Husker Harvest Days brings millions to local economy

Local4 News at 5
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 7:53 PM CDT
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WOOD RIVER, Neb. (KSNB) - Now that the State Fair is over, area businesses can rest but only for a minute as another popular event is right around the corner. Grand Island Chamber of Commerce President, Cindy Johnson refers to the summer months as “Christmas” for area businesses.

That’s because of events like Husker Harvest Days, which has been in the Tri-Cities for over a decade, contributes around $9 million each year to the local economy. It’s the world’s largest totally irrigated working farm show, featuring combines in operation, haymaking and other various farming activities.

The event gives farmers a chance to compare equipment. Farm Progress National Events Director, Matt Jungmann said it’s the Western Corn Belts Big Farm Show and its economic impact can be felt throughout Grand Island.

“That’s attributable to the direct impact on the establishments such as hotels, restaurants, retail, gas stations and services,” Johnson said.

Johnson said exhibitors spend at least a week in Grand Island before the event with vendors buying greenery for their lots which also boosts the local economy.

She said Grand Island is a community centered around agriculture with several companies involved in food and product production. She added, in the state of Nebraska, one-fourth of jobs are directly tied to agriculture.

Jungmann said they want to have a deeper impact on rural communities this year, by addressing some issues.

“There are a lot of challenges out in the rural communities,” Jugmann said. “Whether it’s hunger or it’s internet connectivity, there’s a lot of things happening out there that need work and so a lot of those things health screening and all those kids of subjects are addressed in one way or another here at the show.”

Jugmann said throughout the grounds there will be activities targeting rural communities. He said every industry has its signature show and this is the one for farmers.

Husker Harvest Days originated from a group at the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce about 50 years ago. Those members felt that it was important to recognize and support the agriculture producers in the area.

“Husker Harvest Days has evolved into this premiere event where people can come and see the latest and greatest in farm equipment livestock management,” Johnson said. “They can learn about crop production, they can see things that are that are new to the industry.”

Johnson said they are fortunate to have Husker Harvest Days annually because other farm shows are every other year. She added, that makes it incumbent for leaders of Grand Island to ensure it stays an annual event, and to help it be successful.

Husker Harvest Days is also doing its part to help the community.

“All of our food is prepared and served, all the food stand are operated and run by a nonprofit organization, most of them being school booster club,” Jungmann said. “So you know they come out here for three days and work hard and sell a lot of food and make a lot of money and that goes right back to those school districts.”

Jungmann said there will be five school districts operating food stands, and those funds helps schools in variety of ways. Chief will now have a bigger footprint, with their All-American Farmstead.