Harvey County Fair comes out of the gates with rodeo

Chad Frey
The Kansan

The evening entertainment at the Harvey County Free Fair will come out of the gates with a fair tradition July 30 — the annual Newton Saddle Club Rodeo will be in the Newton Saddle Club Area. 

The evening entertainment at the Harvey County Free Fair will come out of the gates with a fair tradition July 30 — the annual Newton Saddle Club Rodeo will be in the Newton Saddle Club Area.

An event started in the late 1960s, it was one of few fair events that was able to be run in 2020 as COVID-19 restrictions led to the cancellation of most large public events. 

"There were a lot of rodeos that were canceled last year," said Morrie Unruh, event organizer. "Our attendance was good. Last year there were people ready to get out and do something. ... For the circumstances it was very good. Last year was also hard on sponsors because their businesses were hurting."

He, and the Newton Saddle Club, find themselves in a similar position this year — as COVID restrictions have eased in the past few months people are ready to get out and do something "normal." Unruh said he expects a strong list of competitors this year — and they will come from not only Kansas but Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri as well.  

There will be two nights of rodeo action this year, July 30 and 31, both starting at 8 p.m. Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for kids six through 12. Children five and younger are free.  Proceeds from the event are used by the Newton Saddle Club for the arena and support of 4-H participants. 

Events will include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, women's breakaway roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing, junior barrel racing and bull riding. 

There will also be some kids games. 

"It's a race to keep everyone interested," Unruh said. 

Those races will include a boot scramble — kids remove their boots or shoes, throw them in a pile and then race across the arena to put them back on — and a bandanna scramble as well. 

Also on the calendar are rodeo clown/funnyman Greg Herrell from Hutchinson and the Rockin' H. Drill Team from Maize. 

This is the drill team's second appearance at the rodeo, the first was in 2019.  The team performs  precise, coordinated routines to music where the horses have to work together to stay in formation. 

All the events and special acts happen against he backdrop of some serious competition. Rodeo livestock contractor JC Rodeo Company operates as part of the Central Plains Rodeo Association, whic sanctions rodeos throughout the region, including in Marquette, McPherson, Newton, Salina and Emporia.

The Rockin' H Drill Team will return to the Newton Saddle Club Rodeo after making their debut in 2019.

Competitors can qualify for the Central Plains Rodeo finals.

But before they can head to the finals, they need to perform well at other places first — places like the traditional Newton Saddle Club Rodeo. 

"Since the late 1960s. It has been a tradition, along with the fair, even before my time. It works well. You have the carnival there, and the fair there. It works really well," Unruh said.  "We are excited for it. It is a lot of work to get to it. It is a fun event for everyone.  Everyone likes the western way of life and to think about things in a different way for a while." 

Fair calendar:


4-6 p.m.; 4-H Food Judging

5:30 – 6:30 p.m.. 4-H & Open Woodworking Check In

6 – 8 p.m.; Sheep & Meat Goat – Check In

6 – 9 p.m.; Rabbit Check In

6 – 9 p.m.; 4-H & Open Rocketry and 4-H Robotics Judging

6:30 – 9 p.m.; Swine – Check In & Weigh In – All swine must be on the grounds.

6:30 p.m.; 4-H & Open Woodworking Judging

6:45 p.m.; 4-H Small Engines & Electricity Judging

7:00 p.m.; Parade – Downtown

7 – 9 p.m.; Early Check in for Open Class (except Dept. F – Crops, Garden & Floriculture)


8 – 10 a.m.          Exhibit Check In (Check Dept. for specific check in times.)

8 – 10 a.m.          Exhibit Check In – Family & Consumer Sciences Division

8 – 10 a.m.          Open & 4-H Floriculture, Horticulture & Crop check in

8 – 10 a.m.          Sheep and Goat Weigh in

8 – 11 a.m.          4-H & Open Poultry Check In

8:30 – 10 a.m.    4-H Arts & Crafts & Fiber Arts Judging

10 a.m. – noon  4-H Beef Check In

10:30 a.m;  4-H Projects Displays, Posters & Notebook Judging; Open Family & Consumer Sciences Division Judging

11:00 a.m.; 4-H & Open Judging begins for the following:  Crops, Garden, Floriculture & Forestry

Noon ;  4-H Booths and Banner Judging; 4-H Photography Judging

12:30 p.m.; 4-H/FFA Poultry Show; 4-H Entomology Judging

2:00 p.m.;  4-H Rabbit Show

4 – 8 p.m. ; 4-H Foods Silent Auction

5:30 p.m.;  4-H/FFA Swine Judging

8:00 p.m.; Newton Saddle Club Rodeo  – Adults $10-Children $5 (6-12)-(Children 5 & Under FREE) 


9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.   Harvey County Market in the Park 

9:00-11:00 a.m.  Ag Fest, Athletic Park  *Know Your Farmer – Know Your Food* Harvey County Farm Bureau

9:15 a.m.;  Pedal Pull Registration

10:00 a.m.; Pedal Pull starts

10a.m. -2 p.m.; 4-H Project Talks and Demonstrations – Commercial building

10:30 a.m.; Registration for Turtle Races, Athletic Park 

10:30 a.m.; Ag Fest – Dairy Presentation 

11:00 a.m.; Turtle Races sponsored by Harvey County Farm Bureau

11:00 a.m.; Cornhole Tournament Registration

1:00 p.m.; Cornhole Tournament begins

3:00 p.m.;  Charity Tug O War / Mud Volleyball Tournament – Next to demo pit

3:00 p.m.; Dog Costume Contest / Bucket Calf Costume Contest

5:00 p.m.; 4-H/FFA & Open Sheep Judging, Showmanship and Sheepless Sheep Showmanship; 4-H/FFA & Open Breeding Meat Goat followed by 4-H Market & Showmanship 

8:00 p.m.; Newton Saddle Club Rodeo  – Adults $10-Children $5 (6-12)-(Children 5 & Under FREE) 


8:00 a.m.; Farm Bureau / MKC Breakfast (tentative)

9:00 a.m.; Church Service – Band Shell – The Gathering

9:00 a.m.; 4-H/FFA & Open Dairy Goat Show; 4-H/FFA & Open Dairy Show

9 am – noon; 4-H Project Talks and Demonstrations – Commercial building

10:00 a.m.; 4-H Bucket Calf Interviews

Noon;  4-H Bucket Calf Show

1:00 p.m.; 4-H/FFA & Open Beef Show; Youth Horticulture Judging

6:30 p.m.; Demo Derby  — Adults $10 • Children $5 (11 & under) • Kids 3 & under are free 

8:00 p.m.;  Non-Sale Livestock released


8:30 a.m.; Poultry & Rabbit Cleanup

9:00 a.m.; Livestock Judging Registration

9:30 a.m; Livestock Judging Contest

11:00 a.m.; Round Robin Practice

1:15 p.m.; Registration for Barnyard Olympics

1:30 p.m.; Barnyard Olympics

4 – 6 p.m.; All other exhibits released

5:30 p.m.; Round Robin Showmanship Contest

6:00 p.m.; Watermelon Feed 

7:00 p.m.; 4-H Livestock & Champion 4-H Food Auction