County Fairs & Racing
I. Early County Fairs
Buffalo Tales, Aug. 1981, "Early Fairs in Buffalo County", by
Barbara Pemberton Riege
1875, Sept 18 1st agricultural exhibit in Buffalo County
held in a downtown furniture store in Kearney.
1880-81 winter, Ag Soc. Reorganized
Shelton provided grounds
3 year contract
Built an Agricultural
Livestock pens & stalls
1884 Fair moved to Kearney Central location
Grounds site of present
Buildings moved from
Half mile race track
1890 land for new fairgrounds purchased across road from Stone School on
Coal Chute Road
1 mile race track
Maybe 12 display
Grandstand and band stand
1893 financial panic property sold, Ag Society dissolved
1913 Buffalo County Mid West Fair Association organized
Fairs held on old fairgrounds.
Article ends with a 20 year gap giving the impression there were no
county fairs during this time.
There were fairs but not
Some small community agricultural displays held around the county
No fairs held when Corn
Shows were held in Kearney
More sources are available now; more research needs to be done
1. Horse racing/Harness Racing
Dont know exactly when horse racing
started in Kearney
Probably from first settlement
Men have always wanted to know whose mode of transportation was fastest
Sometimes held in conjunction with a summer celebration such as Fourth
Usually held at fair time
An important feature of fairgrounds was a race track
Harness racing is a form of horse racing in which the horses race at
a specific gait (a trot or a pace). They usually pull a two-wheeled cart
called a sulky.
1889 Harness races used score cards for the first time that summer
Oct 5,6,7, 1892 The County Fair Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Buffalo
County Agricultural Society
horse races each
Also a special race or
exhibition consisting of a dog trotting against a trotting horse
It was reported, The dog will be
hitched to a small cart for the purpose and will be driven by a
Horse/harness racing continued through 1890s and early 1900s
Summer celebrations Memorial Day, July 4th, Mid-summer
Kearney Merchants Race Meet association
Sponsored summer races;
not those held at fair time.
July 4, 5, & 6, 1921
Expecting a Big Attendance for summer race meet
The end if Harness Racing
June 9, 1922 No
Had been an annual event for many years attracting thousands.
But attendance had been declining
Nov. 24, 1924
Midway Stock Farm was selling trotters and pacers.
First auction like this in Nebr. in 20 years
Usually Gould shipped his stock to eastern markets, Chicago or New York.
Now he was selling over 100 head and the cost of shipping would be
Jan 25, 1927
Directors set Aug 30, 31 & Sept 1 for fair
Decided to abolish harness racing [no reason given]
Motors were replacing horses
Again the challenge: Which one was fastest?
2. Motorcycle Racing/ Auto Racing
Sept 22, 1913
Motorcycle races to be part of the activities all three days of the fair.
June 6, 1914
Motorcycle races included in the planned Shelton Fourth of July celebration.
Aug 4, 1921
American Legion celebration planned for Aug 19.
The featured attraction was to be automobile and motorcycle races at
Motorcycles and drivers had to be from Buffalo county.
Two races, $25 cash prize for winner of each.
Auto races. The races will be confined to Fords only.
They must be stock cars,
Buffalo county cars and drivers.
Four races, $25 cash prize to winner of each
3. Bicycle Racing
Started back in Boom Period (1889) as adult races
Ended at county fair in 1936 as a race for boys 14 and under.
July 3, 1894
Would Like to See
[referring to the upcoming July 4th celebration]
The shooting committee postpone firing of the cannon until after 7 a.m.
A balloon ascension taking up a large number of mothers-in-law