Hundreds of people were in Hastings this weekend swapping stories and rare pieces of history.
The 22nd Annual Military Relics and Weapons Show has become a favorite for many vendors.
Organizers say they started with ten tables, and now have more than 200 – filled with weapons, medals, books, insignias, and more. Participants say because some of these items are more than 100 years old, other collectors are the best way to find them.
"Largely the crowd that comes here are looking to have camaraderie as much as anything and enjoy conversations about history and the past and the kinds of things we all enjoy," says collector Douglas Scott.
Show manager Ken Hegwood says getting into this side of history often starts with a single item.
"I've always been interested in helmets, and I picked my first helmet up in the city dump in 1939 in Knoxville, Iowa," says Hegwood.
Sometimes collecting military relics can become more than a hobby, and people like Hegwood get involved in reproduction efforts for museums or films.
"I'm a sign painter by trade, and I did the helmets for the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan,'" he says.
Scott says shows have been a good way to get younger people interested in starting and preserving collections. Hegwood says vendors aren't the only place to find relics; they can turn up at an auction or in an attic.
"If you really circulate yourself and ask anybody and everybody, there's plenty out there," says Hegwood.
The show also offers appraisals and can be a source to find missing pieces of a uniform or weapon. While some people are interested in selling, Hegwood says the stories behind the pieces can be lost that way.
"We try to make them keep the groupings together and put stuff in shadowboxes, keep it in the family instead of breaking it up – like uniforms and all the insignias and medals," says Hegwood.
The Nebraska Military Historical Society hosts the show. They also have military vehicle displays alongside the tables of artifacts.
Hegwood says they had been working toward building a museum in Hastings that could house their collections, but since funding and land have not come through, he expects much of their memorabilia to go to the state museum.