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Barn welcomes visitors

July 3, 2012

Chard Hirsch serves as the Volunteer Coordinator for the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byways Interpretive Center, more commonly known as “The Barn".

Rhonda and Michael B. stopped into the Byway Barn on July 2 just looking for a travel book but instead found so much more. The couple is from mid-Arkansas and on their way to Mount Rushmore. They had stopped by four Visitor’s Centers after driving into Nebraska looking for the Nebraska Travel Book, finding none that were open.

In Broken Bow, their luck changed. Chard Hirsch had opened the Byway Barn less than half an hour earlier and she has a plethora of brochures ranging from Nebraska maps, attraction brochures and, of course, Nebraska Travel Books.

Hirsch has many a story to tell about her time at the Byway’s Barn. She is one of 29 active volunteers who spend time daily keeping the Barn up and running.

Hirsch told the Chief that residents from over 30 states have to date this summer already recorded their visits in the guest book.

She told an anecdote about a group from London who had called to inquire about the proper attire for the Sandhills.

“First of all, this is NOT the Sahara Desert,” she told them “You’ll see more cows than you will people, but the people you meet here are the friendliest people you’ve ever seen.” Hirsch says that she just wants to show people how “ultra-friendly” the population is out here.

There are many things to see at the Byway Barn including art from local artists, exhibits from multiple Custer Counties, a display about the Burlington Northern Trains, and even the Barn’s friendly resident dog, Josie.

“Josie brings in a bunch of the young ones and the older folks like her too,” says Hirsch. Another attraction at the Byway Barn is “Lake Accidental.”

“The first year we opened we had a lot of rain, and before long people were looking out the window exclaiming ‘Oh, what a cute little lake, what’s it called?’ And I didn’t know what to say! It was a ditch that had gotten too much rain, so I just said ‘That there is Lake Accidental’ and the name stuck!” Hirsch said.

The Byway Barn is open over the summer from May 1 through Sept. 30, opening at 10 a.m. every day (except Sundays, when the Barn opens at 1 p.m.) and closes every day at 5 p.m.

This is the fourth year that the Byway Barn has been in operation and the Barn welcomes anywhere between 4,000 and 5,000 visitors each season. Hirsch has seen visitors from all over the states and even entertains overseas travelers coming into the Visitor’s Center. The Barn welcomes visitors in large and small groups and to plan a group visit call 308-872-8331 during business hours

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