There is a new face at the Custer County Fairgrounds, albeit a familiar one. Toby Kinderknecht officially began his duties as Custer County Fairgrounds Manager Monday, March 18.
While he has never actually lived in this area, Broken Bow is hardly new to Toby. Back in the 1980s he was a regular at the horse track here, working first as an assistant horse trainer and then head trainer.
Toby will be taking over for previous Fairgrounds Manager Leon Meyer, who announced his retirement in January.
Toby was born and raised around Norton, Kan., growing up in a small rural community. He says he has always had an interest in ranching and farming, and particularly loves horses.
His first visit to Broken Bow was in 1983, when he worked as an assistant horse trainer and came to the Custer County Fairgrounds horse races with his dad. He returned to the track each year after that, through 1987.
After high school, Toby attended Dodge City Community College in Kansas majoring in horse science. He took his first “real” job in Oklahoma training horses, but the call of ranch life was just too strong.
He soon returned to the family farm where he worked with his dad.
The same year he made his first trip to Broken Bow, Toby married his high school sweetheart, Lisa. The couple will celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary this July.
In 1989, Toby and Lisa moved to Stapleton where Toby had gotten a job as a ranch hand. They have moved around a number of times while Toby has worked various jobs.
“I have basically lived a hired hand’s life,” Toby laughs.
He and his wife currently live in the Gandy/Stapleton area, where Lisa works at the Bank of Stapleton. Toby says he is excited about his new job, and is looking forward to a job that requires more thinking and less labor.
While a big part of the job as Fairgrounds Manager is booking events and keeping the calendar organized, Fair Board President Steve Horn says one of Toby’s most important roles will be meeting people and keeping the customers happy. Toby is also responsible for maintaining the grounds and facilities.
Horn admits that many local citizens may not be aware of how many events take place at the Fairgrounds each year, including three heavily attended youth rodeos. Participants in these events come from all across the U.S., staying in local hotels, eating at local restaurants, and fueling up their big horse-trailer-pulling pickups.
The revenue brought in from the Custer County Fairgrounds is a huge boost to the local economy, and the Fairgrounds Manager has a lot to do with making sure the events run smooth and people are pleased enough to return again the following year.
It is that kind of challenge that has Toby most anxious to begin his new job.
“I really enjoy meeting a challenge - that is one of the things that drew me to this job,” says Toby. He says right now he is experiencing eagerness mixed with a little nervousness as he begins his new venture.
Toby and Lisa have two children and one granddaughter; their son lives in Stapleton, and their daughter and granddaughter in Colorado. Toby says he enjoyed his years as a horse trainer, but Lisa is the real superstar of the family. A true rodeo girl, Lisa has won many championships throughout the years - including winning the first ever 250-yard race ran at the Custer County Fairgrounds track. Their daughter followed in Lisa’s footsteps, winning several championships as well - both on the same horse. Toby says the 30-year-old horse is still alive.
Toby says his experience in past jobs will be a benefit to him as he begins in his new position at the Fairgrounds.
“I’ve learned something in every job I have ever had - you just have to learn to take the good and leave the bad,” says Toby. “I will try to do a good job.”
He says it is important to have a willingness to learn and a good attitude - and to never be afraid to ask for advice when needed.
“A wise man has many counselors.” - he quotes.
If you are interested in reserving space on the Fairgrounds for a special event, want more information, or have any questions, contact Toby at 308-870-2493.