Some of the best taxidermists from Nebraska and beyond are gathered this weekend for the Nebraska State Taxidermists Association’s Annual Competition in Grand Island.
The event opened Friday at the Mid-Town Holiday Inn and will run through Sunday. It is open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. today and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
This is the fifth consecutive year Grand Island has hosted the event, according to Dwayne Berggren, owner of B&S Taxidermy in Grand Island, and a participant in the event.
Berggren has been a taxidermist for 25 years. He said taxidermy is an “art form.”
“People don’t realize that it’s wildlife artistry,” he said.
During the competition, taxidermists will have their mounts judged by leading experts in the field and four state champion medallions will be rewarded in the categories of mammals, whitetail/game head, birds and fish/reptiles. Along with the competition, there will be seminars by the best taxidermists in the country, along with vendors, auctions and other convention activities.
Last year, the competition and state meeting drew taxidermists from eight states. Berggren said the event draws a lot of regional interest.
Berggren said the state convention is also a chance for him and his fellow taxidermists to learn more about their craft.
He said when he first started in the business, taxidermists were “tight-lipped” about their individual techniques and style.
“Now with our organization, people share stuff all the time,” he said. “That is how everybody gets better.”
At this year’s show, Berggren is showing mounts of animals he hunted in South Africa. He will show an impala and a kudu.
Nate Francis of Fairbury, president of the Nebraska State Taxidermists Association and owner of Wildlife Obsessions Taxidermy, said the convention will allow the public to see a wide range of mounts, from an African lion to a squirrel.
One of the seminars today will be hands-on instruction in mounting an alligator head.
“That’s not something you see every day in Nebraska,” Francis said.