ELWOOD — Since 1982 the Gosper County carnival has been hosted by the county’s fair board and in effect, made it one of the most unique fairs throughout the state.

Rick Gennrich is currently on his third year as Gosper County fair manager but is no stranger to the ins and outs of fair. He was on the Agriculture Society board and did much of the leg work for the fair.

“I would find the entertainment, go around town to find more donations and volunteered during the fair,” Gennrich said. “My job now is to make sure the fair runs smoothly. I like to do the work. I do what I can to keep learning and moving the fair forward.”

This year Gosper County is proud to host the Jessica Karr band on Thursday, July 26. The band will provide the free entertainment from the Civic Center stage. Gennrich said Karr is a talented local singer who performs thoughout central Nebraska.

Band members include Jessica Karr, lead vocals, Mark Humphrey, lead guitar, Aaron Barns, guitar, Bobby Wilson, bass guitar and Larry Cottingham, drums.

According to the band’s social media page, Jessica said “I sing from my heart and put my everything into every song in hopes that the audience will feel what I’m feeling.” She grew up singing country music but can rock with the best of them. “I like a wide variety of music but I would describe my style as contemporary country or southern rock,” she said.

In 2000 she joined a country band called Swing Shift. In 2001 she helped form the classic rock band called Risky Business. Risky Business toured Nebraska until 2009 when the band split up. In 2013 Jessica joined Slingshot. From that success she went on to form the Jessica Karr Band and has been touring the Midwest ever since, according to the band’s Facebook page.

Gennrich said at statewide fair meetings, everyone asks about the Gosper County fair and their home owned carnival.

Gennrich is not alone in making the fair happen. Over 200 volunteers are needed each night.

Setting up the rides has been made easier by the construction of a new building on the fairgrounds that houses the merry-go-rounds. The building was built in 2015 and has proven very useful to the Elwood Lions Club.

“Before the building it took us forever to set up rides, especially the merry-go-round,” said Gennrich, “Now it takes a group of 20 people around four hours to put it all together.”

The carnival usually grosses $36,000 over the three days that it runs. This money then goes toward scholarships the Elwood Lions Club awards and to other activities it sponsors.

Scholarships of $100 from the Elwood Lions Club are available to any volunteer seeking upper education as long as they have helped with the fair. “They can be from Elwood, Eustis, Lexington or even Aurora,” said Clark. “This scholarship is awarded during the second semester.”

It means a lot to have this carnival home run,” said Gennrich. “It’s great to have everyone helping…its growing by leaps and bounds each year.”

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