This year marks the 19th annual Boxing Day Open House at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. The open house is Tuesday, Dec. 26, 2017 from noon until 3:30 p.m. with the visitor center open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. After the hectic holiday season relax with music, crafts, socialization and refreshments.
The Green Valley Homesteaders will lead an open jam session, which continues all afternoon and attendees are encouraged to bring their musical instruments and play along.
Music was a big part of Cook family gatherings at the ranch; many members of the family played or play at least one instrument. Craft materials are available to make ornaments to take home or to hang on the Agate tree. Light refreshments for the open house are provided by the Oregon Trail Museum Association; in addition, all bookstore items are discounted 15% throughout December.
The Artist-in-Residence Art Gallery will be available throughout the day, and many times the late afternoon sun on the hills around the park provides wonderful photo opportunities. Participants of past Boxing Days agree that they enjoy socializing, reminiscing about special holiday memories and relaxing on a pleasant winter afternoon.
Boxing Day, an official British holiday, is observed in Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia Dec. 26. Dorothy Meade, granddaughter of James Cook of the Agate Springs Ranch, and her husband, Grayson, lived in Canada, and adopted this holiday. During the late 1970s and ‘80s, while living at the ranch, the Meades hosted a Boxing Day gathering. They invited their neighbors, relatives and friends to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and served homemade wines, cheese and crackers. This afternoon of socializing brought the Christmas season to a pleasant close.
The park adopted the Boxing Day tradition in remembrance of the many gatherings with paleontologists, American Indians, friends and neighbors held at the Agate Springs Ranch over the years.
In the spirit of giving, canned goods will be accepted by the cooperating association for distribution to food pantries in Crawford and Mitchell to help restock after the holidays.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located only 34 miles north of Mitchell, Nebraska or 22 miles south of Harrison, Nebraska on Highway 29 and three miles east on River Road. The visitor center hours are 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the trails are open from dawn till dusk. Admission to Agate Fossil Beds is free.