Adult Spelling Bee

The Nebraska Literary Heritage Association proves spelling bees aren’t just for kids with their adult-only competition that’s become a Lincoln tradition.

The 34th annual Adult Spelling Bee will be Sept. 26 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Single Barrel in Lincoln. The event is also the organization’s annual fundraiser.

About 20 adult spellers take the stage each year to face a series of spelling rounds with varying difficulties, event chair Jenni Jex said.

“Some of [the contestants] get out on fairly easy words that you kind of laugh at and then we have people who can spell the most bizarre words you’ve ever seen,” Jex said. “It’s just fun to see the ranges.”

Committee member Molly Fisher said the event attracts individuals looking to show off their spelling, whether they participated in bees as children or are just passionate about spelling.

“The [contestants] come from a variety of backgrounds,” she said. “We’ve had firemen and mechanics and people that are of all walks of life.”

The Literary Heritage Award, which is given to an individual instrumental in promoting reading and writing in Nebraska, will also be presented at the event.

This year’s award will go to Paul Johnsgard, a member of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Biological Sciences department. Johnsgard is a bird specialist who’s written almost 100 books, Jex said.

The spelling bee winner and runner-up are also awarded a small prize, Jex said. At this year’s event, the winner will also be eligible for a secondary gift.

“This year we are going to add something special in,” she said. “The winner who spells the last word correctly will have the opportunity to spell another word correctly and will get a prize package with that for dinner and a movie night.”

Spellers and spectators can enter the competition for a small fee, and larger sponsors also support the event. The event usually raises more than $6,000 and constitutes the Nebraska Literary Heritage Association’s sole fundraiser, Fisher said.

She said the funds support the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library, which is dedicated to works about Nebraska and by Nebraskan authors.

“We’re preserving Nebraska’s heritage in our many authors,” she said. “Either [authors] who live in Nebraska or write about Nebraska, the room is a very special collection.”

The Nebraska Literary Heritage Association works to promote reading and writing across Lincoln outside their yearly fundraiser as well, Jex said.

“I think anytime you can promote reading and writing within your own community you’re doing good for everyone around,” Jex said. “It brings a sense of pride.”

The committee hopes for another successful event as their 34th spelling bee approaches, Jex said.

“We just hope for a really good turnout,” she said. “And we hope that our spellers are in their right spelling mode for the night and can go for many rounds with really great words, and that everyone has a good time and that we bring in a lot of money for the Heritage Room.”