Buffalo County Fair traditions return after COVID-19, but look for unique events


KEARNEY — Marketing director Andrea Woollen has one word for her feelings as she prepares for the Buffalo County Fair — excited.

“Oh, yes, we’re excited to be back to normal,” she said after witnessing the postponement of the majority of the fair in 2020. “We’re going to have our full carnival. The Heart of America shows are running Wednesday through Monday and we have the Wild Rider wrist band available which allows people to ride all week long for $60.”

Woollen looks forward to all the typical events that make the county fair so special.

“We’re excited to get the community back together with some cool, unique events,” she said. “Our theme is ‘Fair Bucket List,’ which includes some of the things we’ve missed in the last year. We can now check off those new and exciting things from our bucket list.”

The smallest events, events that remind us of simpler times, seem so big right now. Woollen talked about the traditions of the fair like the 4-H shows, the demolition derby, Kearney Volunteer Fire Department bingo and the draft horse competition in the Outdoor Arena.

“You know what you’re walking into,” she said.

Booking the acts presented more than a few challenges. Getting the acts up and running takes time.

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“When we started looking, a lot of the people in the acts weren’t quite ready to fully commit to putting a tour together,” Woollen said. “They weren’t sure what was going to be happening. We had a lot of communication with our booking agent and the artists, just to see who was available, who we could route through.”

One special event, Girls Night Out, 6-9 p.m. tonight, features area businesses.

“We did it in 2019 but that was our first year doing that event,” Woollen said. “We’ll have a bunch of pop-up vendors, which showcases the local businesses that maybe were affected during the last year. We’d like to help get them some exposure — and a few sales to help grow those businesses back.”

Another fun event, Sip, Shop & Stretch, offers a yoga class with beverages of choice. The Boozy Barre in the Beer Garden with Studios Group Fitness gives patrons another chance to unwind.

“You can enjoy a beverage there, too,” Woollen said. “It’s something a little different and something that might help bring more people to the fair.”

Her personal favorite — the music and the food.

“I love the concerts, and I love fair food,” she said. “Once a year I will eat a foot-long corn dog. That’s my favorite.”

Kearney favorites Judd Hoos will perform a free concert at 7:30 p.m. Sunday in the Buffalo Coral. Based in Sturgis, South Dakota, the quartet released a new EP in June called “Not Alone,” recorded in Nashville.


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