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Back in the saddle

A Bladen barrel racer will compete at the Oregon Trail Rodeo in Hastings on Sunday.

Hannah Rupprecht will ride her horse Jake around the cloverleaf pattern, in search of the fastest time and a winning check.

Rupprecht grew up in Missouri, the daughter of rodeo competitors, and competed in barrel racing events throughout high school. In college at the University of Missouri, she earned a degree in agriculture education leadership with an emphasis in sales and marketing, graduating in 2012.

She moved to Kearney that year for a job opportunity and met Lukas Rupprecht. The two married and moved to the Rupprecht ranch in Webster County.

They added two little cowboys — Rodey, 2, and Ransom, who is 13 months — to their home, which kept Rupprecht out of competition during the times she was pregnant.

But before the boys were born, and after Ransom came along, she’s found time to compete at regional rodeos and the pros, as well. She qualified for the Nebraska State Rodeo Association and the Mid-States Rodeo Association Finals four years ago, before she and Lukas started their family.

This week, she’ll be at the Hastings rodeo on Jake, a horse whose reputation precedes him, she said.

“Everybody loves watching Jake run. So many people come up to me and say, he’s so big, he takes your breath away. I think people know my horse better than they know me.”

Jake is exceptional at running barrels but sometimes has a mood swing while he’s being warmed up.

“He bucks when I warm him up,” Rupprecht said. “He doesn’t buck me off, but when I make a few circles on him he bucks to be playful. Every great horse has their quirks.”

Rodeoing is part of her life, Rupprecht said, and something she enjoys immensely.

“I am who I am professionally, because of horses and rodeo. Beyond winning and doing well, it’s the skillset you learn, being on the road, the tenacity, the grit, the go-for-it type attitude. It gives me a lot of good skills I’ve used in a professional setting with my career.”

This will be Rupprecht’s third time competing at the Hastings pro rodeo.

This year is the 29th annual Oregon Trail Rodeo. Sessions are planned for Friday, Saturday and Sunday on the Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S. Baltimore Ave., starting at 7 p.m .on Friday and Saturday and at 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets online to eliminate the need to social distance in line. Tickets range from $10-$20 and are available online at, at the fair office, and at the gate.

For more information, visit the website or call the fair office at 402-462-3247.

Library programming to remain online for forseable future

Hastings Public Library will stick to online programming in the near future, including new offerings that are intended to build on the success of online programming during the summer.

“Definitely first and foremost safety was at the top of our minds,” librarian Kristy Hruska said. “We don’t want to bring people back to the library for programming, especially because a lot of our programs tend to bring in a lot of people.”

Social distancing requirements would’ve made it too difficult to have in-person programs at this time.

“We’re hoping as soon as things become more safe we’ll be able to do that again, but for now with the limited capacity of the rooms, and the safety of the large quantities of people we tend to get for our programs, we determined it was best for now to hold off,” she said.

In September the library is starting a live series with Nebraska authors, talking with different ones each month.

The first author is Carson Vaughan who wrote “Zoo Nebraska.” More information about the series will soon be available on the library’s website and Facebook page.

“I’m really excited about the adult author talks,” Library Director Amy Hafer said. “Author talks are something adults have asked for and book clubs have asked for. Authors are really excited to do it right now when they can’t get out and travel and promote their books. It’s a great way for them to promote their books and readership without leaving the comfort of their homes.”

The library also has programs like Take and Make through the PIXLab. Library staff members create kits for adults to take home, and then there is an interactive Zoom video to show how they can put it together.

The PIXLab still will be by appointment only. There are no certification classes at this time.

The library also continues to provide STEAM videos for Tweens and Teens.

“Our online programming and online services have been doing really, really well,” Hruska said. “We’re very happy about that. We’re glad we’re still able to meet people’s needs virtually. We have had lower numbers in person, but the people who are coming in are very happy with being able to check out materials in person again from the collection.”

The library reopened on July 6 after more than 100 days of closure with relatively calm conditions.

Hafer wrote in her director’s report for the library board meeting on Tuesday that since reopening, the library has averaged about 65 people per day. That is considerably lower turnout than a normal July, which would be about 400 patrons per day.

The library requires face masks and social distancing.

Online programming for the library, on the other hand, has been successful. That programming gathered more than 9,000 views in May, 7,500 views in June and more than 9,500 in July.

Hafer said those numbers have been a pleasant surprise.

“I have to remind Kristy, she was disappointed in June that it was lower than May,” she said. “I said, ‘Yeah, but you’re still getting 7,000 people. That’s amazing.’ We’re a little disappointed in the number of people that are here in person. It’s certainly not what we’re used to seeing, in the summertime especially. We’re used to 400 people a day keeping us busy. That’s something to adjust to and get used to, but the number of people we’re reaching online is fantastic.”

Some of the board members had feedback that they love the online programming and did a lot of the projects.

“They found it really entertaining and fun to do,” Hafer said. “I think we found new followers that way. People found some things to do that if they maybe didn’t come in person before, because they were stuck at home during the pandemic they were able to do something new and try something different. We’re really pleased with the way we reached a lot of people at home this summer.”

When the library does reconvene in-person programming, adult book clubs and story times may be the first to come back.

The library will survey story time families and book club attendees to evaluate their readiness to come back.

Those programs have smaller crowds than other library programs. Interaction and community are also important.

“We know a big part of the library is that community connection,” Hafer said. “Part of it is being able to interact with other kids. We want to make sure if we start to provide those things in person again that it’s something our community is comfortable with.”

If the story time and book clubs do come back, they would be modified to allow for health measures such as social distancing. Participants also would have to register.

“If we have 10 families that are interested in that, we can start to do baby steps toward that goal,” Hafer said. “If the community’s not ready for that, we won’t push it, either.”