Nebraska State Fair leaders celebrate opening the 2020 fair

Published: Aug. 29, 2020 at 2:23 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - The Nebraska State Fair held the opening ceremony Saturday morning and the people who have been working hard to make it happen this year reflected on why they put in the extra effort.

Nebraska is one of the few regional fairs that decided to stay open in some capacity this year. The State Fair Board has been working around a strict budget and they can finally see their work pay off.

“I think people would be shocked at how much work it is to put on the fair and we do it with a relatively small staff. They’re incredibly hard working and dedicated to the mission of the fair,” Board Chair Beth Smith said.

The first weekend of the fair 3,500 4-H students from around the state are on the grounds to show their cows, sheep and many other animals. The kids were the main reason why the fair is still going during the pandemic. Board members recognized they are the main reason for the fair, to celebrate their achievements in agriculture. The students spend all year raising and training their animals.

“I’m so pleased we have the Nebraska State Fair, the fair board decided not to cancel,” Governor Pete Ricketts said. “We’re taking steps to make sure we’re slowing the spread of the virus but it’s an important event for Nebraska. Agriculture is the heart and soul of what we do here in our state. The state fair is a celebration of agriculture.”

Next weekend the focus will be on FFA students and thousands will arrive at the fairgrounds. This is the first year of the new Executive Director Bill Ogg and the board members said despite the restrictions and challenges he has made his mark on the fair.

“I think the focus on the kids and the Agriculture focus is really telling of Bill Ogg and what he cares about,” Smith said.

There are still food vendors and attractions for the public to come and enjoy at the fair during the week as well. The fair runs until Sept. 7. Parking is free and there are more parking options closer to the grounds for anyone to take advantage of.

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