On Aug. 21, 2017, thousands of people from across the world gathered in Scotts Bluff County to witness one of nature’s most breathtaking sights: a total solar eclipse. South of the monument, local landowners Lisa Betz-Marquez and husband Frank Marquez prepared to welcome eclipse lovers to their Gering farm for an unforgettable weekend. Little did Betz-Marquez know, it was about to become even more memorable.
“We were busy preparing to receive campers from around the world, not knowing quite what to expect,” said Betz-Marquez. “I was thinking of every conceivable safety issue I could and determining tent sites, when two unexpected opportunities popped up,” she said.
The first of those opportunities was to host a South Dakota-based member of the Lakota tribe, Randy Gray Sage, for drumming, storytelling and communal meals. The second was to host a feature film cast and crew for a location shoot on the farm.
“Frank had National Guard duty in Wyoming that weekend, so my friend Rae Ann Schmitz offered to co-host,” Betz-Marquez said. “It was Rae Ann who reached out to the Lakota.”
Together, Schmitz and Betz-Marquez worked hard to cook meals that would be shared among the many visitors to the farm that weekend.
“We were crazy managing all of those details, and then I received a call from local filmmaker Becky McMillen, who was scouting locations for a film about the eclipse,” Betz-Marquez said.