening to some good music, eating some good food and enjoying some local brews,” said Horine, director of community outreach for the sanctuary.
The music starts at 6:45 p.m.
Combining music and nature attracts patrons who might not otherwise attend events at Rowe Sanctuary.
“There are folks who follow the OK Sisters,” Horine said. “They like to come out every year. But it also is an opportunity for folks who have never been here before to see our visitors center and our trails. They can get some information on what we actually do out here.”
Events like Blues on the Banks calls attention to the sanctuary.
“There are so many folks who live in the local area that may not even know we’re here,” she said. “And if they do know about us, they don’t know what we do here. So this is a good opportunity for folks to come out and learn a little bit about what goes on here.”
Horine understands the importance of the Platte River habitat.
“We’re all connected to it, whether we realize it or not,” she said. “One of the major things we try to accomplish here is to preserve the Platte River in as close to a natural state as we can. We actually manicure the banks and take vegetation off the sandbars. Historically, the flows in the river would have done that. That’s how the river would normally function — wide and shallow.”
Irrigation and other demands have changed the hydrology of the Platte River.
“There’s only about 10 percent of the river functioning the way it normally would,” Horine said. “When the cranes come through in the springtime, that’s what they are looking for: wide open and shallow river space. That’s why we get so many cranes here. They can’t use the majority of the river.”
Bringing guests to events like Blues on the Banks helps educate the public on how the river functions. A healthy river habitat encourages other animals to thrive in the area.
“We provide a safe place for a lot of other wildlife, too,” Horine said. “Everybody thinks of Audubon as just birds, but here at Rowe Sanctuary we are home to a lot of other native wildlife species. Everything benefits from the work we do here. And people benefit, too, because this is a place where they can come and learn about the natural habitat and their connection to the natural world — and gain a better appreciation of it all.”