Four months after a bomb cyclone flooded the grounds, the Cedar County Fair is ready to kick off its five-day run today (Wednesday) in Hartington, Nebraska.
The event launches a month-long run of county fairs and 4-H Achievement Days in southeast South Dakota and northeast Nebraska.
For Cedar County Ag Society members, immediate prospects looked bleak after the bomb cyclone dumped inches of rain on the Hartington fairgrounds. The fairgrounds took on the most damage in its history spanning more than a century.
For two days, the grounds were under water and sustained an estimated $200,000 in losses. The inundation damaged roads and fences, and destroyed a 56-stall livestock building.
But heading into tonight’s opening events, Ag Society president Greg Heine noted the major improvements that will once again provide fairgoers with a fun, family-friendly experience.
“I feel like things are going really well. It’s a lot better than they were last March,” Heine said. “We’ve really come back, but it’s been four months of a lot of work. Things have really come together. It’s something we can all be proud of.”
The schedule includes barrel racing tonight, a rodeo Thursday, concerts by rock legend Bret Michaels and country artist Jordan Davis on the respective Friday and Saturday nights, and the traveling “Remember Our Fallen” memorial.
After the March flooding, the Ag Society and the Cedar County Extension office initially focused on pushing through with recovery efforts. Once the clean-up was finished, work crews and volunteers made the needed adjustments for this year’s fair, particularly the livestock building.
“We worked with Mike Kuchta, who helped us with a temporary structure that he donated for our use,” Heine said. “We had to fix damage on the grounds, and we’re still fundraising for our building project. But things have turned out really nice.”
Besides the NBHA sanctioned barrel racing, tonight features a free hamburger feed along with a talent show open to a wide variety of acts.
On Thursday, the fair celebrates 20 years or promoting rodeo by welcoming the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) and Women’s Profession Rodeo Association (WPRA) to the venue for a sanctioned event. The contestants will compete in seven traditional events.
Friday night is “Veterans Night” and the schedule calls for a plane fly-over during the national anthem as well as a tribute from the local Legion Riders, leading a processional bringing the “Remembering Our Fallen” memorial wall to the fair. The memorial was created to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The photo memorial includes military and personal photos of each of Nebraska’s fallen. The exhibit is traveling through Nebraska and will remain at the Cedar County Fair.
Concerts take to the stage during the weekend.
Friday and Saturday nights feature an opening act in the beer garden, next to the grandstand.
Sunday offers a family-oriented schedule, with a kids carnival, face painting, ice cream social, pedal pull contest, Old Time Fiddlers and reptile show. The evening features a tractor pull, which is a departure from the demolition derby of past years.
The 4-H and open class divisions will again feature a number of contests on the fairgrounds, according to Cedar County Extension staff member Mary Lou Steffen.
Both temporary facilities and restored permanent buildings are ready for the arrival of both livestock and non-livestock exhibits, she said.
“You drive on the grounds and it looks pretty decent. Where the dirt had washed out, they came in and seeded it with oats in the middle and it has quickly grown on the bare spots,” she said. “They used a fair amount of crushed rock on the driveway going through the grounds and have really firmed things up.”
The fair remains family friendly, she said. “The admission to the fairgrounds is free, and the events outside of the grandstand are free,” she added.
The midway won’t offer a carnival this year, but it will offer a zip line, climbing wall, inflatables and other fun offerings.
The following is an overview of other area fairs and Achievement Days.
BON HOMME COUNTY: The Achievement Days will be held Aug. 1-3 at the Tyndall fairgrounds.
The exhibits will be entered Aug. 1. The Aug. 2 schedule includes the goat show and sheep show, barbecue, fashion review and dairy and beef show.
The 4-H Barbecue will be held Aug. 2 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Tyndall park across from the 4-H grounds.
CHARLES MIX COUNTY: Achievement Days will be held July 30-Aug. 2 in Lake Andes. The first two days are dedicated to entering and judging of exhibits and interviews.
The Aug. 1 schedule includes dairy cattle showmanship and show, dairy goat show, goat showmanship, breeding meat goat, meat goat show, meat goat showmanship and poultry/egg show and showmanship, and the beef showmanship and show.
The evening features the 4-H barbecue, parade of champions/style show and Ag Olympics, and champion beef show.
The Aug. 2 line-up includes the swine showmanship and show, cat/companion animal show and showmanship, rabbit show and showmanship, and the round robin.
CLAY COUNTY: The fair runs Aug. 6-10 in Vermillion. The entry, check-in and interview for exhibits run the first three days. On Aug. 8, the open class and 4-H exhibit building will open for the public.
On Aug. 8, the daytime schedule includes bingo, vendor booths, inflatables, National Park Service mobile ranger station, Farmers Union safety trailer, and Sanford and Sioux Falls VA health exhibits.
The afternoon features the companion animal show, Fair Princess pageant, 4-H poultry show, beer garden, and the Heartland Humane Society with pets available for adoption.
The evening includes the free community barbecue Thursday at the Platz-Kobe Provost, Dakota Kids pedal pull, and 4-H swine show.
