Burwell, Nebraska Community Rallies with Goal to Rebuild Bigger & Better

Burwell, Nebraska is home to one of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo and last week, a tornado tore through the central Nebraska town leaving wreckage in its path.

Winds reached speeds of 100 mph and in around half an hour, the grandstands and arena in Burwell was almost completely destroyed. Despite the trials set before them and the cancelation of their Bulls and Broncs event, Burwell is on track to host Nebraska’s Big Rodeo in July.

President of Nebraska’s Big Rodeo, Jess Helgoth said that the National Weather Service suggested severe hail, damaging winds and a possible tornado. At 2:45 PM CT, the alarms went off and Helgoth waited the storm out in his pig shed before he got a text that the fairgrounds and grandstands were gone.

“…So basically, when it stopped at my house, I just kind of flew to town, didn’t even think about what had happened at my place and sure enough… that’s the grandstand damage,” Helgoth said.

There is only one area of the grandstand that is still standing and the ticket stand that took a hit was going to be 100 years old this summer.

Helgoth said the storm was a fast moving and lasted only 20-30 minutes. The committee is meeting with engineers and adjusters this coming week to get a game plan in place to keep going. The end game is to build it back however, to keep this year’s rodeo in play, they are looking at portable bleachers.

“Burwell, obviously, 101 years, it means a lot to the community of Burwell. When you get 20,000 people that come through there in a four-day span, obviously it means a lot to the business and the people… you come back to Burwell to see your friends. We’re a small 1200 count community and we’ll rebuild bigger and better,” Helgoth said.

Click here to donate and help Burwell, Nebraska rebuild their fairgrounds.