- Associated Press - Friday, December 18, 2015

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (AP) - Organizers say that Rail Fest 2016 in North Platte has been canceled because of lack of staffing and resources.

The North Platte Telegraph (http://bit.ly/22dfcdf ) reports that the event’s chairman, Don Kurre, began informing people of the cancellation on Thursday. Organizers had expected next year’s event celebrating the city’s railroad heritage to be the biggest ever because it would have been Rail Fest’s 10th anniversary.

“My sense is that the support is dwindling within the community,” Kurre said. “We just couldn’t do it anymore - I just couldn’t do it anymore.”

The executive director of the North Platte/Lincoln County Visitors Bureau, Lisa Burke, estimates that the impact of the cancellation to the local economy could be about $500,000. The bureau has provided Rail Fest with $15,000 a year in grants to market the event, and Burke says, “we’ve fully supported it and hate to see it go.”

Logistics coordinator Dave Harrold says the grants help with promotion for the event, but they are not enough. He noted that many tourists get information about events from social media.

“They don’t rely on brochures or train publications. We’ve gotten grants, and we’re grateful but that (type of promotion) is old-school,” Harrold said.

He says that having someone focus solely on social media for the event would help, but it is not a workable solution.

The coordinator says that he’s not sure if this is the end for the festival, but he likes to believe that someone else will take over.

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Information from: The North Platte Telegraph, http://www.nptelegraph.com

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