Ask UNK graduates about their Kearney experiences and one of the most consistent themes you will hear is the high quality of interaction that they enjoyed with the town itself. Kearney is a proud community that comes together throughout the year in celebration of life through an array of annual events.
Annual Migration of Sandhill Cranes
Every year nearly 500,000 Sandhill Cranes—approximately 90 percent of the world’s population—converge on the Kearney area. This is a spectacular sight that attracts visitors from around the world.
UNK Band Day
Organized by the Director of Bands at UNK, the UNK Band Day is an annual parade and competition that draws High School bands from across Nebraska. Approximately 40 bands, numbering anywhere from 20 to 200, participate in this event. They go through a pre-parade inspection and subsequently, are judged on the basis of their marching performances.
The annual UNK Homecoming is a much-awaited event in all of Kearney. The week-long festivities range from fun events like the Mini-Rodeo, The Spirit Competition, and Lip SYNCH, to inspiring speeches by distinguished visitors, to a Lopers game. This week of UNK pride is rounded off by the Homecoming parade in downtown Kearney.
National Antique Tractor Pull
This annual event features more than 250 antique tractors that converge on the area to compete. Over the course of two days, the antique tractors attempt to pull vehicles even bigger than they are, while hundreds of onlookers from around the Midwest gather to watch.
Cruise Nite in Kearney takes place every summer and brings nearly 1,000 antique cars, hot rods, classic cars, and motorcycles together to cruise the local streets. The four-day event often attracts more than 10,000 people, and features a “Show & Shine” event, BBQ at the Archway, and the Hot Rod reunion drag races.
Gateway Farm Expo
This annual agricultural event began in 1969 and is still going strong. The Expo attracts agricultural figures and business interests from around the country who come together to witness new innovations and products.
These are just a few examples of the events that bring people together in Kearney every year. In addition, special events take place throughout the year, including concerts, museum exhibits, sporting events, plays and theatrical performances, at fun venues that include the Buffalo County Fairgrounds, the Tri-City Arena, the UNK Health and Sports Center, and the Kearney Community Theatre.