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County fair posts another big success
August 13, 2015 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Doug Harris/Gering Citizen - Corbin and Ella Anderson enjoy tending to Ella's sheep at the Scotts Bluff County Fair.

Scotts Bluff County Fair Manager Lanna Hubbard said this year’s event was another big success, although the final attendance numbers are still to be figured out.

“As far as attendance in general, everything went great,” Hubbard said. “The stands were filled for the tractor pull. This is the first time we’ve scheduled one of those during fair week, although we’ve had them in the past at other times.”

Another big draw was the Saturday night concert, with headliners Sawyer Brown. With at least 20 studio albums, three of them have been certified gold with sales of at least 500,000 copies.

The group has had at least 50 of their singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts over the years and received a Horizon Award from the Country Music Association, Vocal Group of the year from the Academy of Country Music and many other honors.

“We had a full house for the concert and they were well received,” Hubbard said. “Right now we’re just trying to come up with the totals and clean up for next year.”

There was another sellout crowd in the grandstand last Wednesday night at the fairgrounds to watch and unusual kind of relay race – involving two horses, a four-wheeler, a wheelbarrow and four team members.

Now in its 32nd year, the Rubber Check Race had people lined up early in the morning the day tickets went on sale. The tickets were gone that same day.

“It was a really good night with great weather,” said organizer Mike Lenhart. “No one got bucked off or overturned an ATV.”

There were 13 teams entered for the initial time trials, the same as last year. Lenhart said all teams had to qualify for the preliminary time trial and then the pack was broken down into eight teams. The championship race was a close one this year, with the Kawasaki Korner winning the championship by just a few feet.

“We lost some teams from last year but gained some new ones,” Lenhart said. “The team that finished in third this year is brand new and had never raced before. It was good to see some new faces in the event. And some of the other teams have been doing it for years.”

He said the event is so popular in part because nearly everyone knows the contestants and come out the see friends and neighbors try their skill on an ATV, horses and pushing a wheelbarrow as fast as they can go.

“The Rubber Check Race is a really exciting event,” Lenhart said. “There’s lots of high energy and excitement and a lot of fun to see. And it’s the biggest draw the fair has.”

Dallas Larson, who made major contributions to the growth of the fair over the years, came up with the idea for the Rubber Check Race 33 years ago. And it became an event that has spanned generations. Lenhart’s father competed in the race before he did, and his son is now taking part.

The next night, the Built Ford Tough Mud Bog was on the schedule for Thursday. And like the Rubber Check Race the night before, another full house showed up for the event, which is now in its ninth year. The side-by-side mud drag track was in the middle of the arena. Closest to the grandstand, there was the barrel and bale course. And on the other side was barrel racing course called “extreme barrel racing” to test the skill of motorcycle and ATV riders.

“We had a great crowd and wonderful participation from local riders,” said organizer Matt Silverman. “There were four-wheelers, motorcycles, kids’ ATVs. We had to get a lot of vehicles through the mud pit. And the good thing is that none of the participants had to leave on a board. I always tell everyone to ride safe and keep it within their limits.”

Silverman said the events pulls many participants from across the region. Because Ford Motor Company sponsors the purses, people came from as far as Utah this year.

“Everything went off without a hitch and this year was another wonderful fair,” he said. “But the fairgrounds aren’t just for the fair anymore.”

His reference was to the upcoming Demolition Derby on Aug. 22. That event travels on a circuit so more local drivers can participate.
The fairgrounds will also be alive with activity on Sept. 5 as the Old West Balloon Fest … Re-Inflated makes a return after decades of absence. In addition to balloon flights, there will be kite demonstrations, kids’ activities, food vendors and an 11-hour music festival.

“We want to hit home runs with both of these events,” Silverman said. “We want these to be premiere events that only grow over the years.”

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