CONCORD — Since 1913, folks in Dixon County have been gathering for the fair.
On Thursday, July 29, the festivities will commence once again with good food and fun entertainment. A highlight of Dixon County’s 108 year-old tradition is a free barbecue meal provided by the agricultural society on opening night from 5 to 7 p.m. alongside an action-packed team penning event at the fairgrounds in Concord.
“Competitors draw a number before saddling up,” said Mark Muller, with eight years of service on the fair board and now in his first year as president. “When the cattle enter the arena, they have different numbers on their backs.”
Team sorting is a timed event, and separating 600 to 700 pounds of cattle at high speed is an art form.
Dixon County also hosts a well-supported 4-H organization. Beef, swine, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, chickens and rabbits are only a few of the critters showcased around the livestock presentation and competition — a welcome change from last year, said Allan Bauman, secretary of the fair board.
“Despite COVID, we did have a fair last year, but the 4-H activities were down a bit in number,” he said.
The open-class beef show, in particular, is one of Bauman’s favorite attractions. Fairgoers can look forward to watching this event on opening night beginning at 5.
The demolition derby will start its engines at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. This is yet another mainstay at the fair, as the smoke, dust and debris will be scattered across four classes of competition. One of the more unusual aspects of Dixon County’s derby is its youngest division, which welcomes competitors ranging from ages 16 to 19.
Unfortunately, because of scheduling issues with carnival companies, Dixon County will not be able to host a midway in 2021. The limited number of companies providing festival games and rides around Northeast and North Central Nebraska prompted much rescheduling last summer during the pandemic. Now, these businesses are returning in high demand, and certain counties have been unable to secure carnival services this season. The county anticipates the return of midway rides in 2022.
New ideas have come into play. For the first time, fairgoers will enjoy a “virtual reality game truck.” This Norfolk area vendor offers a wide range of immersive video games. Once rigged into a standing station, players might feel as though they are driving a race car or enjoy the experience of flying a fighter jet. If virtual reality is not your speed, you can always look forward to spotting many friends and neighbors to sit down and visit with in the shade.
And for the younger crowd, “Dusty Road” pony rides and a petting zoo will be in town to enjoy throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, the tractor pull will get started early. Farm and antique pullers roll out before lunch at 11 a.m. During the day, cow/calf pairs will compete for top honors. This event ranks annually as one of the larger showings around Nebraska with better than 60 pairs. In the evening, the tractors get bigger as the stakes go up. The highly anticipated “Outlaw” truck and tractor pull will rumble through the fairgrounds on Saturday night.
The only fee is gate admission, so many of these attractions are enjoyed free of any added expense. The festivities run from Thursday, July 29, through Sunday, Aug. 1, off Maple Street in Concord.