The northeast Nebraska town hit hard by a tornado last month held its annual summer celebration this weekend. Residents said the festival provided a welcome break from cleanup and repairs they've been dealing with since the June 16th storm damaged or destroyed at least three-quarters of Pilger.
Some of the events usually held downtown had to be moved to the northwest corner of town, the only area that escaped significant damage.
Pilger Fire Chief Kory Koehlmoos said he and other village officials initially weren't sure whether to go forward with Pilger Days, but most of the events were already planned and residents wanted to hold the festival.
"This is what Pilger is, this is what we've been waiting for," said Pilger native Jacquelin Oswald. "You know it's horrible to say, but after the tornado hit we were like, are we going to have Pilger Days? Are we going to have volleyball?"
Some of the events, including a mud volleyball tournament, helped raise money for the town's recovery. "It's nice to be able to smile and laugh and have a good time," said Oswald. "Friends getting together that haven't seen each other for years and years and years. So it is nice to be able to enjoy life again."