Scotts Bluff County Ag Society • PO Box 157 • Mitchell, NE 69357 • (308) 623-1828
In 1890 the first county fair was held in Scotts Bluff County in the town of Gering. At this time horse racing was very popular at the fair. There was no track, so main street in Gering was used.
The Scotts Bluff County Fair Association was organized in 1889 with Frank Beers as president. Farmers were invited to bring their grain and other products for exhibit. Since there were no buildings they were displayed in a vacant livery barn owned by Ed Brown.
No buildings of any value were ever put up while the fair was held at Gering, but they secured a tract of land in the southeast part of town for a race track and the agricultural and other exhibits were displayed in different buildings in town.
~ Scotts Bluff County Fair in the 1950's.
When Burlington built it's railroad on the north side of the river in 1900 it left Gering stranded. Mr. Beers, who was a heavy stokholder in the county fair, moved his hardware store to Mitchell. Other business men moved to Scottsbluff, Minatare and other towns on the railroad and Gering was in a sad state. They still continued to hold the county fair, with Mr. Beers as president.
These are some of the original buildings on the grounds that were removed for construction of the Event Center. ~
~ Contruction began in the fall of 1990.
Because of the development in irrigation and the progress in agricultural lines, Mr. Beers became dissatisfied with the county fair and began to plan with Mitchell men for a fair at Mitchell. This plan developed and a location was sought. This was in 1910 and J.O. Baker was asked to use his diplomacy and buy a 20-acre tract from Amos Elquest. Baker had a new home on River Ave. that he wanted to sell. He offered to trade this house to Elquest for a 27- acre tract. (This tract was originally a tree claim filed in 1887.) To show how alert the Mitchell men were, Mr. Baker transferred this land almost before the ink was dry on the Elquest deed - to the Mitchell Fair Association. The day following the transfer of land the Mitchell Fair Association was formed with the members being Mitchell business men.
~ Ready to use in time for fair 1991.
A race track was built and two Mitchell fairs were held. There were no buildings, so a tent was brought in from Denver to house the exhibits. Some livestock was entered but there were no stables so the animals were tied to trees. The first building erected was a stable for the race horses. It was located on the south side of the entrance gate which was later moved further south. Twelve acres was later purchased to make a total of 40 acres.
On January 12, 1912 the annual meeting of stockholders of the Scotts Bluff County Fair Association was held. Frank Beers had been quietly buying fair stock until Mitchell men had the controlling amount. He was elected president to succeed himself. When the vice president was elected the Gering stockholders first became aware of the fact that Mitchell men held the majority of shares and that the fair was getting away from them. It was then voted to move the fair to Mitchell.
Pictures of the entrance gate in the 1960's and now. ~
Since that time numerous people in the valley have been instrumental in improving and volunteering at
the fair. They have gladly donated their time and influence to be the best county fair in the panhandle of Nebraska. It is no longer owned by stockholders but by the Scotts Bluff County Agricultural Society.
On January 18, 1934 the dance hall burnt to the ground. The early thirties there were hard times. Credit was extended to the Fair Board by J. L. Sandford to replace the hall. The grand opening was held on March 28, 1934. Since this time the building is know as Sandford Hall and is listed in the National Registor of Historic Places. The American Legion hosted dances featuring orchestra greats as Lawrence Welk, Jan Garber and Joe Kayser.
In 1986 the new Livestock Barn was erected to hold cattle, hogs and sheep. There was also enough room for a show arena and crows nest.
In 1990-1991 most all the small buildings on the grounds were torn down and replaced with a 225' x 120' building called the Scotts Bluff County Event Center.