Scotts Bluff Co. Fair one for the books

MITCHELL, Neb. – The numbers are still coming in, but the 2018 Scotts Bluff County Fair saw bumps in attendance, in part spurred by moving one of the events most popular attractions.

The popular Rubber Check Race is arguably the main event at the annual fair, said Skip Jenne, Fair Board vice president. Moving the race from the mid-week time slot its occupied for years to Friday night had been a topic of discussion at several Fair Board meetings.

The Rubber Check Race “has a lot of loyal followers,” Jenna said. “We thought putting it on Friday night would give them and even more people an opportunity to attend.”

And, it seems, the idea was a good one. The board added about 1,000 extra seats to the grandstand area for the event, drawing an almost full house this year, he said.

“It was a great week,” said Lanna Hubbard, manager of the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds. “The weather treated us well and, as far as patrons, we had good attendance.

“We were definitely up in numbers,” she said. “The weather usually plays a factor in attendance. It was nice to have a nice, clear week.”

One new attraction at the fair this year was the Shorty Gorham American Freestyle Bullfighting, which also drew a large crowd on Thursday night. Something new for the fair, AFB will probably be returning, at least for a few more seasons, Jenne said.

“I’m pretty sure it will come back,” he said. “Like any new event, we’ll keep it there for a few years and see how it goes.”

Hubbard agreed: “It was received very well. We still have to do some numbers, but I’ve heard lots of really good things about it.”

But, alongside all the rides, games and special events, the basis of any county fair is the livestock. And this year saw good numbers for the 4-H and FFA livestock shows and sale.

Sheep and swine numbers were down from previous fairs, but the cattle entries made up for it with an increase of about 15 head in the shows, Jenne said. And the culmination of the shows, the Junior Livestock Sale on Saturday, also saw a change in format, moving to a by-the-head auction format.

“The (livestock) shows went really well, with no hiccups or anything,” Jenne said. “The sale format change seemed to be fairly well received.”

The market beef sale garnered $178,000 on 51 head for an average sale price of $3,490. Buyers spent $39,550 on 37 head of market sheep for an average price just shy of $1,100 and 78 market swine brought in $89,425, averaging almost $1,150 per head.

Meat goats brought the youth who showed them $12,000 on 14 head while eight dairy goats went for $6,350. The 10 entries in the market rabbit sale sold for $5,700 and eight entries from the poultry shows sold for $4,350.

By the numbers, the average sale price increased by $125 per head from last year on five fewer animals sold. And buyers spent $18,420 more this year than last.

“It made for a pretty good barn full or critters,” Jenna said.

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