In 1868, a year after Nebraska was granted statehood, the Nebraska State Fair became the place where farmers and ranchers came together annually to show off prized produce and animals, delicious pies or canned goods, and beautiful homemade handiwork.
This year, the State Fair runs August 25th through September 4th in Grand Island. The Nebraska State Fair this year is a special one for many reasons. First and foremost, the 2017 State Fair is an official event of Nebraska’s 150th birthday celebration, one of several events throughout the state honoring our heritage, citizens and diversity.
Special Sesquicentennial activities at this year’s Nebraska State Fair include: A mobile children’s museum called “Truckin’ Through Nebraska”, an old fashioned Chautauqua, historic re-enactors, a blacksmith, and an old time medicine show. The Grand Island community has also joined in on the fun by decorating more than 30 hay bales supporting the Nebraska State Fair’s 150th birthday theme.
While the State Fair has evolved over the years, its heart and soul still centers on agriculture. Every day at this year’s fair there will be a display featuring nearly 200 antique tractors and ag machinery demonstrations. And, of course, there are the traditional 4-H and FFA Market Animal Champion competitions.
Raising Nebraska, featuring interactive and informational ag displays, is one of the fair’s must-see exhibits. This year, “The Amazing Egg” has been added to the Raising Nebraska exhibit. Through this display, visitors will discover how intricately eggs are structured, they will see an extreme, close-up look at the surface of an egg shell, and they’ll get to manipulate a virtual egg yolk. This is especially timely considering the rapid expansion of the poultry industry in Nebraska with the opening of the new egg hatching facility near Grand Island and a chicken processing plant being constructed near Fremont.
One of my favorite “fair” traditions is the fun food. There will be classic fair foods like fried cookie dough, fried Ho-hos, fried pineapple, and corn on a stick from Manny’s. There will also be new treats, such as Redneck Ruben Burgers, Bacon Cinnamon Rolls, and Lolliwaffles. And, of course, my personal favorite: No State Fair visit is complete without a Cattlemen’s Beef Pit prime rib sandwich!
Other “can’t miss” attractions include: the Draft Horse shows, High School Rodeo, a 70-ton sand sculpture, Sinbad’s High Dive Show, an aerial motorcycle show, a Veteran’s Day celebration and more. I’m also excited to join cattlemen from across Nebraska to judge and recognize the best bulls in the state during Thursday’s Supreme Champion Beef Cattle Drive.
I’m always impressed with the many private/public partnerships that the State Fair encourages. One such partnership comes from Mid-Plains Community College. Mid-Plains will be bringing their grain bin extraction safety trailer to the Firefighters Combat Challenge. The Omaha Children’s Museum will also present “Adventures at Sea: A Prehistoric Nebraska.”