The Aug. 9 schedule includes the 4-H sheep show, Clay-Union Electric demonstrations and customer appreciation, Elaine Peacock on the Main Stage, bingo at the beer garden, story time with the Vermillion Public Library (at Clover Hall) and inflatables.
The schedule continues with the 4-H goat show, vendor booths, 4-H fashion review and 4-H rabbit show. Other activities are the farmers market, beer garden, food truck, Barnyard Olympics, Matt and Joe Acoustic (on the Main Stage), chainsaw carving, ice cream social, robotics demonstration and cornhole tournament.
The evening entertainment features Bluff Ridge on the main stage followed by the teen dance (for ages 13-18).
The fair concludes Aug. 10 with the beef show; car, truck and tractor show and shine; open class fruit pie, decorated cake and cookie contest; inflatables, vendor booths, beer garden, bingo, 4-H round robin contest, horse rides, celebrity round robin contest and salsa competition sponsored by the Vermillion Area Farmers Market.
DOUGLAS COUNTY: Achievement Days runs Aug. 5-6 in Armour.
The Aug. 5 schedule includes the rabbit show, cat and kitten show and poultry show during the afternoon. The evening features the 4-H barbecue, root beer floats, bingo and Ag Olympics.
The Aug. 6 schedule features the large animal livestock show with baby beef, breeding beef, dairy cattle and market beef. The finals in showmanship will follow each show.
HUTCHINSON COUNTY: The fair runs July 31-Aug. 3 at the Tripp fairgrounds. The opening night is dedicated to checking in entries, with the judging and displays set for the next day.
Aug. 1 features a horse roping demonstration, livestock judging contest and awards, and the 4-H sheep show.
The Aug. 2 schedule includes the 4-H swine, rabbit, dairy cattle and dairy goat shows, with a livestock skill-a-thon held during that time. The afternoon continues with games for all ages, vendors inside and outside the ballroom and a 4-H shooting sports demonstration.
The evening features the 4-H barbecue, sponsored by the Tripp Community Club; the fashion review and pie auction, open class sheep show, companion animal show and dance.
The final day offers the 4-H beef, poultry and meat goat shows and round robin, followed by a watermelon and pizza feed. Recognition will be given to the round robin winners, Cloverbud Show-N-Tell and senior members.
KNOX COUNTY (Nebraska): The fair runs Aug. 8-11 in Bloomfield, Nebraska, with the grandstand events and 4-H, FFA and open class activities throughout the fair.
The entertainment includes the Bull-A-Rama and the Soundz Unlimited in the beer garden, following the bull-a-rama, Aug. 8; the Aksarban Farm Awards and Scholarship in front of the grandstand, the Roots and Boots (Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Trippin and Collin Raye) in front of the grandstand; and Entertainment and State Line Drive in the beer garden, Aug. 9; the Northeast Nebraska tractor pull, “More than Fun” strolling act on the midway, face painting, “Boston Rocks” at the grandstand; and State Line Drive in the Beer Garden, Aug. 10; and the kiddie pedal pull, “More Than Fun” strolling act, face painting; bingo on the midway and Monster Trucks on the Tractor Pull Track, Aug. 11.
TURNER COUNTY: The fair runs Aug. 12-15 in Parker, including a wide array of 4-H and open class competitions.
The activities include the ranch rodeo, community church service, free barbecue with SDSU ice cream and Gordy and Debbie, variety music show; Aug. 11; Old Time Fiddlers, Merlyn Tiede spiritual music, and bulls, broncs and barrels with mutton busting Aug. 12; South Dakota magazine, children’s program, pie contest, Old School House, “Back Porch Pickers,” Parker Stars and Marion James youth dance groups; Turkey Ridge N Valley Band, Last Call Rock Band, and enduro races, Aug. 13; Outdoor Campus children’s program, church service, Senior Day, Old School House, Queena Getskow and family (gospel music) Kerry and Lori Hofer family (gospel music); 50th Anniversary, Vietnam Vets “Never Again,” Hallelujah Hooligans (gospel music) and Figure 8 races, Aug. 14, and 4-H program and fahion review, youth talent contest, Radio Rangers (classic country music) and demolition derby, Aug. 15.
UNION COUNTY: The fair runs Aug. 1-3 at the Alcester fairgrounds.
The Aug. 1 schedule includes the swine show and showmanship, flag raising, Sioux Falls Zoomobile, Peewee Livestock Show and Tell, companion animal show, opening ceremony, “Wild Card” Band, flag lowering, and family movie night with snacks.
The Aug. 2 schedule includes the rabbit show and poultry judging, dairy goat and dairy show and showmanship, ice cream social, “Mr. Twister” balloon and art entertainment, beef show and showmanship, laser tag, carnival games, car and tractor show, tractor pull, flag retirement ceremony, kids pedal pull and flag lowering.
The Aug. 3 schedule includes market goat show and showmanship, teen leaders pancake breakfast, sheep show and showmanship, flag raising, youth/adult pie baking contest, 4-H livestock showmanship contest, smile contest for kids, 4-H livestock premium sale, community supper and fashion review, supper entertainment by “The Back 40 Boys Band,” a show by Tuey the comic stunt juggler, and flag lowering.
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