North Platte Canteen Festival

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North Platte Canteen Festival

On December 17, 1941, North Platte residents gathered at the Union Pacific Depot because they heard that a troop train carrying their own boys would be coming through. When the train stopped, everyone was stunned. None of their boys were to be found, but instead soldiers from Kansas were packed in tight. After a moment of disbelief, one person stepped forward and gave their presents to the troops. These men were not familiar, but they were someone’s sons, and it was Christmas time. Everyone else soon followed. The amazement and happiness expressed by the soldiers at receiving these gifts sparked an idea in a young woman’s mind. Rae Wilson penned a simple letter to the editor asking North Platte to follow the lead of their ancestors in World War I by opening a Canteen at the depot to serve the military persons passing through. Little did she know, she would be starting an endeavor that would last for 54 months, involve 55,000 volunteers, and serve more than 6 million service men and women with food, drinks, gifts, and much needed kindness.

The North Platte Canteen was one of the largest volunteer efforts of World War II. North Platte became famous. Even on the battlefield, men would say, “How’d you like to have some of that food from the North Platte Canteen right about now?”

When an impact like that has been made, it is important to keep that story and heritage alive.

We would like to invite the community to join us for the our annual North Platte Canteen Festival held the second weekend of October and for our North Platte Christmas Canteen Festival held the third weekend in December. To honor the selflessness that started here in North Platte by joining our neighbors in the newly revitalized Canteen District seems like the perfect reason to gather. With events highlighting the patriotism, volunteerism, and discovery of the World War II Canteen, this festival is sure to not only spread holiday joy but to keep this amazing chapter of North Platte’s history alive!

Details and schedules will be added as they become available!

Proceeds will be donated to the Lincoln County Historical Museum to further their World War II Canteen exhibit which will continue to spread this story of volunteerism and patriotism for generations to come.




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