BLOOMFIELD — Preparations for the Knox County Fair from Thursday, Aug. 13, through Sunday, Aug. 16, are ramping up, and a plethora of entertainment is lined up for the four-day event.
Carnival rides, a monster truck show and a live performance from the country music band Lonestar were withdrawn from the Knox County Fair’s entertainment lineup this year, but several other events are expected to draw a large crowd from the county and beyond. There won’t be a gate fee at this year’s fair, and the only cost will be admission into ticketed events.
“We (the county fair board) had about a three-hour meeting on July 6 to determine what we’d go with,” said Jerry Nipp, the fair’s manager. “The board was divided and there were a few members who said cancel it, but it was ultimately decided to have a fair with the exception of a few of our planned events.”
A performance by Soundz Unlimited will take place in the beer garden from 7 to 11 p.m. next Thursday.
Friday’s lineup will include a Burger Burn sponsored by the Knox County Cattlemen starting at 5 p.m., as well as a Bull-A-Rama event set to begin at 7 p.m. The Bull-A-Rama typically attracts upwards of 1,500 people, Nipp said. There is an admission price for the event, but admission is free for ages 12 and under.
“There’s just something everyone loves about watching people get bucked off by a bull,” Nipp joked.
After Friday’s Bull-A-Rama, the modern country band Eastern Heights will perform in the beer garden. While Eastern Heights is most noted for country music, the band performs a versatile lineup of tunes, including rock, pop, disco and funk.
Saturday’s lineup will consist of a tractor pull at 1 p.m. and a kiddie tractor pull to follow, a cornhole tournament at 2 p.m. in the beer garden and a live performance from Casey Rossiter from 5 to 7 p.m., also in the beer garden.
The rock ’n’ roll band Hairball will perform in the fair’s grandstand at 8 p.m. on Saturday. There is an admission fee for the concert, but it is free to children 12 and under. Eastern Heights will perform again in the beer garden once the Hairball concert is over.
Decent crowds are expected at most of the planned events, Nipp said, which raises the level of awareness regarding COVID-19.
“We’ll have markers in various spots throughout the grounds to encourage people to social distance,” Nipp said. “You can only spread people out so much, and these are all things we considered when we determined whether or not to have the fair this year. There were a couple things we determined had to be canceled in consideration of everyone’s safety.”
D.C. Lynch will be on the Midway each day of the fair with food stands and a variety of games.
The Knox County Fair reached out with an offer to Lonestar to come to Bloomfield next year and perform, but the band has yet to determine if it will perform in Knox County in 2021.
Each of the 4-H/FFA livestock shows and static exhibits will be open to the public throughout the week, and the last of the livestock shows will be a swine showmanship event on Sunday morning, Aug. 16.
The Knox County Fair, celebrating its 137th year, is one of the longest running county fairs in Nebraska. It’s also become one of the most well-attended fairs in the northeast part of the state over the past couple decades. Nipp and his wife, Deb have managed the fair for the better part of the past decade. The increased popularity of the fair, Nipp said, is a credit to the late Leroy Cordes, who managed the fair for several years before the Nipps.
“I tip my cap to Leroy,” he said. “He put a lot of resources into making sure Knox County always had a great fair, and we’ve just tried expanding on some of the things he started. We also have a great group of sponsors who help us provide some quality entertainment.”