MITCHELL — A celebration of vintage, home-built rat rods, returns to its roots at the Scotts Bluff County Fairgrounds in Mitchell this weekend for the eighth annual High Plains Riot.

“We’ve grown so much over the years that we needed more space,” said event organizer Jeremiah Gardner. “Some of the things we do, like the burnouts, work better outside the city limits.”

Rat rod burnout sessions in Gering last year raised enough smoke to bring out the fire department.

Gardner was also very complimentary for all help the Weborg 21 Centre provided as hosts the past three years.

“We’ll miss that atmosphere because they helped us to really grow,” he said, “but what we need now is to be at the fairgrounds.”

Some of the improved amenities include indoor parking for some of the more expensive vehicles. A camping area is available for participants.

A 50 by 50-foot concrete slab has also been poured on the north side of the fairgrounds as a place for burnouts during the show. Burnouts are scheduled for 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. for anyone that would like to register.

Gardner explained the High Plains Riot grew out of the annual car show in Mitchell’s Centennial Park during the town’s Concert in the Park event.

“The Mitchell Chamber asked me to take over their car show in 2012 because it wasn’t successful for them,” Gardner said. “I didn’t want the last car show in Mitchell to disappear.”

Starting with about 15 participants, the show has grown to bring in about 200-plus participants from across the country. Some of the states represented include Washington, Maine, Texas, Arizona, and even a group from Canada.

“Our biggest group comes from Minnesota, where Rat Rod Magazine is published,” he said. “They come down I-80 as a caravan.”

Participants will start to gather about noon on Friday at Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering.

“Everyone has told me how much they love the monument and the history we have here,” Gardner said. “At about 1:30 p.m., we’ll drive as a group through Mitchell Pass then on to the fairgrounds.”

Friday evening will be a time for participants to relax and get acquainted over a charity barbecue and some live music from local musicians.

The fun shifts into high gear early Saturday morning with registration at 7 a.m. A swap meet is ongoing for the day, along with bounce houses for the kids, coloring contests, games and volleyball. There will also be food vendors on site.

“With the cost of a lot of events, I’m trying to keep this affordable for families,” Gardner said. “I want to provide an atmosphere where it costs very little to enjoy a lot of stuff going on.”

The one charge for visitors at High Plains Riot is a dollar a car for parking. The Mitchell High School junior class is raising money for its prom celebration.

“High Plains Riot isn’t like other car shows, it’s about families,” Gardner said. “We accept everything. A lot of people bring their rat rod projects that are still unfinished. We want people to see what’s going on and maybe get the inspiration to build their own rat rod sometime.”

Gardner described rat rodding as “a more affordable way to build a hot rod.”

For more information on the High Plains Riot, visit its Facebook page.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at

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