I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the Nebraska State Fair until I was a freshman in college, living in Lincoln. In those days, the University of Nebraska Collegiate 4-H Club ran a foodstand in the old 4-H building. I was wrangled into working many hours at the foodstand, which was the big fundraiser for the club.
But after a few days at the fair, I was hooked. I enjoyed the 4-H and FFA exhibits and all the excitement and pageantry of the state fair. However, since the fair moved to Grand Island, I haven’t had the opportunity to attend. That all changed this year when my wife and I decided to surprise our daughters, who have been begging us to go for years, by hopping in the car Saturday and driving to Grand Island without them knowing any of the details of our trip. Our younger sons stayed home with a babysitter, so it was just Mom and Dad and the girls on this trip, a rarity in our family.
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Both girls had exhibits that qualified at county fair for exhibition in Grand Island, so our first order of business was finding their exhibits to see how they had done. The size, scope and flurry of activity at the fair shocked our daughters at first. They had never seen so many people in one place at one time before.
We hit all of the highlights of a fair visit in Nebraska. We watched some of the 4-H and FFA livestock shows, visited the birthing pavilion and pet “Tiny,” