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Destination Downtown: Everything's waiting for you
Jessica Kenyon
Antelope Staff

Photo by Jessica Kenyon
Nick Bartels of Lincoln, a junior majoring in visual communications, and Teresa Cousins of Seward, a senior majoring in pre-law/political science, wait patiently for their picture drawn by caricature artist Dirk Christensen during Destination Downtown.

For Megan Buresh, a freshman from  David City majoring in vocal performance, Destination Downtown was a place to “forget all our troubles, forget all our cares” as Petula Clark sang in her "Downtown" lyrics in 1965.

“The first week of college has been really stressful, especially for the freshmen, so Destination Downtown was something that really helped us get away and relax for awhile,” Buresh said.

On Thursday, Aug. 27, UNK students celebrated the beginning of the school year with the 6th annual Destination Downtown. Like the previous years, Destination Downtown offered a caricature artist, student discounts, free food, live music and prizes.

Leah Nelson of Byron, a sophomore majoring in visual communications and design, said, “The prizes, the discounts and the music were awesome, but when you’re not from Kearney, it’s also a great way to get people on    ‘The Bricks’ to learn more about the downtown businesses.”

Junior Stacy Oblinger, an elementary and special education major from Wymore, had a similar thought. “It’s a great way for the students to hang out with one another and also get to see what the downtown area offers to the students. Plus the free goodies— like the amazing fried Oreos— are a bonus as well.”

Who doesn’t love the idea of food, discounts and prizes? However, a crowd also gathered for “Fear of Flying,” a local band made up of guitarist Greg Sales, bassist-vocalist Dave Lerbakken and drummer-vocalist Mick Johnson.

This event was an opportunity for the band, that had actually separated in August of 2007, to play together again.

Drummer and vocalist Mick Johnson said, “I have been so busy over the past two years, I didn’t realize how much I missed playing live and how much I missed hanging with my two good friends. I could see it in their faces on stage, too.”

David Kelley of Gering, a sophomore major in music education, believed the band picked great songs. “You can tell they enjoy being on stage playing sweet music. It was also cool to see Greg and Mick onstage, who are part of the UNK faculty.”

Another major hit at Destination Downtown was the caricature artist, Dirk Christensen, who has been drawing at the event since the very beginning six years ago.

“Destination Downtown has grown so much since its inception that it could arguably be called the second biggest summer event on ‘The Bricks,’” he said. “As a Kearney native and a former UNK student—KSC as it was called then— I take some pride in the fact that the ‘town–gown’ relationship is so strong.

"The university and businesses community have a great rapport, and each supports the other very well. That is a very envious relationship, which is actually quite a rarity in similarly situated college towns.  I think it is something to be supported and fostered to grow even stronger, perhaps with more than just one event a year.”

Each year Destination Downtown has similar events, but one can never imagine how the night will turn out.

“I always expect the Ultimate Eating Contest to take place, and it does, but this year watching the guys slam the frozen shirts on the ground trying to unthaw them so they could wear them was funny," Oblinger said.

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