GRAND ISLAND—The Cornhusker state is preparing to celebrate its 150th state fair during the next week and a half in Grand Island. Nebraska State Fair’s Executive Director Lori Cox said this year’s 150th “great big birthday party” will feature 1,165 events in just 11 days from Friday, August 23 to Monday, September 2.
In an interview with KCNI/KBBN, Cox said in addition to 150 years as a whole, the Nebraska State Fair is also celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the move from Lincoln to Grand Island. Nebraskans and out-of-state travelers are encouraged to visit Fonner Park and experience everything from ag education to hot country concerts.
“We are stewards of this state fair. The people own this state fair so we want to make sure that we stay to the traditions and heritage as well as bringing new and exciting entertainment features long into the future so we have some great planning ahead,” Cox said.
New programming has been incorporated into this year’s fair to focus on families with little kids and teenagers, according to Cox. Petal tractor pulls and combine rides, the carnival, countless education activities, vendors, and stage performers and concerts will fill the fairgrounds from morning until night with activities for all ages.
Always aiming to improve and include hands-on opportunities, Cox said another focus on this year’s fair has been the equine entertainment with competitions, classes, Grand Kubota Roughstock Rodeo August 23 and 24, Nature Hill Polo Match on Sunday, August 24, and Dusty Trails horseback riding and horse education, among others.
“In order to support our equine exhibitors we really wanted to bolster that [equine] evening entertainment,” Cox said.
If you come to the fair for the music, you will not be disappointed! Twelve shows are scheduled for 11 days and feature a variety of hot country, red dirt, hard rock, and more. As part of Older Nebraskans Day on Monday, August 26 The Drifters, Cornell Gunther’s Coasters, and The Platters will perform at 11 a.m. Trace Adkins will close out the state fair at 5 p.m. on Monday, September 2 as part of the day celebrating our nation’s veterans. Other artists include Brett Eldredge, Granger Smith, Maren Morris, Little Big Town, and many more.
Of course you can’t forget about the food, preferably deep fried for many fairgoers! Get your corndogs, gourmet mac and cheese, prime rib sandwiches, and pineapple whip as you explore the fair. Ticket bundles and packages are still available as well as gate admission deals at your local Pump and Pantry.
Going back to one of the cornerstones of any state fair is the agriculture and livestock exhibitions. Lori Cox says something near and dear to her heart is all of the young kids who never give up and work tirelessly to learn the stewardship of how to take care of animals.
“Come and celebrate the kids. Come and join us for the grand drives as we watch those 4-H and FFA kids walk up to accept that hand slap on the hip. It’s just an incredible experience,” Cox said.
Patrons are asked to use the free parking shuttle service provided due to heavy moisture levels in the parking lots.
Each shuttle runs direct from the location to the State Fair — no stops to express lane your way to the Fair! As a special thank you to guests for using this service, the state fair will provide one free gate admission to the 2020 State Fair, good Aug. 31 – Sept. 3, 2020.
Conestoga Mall, 2 Pick Ups: 13th Ave. & Webb Rd. and North of Sears
Shopko: 2208 N Webb Rd.
Sam’s Club: 1510 N Diers Ave.
Central Community College: 3134 Hwy 34
Walmart South: 3501 S. Locust Street
Shuttles will start one hour prior to gate opening and will run continuously until midnight. Check back for daily schedule updates.
The Nebraska state fair runs Friday, August 23-Monday, September 2. Visit www.statefair.org or call 308-382-1620 to learn more.
Other highlights from this year’s fair:
1. Let’s start the 150th celebration in style – Friday, Aug. 23, 5 pm at the CHI Health Stage will include show-stopping entertainment by local musicians, show choirs and more. See you there!
2. Getting around the Fair has never been easier thanks to trams, shuttles and free parking. A “red line” and “green line” trams will circle both ends of the Fair. Rides are free. Tractor trams will again be available for rides to and from the parking areas and free shuttles are available to the Fair as well.
3. Food! A must-try this year is the Dilly Dog – a hot dog inside a crunchy dill pickle and dipped in corn batter and fried golden brown. And don’t forget about the maple bacon mini donuts pineapple whip and hillbilly deluxe burger. Come hungry!
4. Grand Marshalls – if anyone deserves recognition it is this group of people. The Grand Marshal program honors individuals who have made significant contributions within their county fair communities. Each day the Fair will honor someone.
5. The State Fair Marathon will take place this Saturday, Aug. 24. You won’t want to miss this race – the fastest and flattest course in the country. The marathon is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon.
6. ARCY – known for his paint splashed style of large-scale art has created murals and permanent large scale works across the globe. Find ARCY at the Fair Center.
7. Grand Champion Reunions will take place Aug. 26 -29 in the Barn Bar, each night at 6 pm. Aug. 26 – 1960s, Aug. 27 – 1970s, Aug. 28 – 1980s and Aug. 29 – 1990s. Great stories and memories will be shared.
8. 150 cupcakes will be available to the first 150 kids who come in and sign up for the Kids Cupcake Decorating Contest on Sat. Aug. 24. Ribbons will be awarded based on decorations and age groups. Speaking of cake, on Friday, Aug. 23, 7:30 pm at the CHI Health Stage will be a Birthday Cake Eating Contest.
9. Be sure and check out the N 150 Stepping Stone Showcase – one stepping stone from each county will be on display in the Raising Nebraska Building.
10. Live polo match – one of the world’s oldest known sports is coming to Nebraska State Fair. The Nature Hill Polo Match will take place on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 1 pm at Sports Field.