I'm not sure what it is about Grand Island that fascinates me so much. It's kind of like right in the center of the country. The true center of the contiguous states lies about 100 miles south, but Grand Island kind of seems like the center. Grand Island is about half-way across the state of Nebraska on Interstate 80. If you're crossing the country on I-80 you go right past Grand Island and there's a good chance you might even stop to eat or fill up with gas. Or you might stay there like we did.
We weren't just passing through, but we were working there. When I was with the World of Fantasy Players we played Grand Island every year. We would also play a few of the surrounding towns and always have at least one day off while we were there so we used Grand Island as a home base. It was a welcome respite from our typical one-nighter schedule.
Every year we would visit the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer. The museum is a beautiful facility with a fine collection of artifacts and exhibits depicting pioneer life. There is a recreation of a railroad village and other outdoor exhibits. When we used to visit they had a steam train that would take visitors around the sizable grounds, but apparently the train is no longer operational which is too bad since that was one of the highlights as far as I was concerned.
One year we went to the horse races and bet on horses. I've not had much experience with betting on horses--in fact I believe this is the only time I've done it. We had a grand time at the horse race in Grand Island.
As was often the case in our repeat yearly visits to towns, I had certain places where I looked forward to eating. In Grand Island I always made at least one visit to Runza Burger. Runza is a regional fast food restaurant where the specialty is a stuffed pastry filled with ground beef, onions, and cabbage. The bread was not really like the typical hamburger bun, but the German influenced concoction was so savory that I looked forward to it every year.
If I could I'd go to Grand Island just for the Runza burgers, but another visit to the Stuhr wouldn't be bad either. Grand Island sits there in the middle of the United States hoarding Runzas and Americana. Most Americans probably don't even realize what they're missing.
Have you ever been to Grand Island? Am I overstating its appeal? Have you had a Runza sandwich?