Wayne County Fair Opens With Bullriding, Bullfighting


WAYNE – Thursday evening featured a new event at the Wayne County Fair along with the excitement of an eight-second ride.

The 97th annual Wayne County Fair kicked off their opening ceremonies with the Ultimate Bullriding Tour and L.J. Jenkins Invitational Bullriding Tour. Bullfighters Only (BFO) also took place during intermission of the Bullriding.

Matt Merritt was the entertainer Thursday evening and recently was in Utah and California before flying into Nebraska earlier in the day. He talked about his role.

“So, I fill that downtime with comedy and dancing,” said Merritt. “They call me an entertainer so it always doesn’t have to be funny right, like I’m here to help the audience to have fun from beginning to end.

Merritt left home July 2 and won’t be done until September 2 and is busy throughout the summer traveling across the United States.

Shawn Stutzman is from Staplehurst, Nebraska and made his first trip to the Wayne County Fair. Stutzman mentioned he has fun with his job as the barrelman helping the bullfighter.

“If they get in a wreck, I’ll pack my barrel in and help them out,” Stutzman mentioned. “Then if they want to sell a bull that’s kind of fighting a little bit, he’ll bring them to the barrel. The crowd loves seeing the barrel get hit, for some reason, I actually like it too; it’s pretty cool.”

A world champion bullfighter was also on hand.

Merritt talked about going into the bullfighting what fans could see.

“Some guys are going to do flips, some guys are going to get caused to do a flip,” Merritt added. “Some guys are going to just do what we call a fundamental fight where they’ll break that bull down and control him in the center of the arena.”

Throughout Thursday 4-H and FFA members showcased their animals. Thursday youth featured horses, bucket calves, dairy goats, peewee bucket calves, sheep and more.

The River City Carnival will open again at 5 p.m. Friday as well as 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (perfect school attendance). Individual tickets are available while all-day ride wristbands are $25 per day.

More 4-H and FFA shows will take place throughout Friday with Chamber Coffee scheduled for 10 a.m. from the fair office hosted by the Wayne County Fairboard.

The 57th annual BBQ will last from 6 until 7:30 p.m. near the food court with the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League (PPL)/Nebraska Bush Pullers tractor pull to take over the grandstand around 6:30 p.m. Friday night.