MITCHELL — The eighth annual High Plains Riot is gearing up to be a weekend of motorcycles, hot rods, rat rods and customs as fabricators from across the country show off at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds in Mitchell.

The riot will take place at the Aug. 16-18 and features events like camping, concerts, a swap meet, burnouts and a car show.

“Changing the venue really let’s us grow,” said event creator and coordinator Jeremiah Gardner.

Gardner said he is hopeful the new location will help the event to continue growing. It will also bring the car show back to Mitchell.

Gardner opened Gardner Roads Kustom in Mitchell a couple of years ago where he builds motorcycles and hot rods. In 2014, he put his name into the national build-off for Rat Rod Magazine and a motorcycle magazine. He was one of 12 people drawn to build a motorcycle. They had a $3,000 budget and 30 days to build it.

“The budget kept it to where you couldn’t spend a lot of money, so it helped the little guy compete with the big guys,” Gardner said.

He built a Steampunk motorcycle and won the competition. Since then, his involvement in the community inspired him to save the last car show in Mitchell.

As a Mitchell Chamber of Commerce member for the past five years, Gardner took on the task of saving the annual car show that was dying. The previous year only showcased seven cars. The first year after he took over, the car show attracted 15 cars, which happened to be 15 of his friends. He also built custom trophies out of spare parts and handed out three awards.

Following his national success in the national build-off, the event continues to grow. The past two years’ events have attracted an increasing number of participants and spectators, which Gardner hopes will continue as they offer more events throughout the three days.

The riot features two different build off events, the official 2019 RatRod charity build off and the original patina build off.

“This year there are ten build off teams featured,” Gardner said. “Twenty people signed up for the build off, but only ten made it last year. We have 54 people signed up for the original patina build off.”

Similar to last year, there will be several caravans from Minnesota, Washington and Texas arriving for the riot on a national cruise in. To kick off the event as people arrive in the valley, Gardner said the tentative plan is to cruise from Gering over Scotts Bluff Monument to Mitchell ahead of the swap meet and concerts.

“We’re going to group up in Gering and we’re going to cruise,” Gardner said. “Everybody who can cruise is going to line up somewhere and cruise the monument on the back way to Mitchell.”

On Saturday, the public is invited to visit the fairgrounds as a variety of show cars and rat rods (purrties and dirties) are on display, inside and outside of the fairgrounds. There is a $1 spectator parking charge as the Mitchell High School junior class raises money for prom.

“They wanted to come out and sell food to make money, but I told them what I need was somebody to park cars,” Gardner said. “That will help both of us because I will let them charge $1 per car for parking and that is going to the junior class to help pay for the prom. It’s a neat way of doing positive for a positive.”

Western Nebraska Community College is bringing a 402 kit Cobra replica, which people will be allowed to purchase tickets before it is given away. The High Plains Riot is the last event where the public can purchase tickets.

Car owners are invited to participate in both the burnouts and car show. The entry cost is $20.

Since the fairgrounds does not have a slab of concrete, Gardner said one is being poured for the burnouts.

“If you go around the north side of the fairgrounds, they have an equipment shed and a grass field by the pins, we’re pouring a 60-by-60 foot pad for burnouts,” Gardner said. “Now people can do cookies.”

“It’s going to have that vibe where it’s laid back and chill,” Gardner said.

The riot begins Friday, Aug. 16 with the charity BBQ and free will donation, followed by a concert. Saturday, Aug. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the car show. There will be burnout sessions at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. People will have to sign-up for the burnout. Awards will be from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the High Plains Riot, visit The High Plains Riot Facebook page.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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