could be Buffalo's crossing the platte

 Research Papers

Today is:

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 hall
          Livestock pens & stalls
          Race track

1884 – Fair moved to Kearney – Central location
          Grounds site of present fairgrounds
          Buildings moved from Shelton
          Half mile race track – big draw

1890 – land for new fairgrounds purchased across road from Stone School on Coal Chute Road
          1 mile race track
          Maybe 12 display buildings
          Grandstand and band stand
          Large mortgage

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 annually

          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

II. Racing

1. Horse racing/Harness Racing

Don’t 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 of July
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.

Boom Period
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 afternoon
          – 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 little girl.”

Horse/harness racing continued through 1890’s 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 Mid-Summer Race
               Had been an annual event for many years attracting thousands.
               But attendance had been declining
          Nov. 24, 1924 – Gould Sale
               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 prohibitive.
          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 fairgrounds.
               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.


And Also

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


Copyright ©   All rights reserved


You may use content from this web site for your personal, not-for-profit purposes only. 


 Search Our Site

Please send Mardi Anderson your comments/feedback

Revised: 02/06/2018