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Nebraska State Fair has something for everyone

Curt Arens Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island
ALMOST FAIR TIME: The Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island is one of the most attended events in the state every year, but for 4-H and FFA members, it is also a great competition.
The 11-day event will feature livestock shows, entertainment and exhibits.

It’s easy to remember the youth livestock show schedules for the Nebraska State Fair, because 4-H livestock competitions take place the opening weekend of the fair, and FFA events are on the closing weekend.

For this year’s state fair, running from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, 4-H livestock events and competitions begin Aug. 27 and go through the 4-H Final Drive on Aug. 28 at Five Points Bank Arena.

Open class livestock shows and cattle dog trials take place through the weekdays, with FFA livestock shows and showmanship contests beginning on closing weekend and carrying on through Labor Day, Sept. 5, finishing with the championship selection and parade of supreme breeding champions.

“The Avenue of Breeds is located this year in the Grand District of the state fair,” says Ray Massie, Nebraska State Fair director of marketing. “This educational experience will give people of all ages an up-close interaction with many different animals raised on the farm — including beef, sheep, goats, llamas and horses — all on the avenue.”

Over the years, excessive rainwater has offered numerous challenges for the fairgrounds and state fair activities and parking.

“The state fair was awarded $20 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to help fix these issues,” says Bill Ogg, Nebraska State Fair executive director. “We are in the process of getting the governmental approvals required to get construction started, and make the user and guest experience more comfortable in the years ahead.”

That’s entertainment

As far as entertainment, the Nebraska State Fair never disappoints, with more than 4,000 hours of entertainment over the 11 days of the fair. This year’s Nebraska Lottery Concert series has the Happy Together Tour 2022 on stage at 2 p.m. Aug. 29 at Heartland Events Center.

Los Tucanes De Tijuana take the stage Aug. 31 at Anderson Field. The following day, Sept. 1, country music star Brantley Gilbert hits the same stage. Jeff Dunham will entertain on Sept. 2.

Lady A with Priscilla Block will close out this year’s fair concert series on Sept. 3. Except for Happy Together, all shows begin at 7:30 p.m.

That’s not all for entertainment, with many of the festivities already included in the gate admission. “We have must-see thrill shows this year, including Olympic-level divers soaring from more than 80 feet in the air into a 6-foot pool of water,” Massie says. “The Flying Fools show plays multiple times on all 11 days of the fair.”

He also touts the Ma’Ceo Circus, which will play five shows Sept. 4-5 at the Heartland Events Center, marking the first time the circus has come to the state fair in Nebraska.

Massie says another can’t-miss event is the thrilling man-vs.-beast battle of Grand Kubota Ultimate Bullfighting, taking place this year inside Five Points Bank Arena. Wade Shows will be at the state fair this year, bringing new rides and equipment to entertain guests.

At the gate

“Nebraska State Fair is proud to be in Grand Island,” Ogg says. “We are offering our Hometown Pass program this year, where tickets to the fair are only $3 on Aug. 29 to Sept. 1. There are lots of other fair discounts, including carnival wristbands, which are only $26 until the start of the fair. After July 4, gate tickets can be purchased at a $2 discount at any Pump and Pantry location until the fair opens on Aug. 26.”

“The state fair is the largest attended entertainment event in the state every year,” says Bob Haag, chairman of the Nebraska State Fair Board. “On behalf of the board, I want to invite everyone to this year’s fair. I think we have something for everyone, right here in Grand Island.”

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