Nebraska State Fair Will Include 4-H & FFA Events, No Admission Fee

The 2019 Nebraska State Fair (Becca Costello, NET News)
June 30, 2020 - 11:29am

The Nebraska State Fair will be free this year, but could offer only livestock and static exhibits. 

Gov. Pete Ricketts was on hand in Grand Island Tuesday to make the big announcement: "This really is exciting for us to be able to say the Nebraska State is going forward.”

The State Fair Board voted to allow youth 4-H and FFA exhibits this year, but most other activities are canceled, including all indoor concerts.

Fair board president Beth Smith says they’re still considering what else to include during the week-long event.

"We’re hopeful to have delicious fair food, Raising Nebraska exhibits, state game and parks activities, vendors, local music, and taverns," Smith said. 

Many popular attractions will depend on the status of the coronavirus pandemic when the fair begins in late August.

Hall County, where the fairgrounds are located outside of Grand Island, may be in Phase 4 of re-opening by then.

Smith says that would open up the possibility of hosting the carnival rides, motor sports, and Husker tailgating events.

"Safety is our top concern," Smith said. "We’ll make sure if we have a carnival that it can be done safely."

But money is also a consideration. Smith says the carnival is an important revenue source for the fair, which will be even more important without admissions revenue this year.

The Nebraska State Fair has faced controversy and financial uncertainty over the past few years. Attendance last year dropped by more than 30,000 people, and the fair lost more than a million dollars, prompting job cuts at the end of the year.

The State Fair will run from August 28 to September 7.

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