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Nothing More Nebraskan

Governors Countdown

There’s Nothing More Nebraskan Than the State Fair

By Governor Pete Ricketts

August 1, 2022

 We’re less than a month away from our state’s biggest annual celebration—the Nebraska State Fair.  From August 26th through September 5th, Nebraskans from across the state will gather to share all that Nebraska agriculture has to offer.  It will be the 153rd time we gather for this time-honored tradition.  Last year, the State Fair attracted more than a quarter-million attendees to Grand Island, including visitors from 10 countries and 43 states.  This year, we’ll be ready to welcome even more guests looking to get a taste of the Good Life.

 At its core, the State Fair is a fantastic celebration of Nebraska’s number one industry.  Agriculture is the heart and soul of what we do here in our state.  It accounts for roughly 20 percent of our economy and is a powerhouse for job creation—one in four Nebraska jobs are connected to agriculture.  The State Fair gives us an opportunity to appreciate the full scope of agriculture in Nebraska and how it continues to shape our rich heritage.

Fairgoers are given an experiential way to learn about agriculture through the State Fair’s interactive Raising Nebraska exhibit.  Attendees can drive a combine simulator, get their hands dirty in the various soils that nourish Nebraska’s crops, and learn how farmers use technology to irrigate fields.  Additionally, a milking parlor at the State Fair gives attendees a firsthand look at dairy farming.

The fair also allows our next generation of Nebraska ag leaders to exhibit livestock through FFA and 4-H.  They will show their skills caring for animals, helping fair attendees to better understand the importance of livestock agriculture to Nebraska.  But as agriculture advances, so does the fair.  This year, students will also participate in a robotics competition to demonstrate the many uses of technology in modern agriculture.

 Beyond agriculture, the State Fair also showcases Nebraskans’ creativity.  Cooks will enter homemade pies, jams, and relishes into culinary contests.  Backyard farmers will compete to see how their flowers and vegetables stack up against the competition.  And sculptors, quilters, and woodworkers will display their handiwork.  These friendly competitions are an opportunity for Nebraskans to take home the coveted blue ribbon.

 The State Fair is also Nebraska’s premier family-friendly festival.  It boasts the state’s biggest carnival, featuring rides and games for all ages.  And, there’s an abundance of entertainment options throughout the fair’s 11 days.  Attendees can watch everything from BMX stunt riding to ultimate bullfighting to pig racing.  On August 27th, fans can even cheer on runners competing in the Nebraska State Marathon, a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon.

Each year, the State Fair brings world-class musicians to Nebraska.  Country music artists Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum) will perform on September 3rd.  Lady A is a three-time winner of the “Vocal Group of the Year” from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association.  Mexican band Los Tucanes De Tijuana, winners of a Latin Grammy, will take the stage August 31st.  A full list of this year’s concerts is available here.

 Of course, it wouldn’t be the Nebraska State Fair without plenty of good food!  This year, more than 60 food stands will offer all sorts of flavorful eats.  My personal favorite is the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Beef Pit, which serves mouth-watering Prime Rib dinners and slow-roasted beef.  The UNL Dairy Store will once again serve up delicious ice cream.  And there will be no shortage of funnel cakes, nachos, and fried foods on a stick.

 True to the Nebraska Way, our State Fair always pays tribute to our veterans.  On August 30th, there are several activities planned to honor our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.  At 3:00 PM, there will be a veteran’s program in the Heartland Event Center.  The day’s parade will also salute veterans for their service to our country.  Additionally, Patriotic Productions will display their Nebraska Remembering Our Fallen exhibit throughout the entire fair in the Nebraska Building.  It commemorates the brave Nebraskans we’ve lost in military service since 2001.

 As we look forward to the 2022 State Fair, we’re also investing in its future growth.  This spring, the State allocated $20 million of federal ARPA funds to improve infrastructure at the State Fair’s home in Fonner Park.  The upgrades will ensure our State Fair has first-class facilities for Nebraskans to enjoy for generations to come.

 Nearly 1,000 volunteers serve a combined 12,000+ hours each year to make the State Fair a success.  Thank you to the many Nebraskans who generously give time to ensure fairgoers have a safe, fun, and memorable experience.  If you have interest in volunteering this year, please visit statefairvolunteer.org.

 I hope you’ll make plans to bring your family and friends to the 2022 Nebraska State Fair.  You can check out all the fun that’s in store at statefair.org.  If you have any questions about the State’s support of the fair, or any other topic, please contact me at pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2244. 

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