An event with a long history in Fort Calhoun has reached a milestone year. The 25th annual Big Red Dinner will be 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at Schwertley Hall.
Former Husker defensive star Jason Peter, who was a member of Nebraska's championship teams in 1994, 1995 and 1997, will be the guest speaker at this year's event, which features a catered meal and other activities. Peter also played in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers, co-hosted area radio shows and authored the book, "Hero of the Underground: My Journey Down To Heroin and Back."
"It's a way to recognize (former players) for the things they've done on and off the field and get them in the limelight again for one more night," said Mike Conrad, who organizes the event put on by the Fort Calhoun Knights of Columbus.
Previous speakers of the dinner, which helps fund other Knights of Columbus activities, include former Husker players Matt Davison and Jay Foreman and coaches Barney Cotton and Tom Osborne.
"We used to have coaches come in, but it's getting harder and harder to get coaches in closer to the start of football season," Conrad said. "So, we started doing the players. It gets them excited and gets them pumped for another Husker football season."
Conrad said the event has had many great speakers over the years, but the attendance of Jan Berringer, who spoke in 2006, offered a particularly powerful memory. Jan is the mother of former Nebraska quarterback Brook Berringer, who was killed in a plane crash shortly after his Husker playing career.
"She was phenomenal," Conrad said.
"It's well known that (Brook) would read "Green Eggs and Ham" to elementary students," he added. "I knew a person who made purses. They made a "Green Eggs and Ham" purse and we gave it to her. She just cried and cried."
Aside from Peter giving the speech at this year's dinner, he will also be inducted to the Fort Calhoun Knights of Columbus Hall of Fame. The Knights of Columbus pick a former Husker football player to enshrine in their Hall of Fame each year.
"He doesn't know that yet," Conrad said of Peter's induction.
Conrad said the event will also have new games of chance and the yearly commemorative glasses marked for the milestone year.
Conrad said sponsorship tables, which come at a higher price than regular tickets, have sold well, possibly more so than in the past. The sponsorship sales help keep the dinner's ticket cost affordable for others, he said.
More than 300 people are expected to attend this year's dinner, he added.
"Best event you're going to find for the price," Conrad said. "By the time we're done, people are asking, 'Who are you going to have next year?' ... It's a great opportunity where we can bring such a quality event at a great price for everyone."