News Column

Entertainment, education part of Nebraska State Fair

August 3, 2014

By Julie Blum, Columbus Telegram, Neb.

Aug. 03--A lineup of popular returning events and crop of new ones will be part of the Nebraska State Fair.

The annual celebration held in Grand Island, slated for Aug. 22 through Sept. 1, will have an array of activities.

"It's all about education and family fun. That's what the fair is about, providing value to Nebraskans," said Joseph McDermott, state fair executive director.

A newly built Nebraska Building on the fairgrounds will house two additions to the entertainment this year. The $5.8 million facility that took a year to erect will have a permanent display from the Nebraska Game and Parks and interactive museum.

Game and Parks will have a 6,500-gallon mobile aquarium stocked with native Nebraska fish, wildlife display, waterfall and meandering stream.

The University of Nebraska and commodities groups will be putting up the interactive museum called Raising Nebraska.

"It is an educational exhibit that teaches us about our food from farm to fork. It is going to be very technology driven," McDermott said.

Raising Nebraska will include a center pivot program, grain bin theater showcasing videos of agriculture production, combine simulator and video board of the state that educates about the livestock and crops grown in different zones across Nebraska.

Another new addition is the Nebraska State Fair Marathon, which is a Boston Marathon qualifying event.

"We bill ourselves as the fastest, flattest course in the nation," McDermott said.

Last year a half-marathon was held during the fair. It has been expanded to include a full marathon, half-marathon and 5K event. Hopes are to have 1,000 people register for the marathon.

The addition of new, unique events is intended to make the fair appeal to more people.

"We're looking to bring events to the state fair that will bring a different demographic to a state fair," McDermott said.

The fair has been held in Grand Island since moving there from Lincoln in 2010. Attendance increased following the move. Last year, 333,000 people came through the gates.

Other highlights of the fair are the Nebraska High School Rodeo Association Showcase of Champions Rodeo, draft horse shows, demolition derby, tractor pulls and various entertainment.

There will be several musical and entertainment acts taking the stage, including headliners "America's Got Talent" winner Terry Fator on Aug. 29 and country singer Brantley Gilbert on Aug. 31. Tickets for those performances are $30 each.

Entrance into some of the entertainment acts that used to be free will change this year. Instead of using wristbands for entrance, there will now be a $6 convenience fee to reserve a seat to see Chris Young, STYX, B.J. Thomas, Michael W. Smith and Karmin.

McDermott said people often had to wait in line to get wristbands and then wait in line again to get into the shows. The new system will allow people to buy a ticket online and get a reserved seat. That will cut out the wait time.

Tickets for all the concerts can be bought by going to the Nebraska State Fair website at A full schedule of events also is available online.


(c)2014 the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.)

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Source: Columbus Telegram (NE)

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