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Our Town McCook: Kiplinger Arena

Pure Nebraska
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:16 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:30 AM CDT
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MCCOOK, Neb. (KOLN) - The dream of a local rancher lives on as an indoor activity center for everything from 4-H events to barrel racing.

We caught up with Red Willow County Fair Manager Jiles Bowman to discuss the impact of the Kiplinger Arena on Our Town McCook. The arena was built by a local rancher named Tom Kiplinger. “He wanted a facility where it was affordable for everyone to participate,” Bowman said. “He actually put up this building 18 years ago. These buildings do not cost the taxpayers anything. They are all self-sufficient. There is actually a foundation that all of his money went into. They allow so much per year to help us with maintenance.”

Tom Kiplinger not only built the Kiplinger Arena. There are other buildings at the fairgrounds named after important people in his life. The Alice Kiplinger Arena is named after his mother. The Charlie Barn is named after Charlie Collins who was the head of maintenance at one time. A stall barn is named after another employee named “Luke”. We are told the “Trudy Arena” is named after Tom Kiplinger’s girlfriend at the time.

Groups like 4-H, FFA and others are actually able to use the arena at no charge. “The horse club, the 4-H cattle, they are all in here. They come in for no money,” Bowman said.

As you might imagine, the arena has a big impact on the community of McCook. “It’s not only this arena, but the facility itself,” Bowman. “We host many events. That’s everything from weddings, to roping, to all of those different events that bring those people in. They use our hotels, they eat at our establishments, people are spending money when they come to our events.”

Garrett Nokes is another name associated with the arena. He was an ambassador for the arena, and for rodeo sports in the region. He was nationally known for his involvement and success in rodeo. He recently passed away. “Garrett was amazing for all equine sports,” Bowman said. “He was a big player in getting the local college to have a rodeo team. His legacy will never die here.”

So, when you are visiting McCook, you might want to pay a visit to the Red Willow County fairgrounds, and if something is happening at the Kiplinger Arena, you might want to take a peek inside.

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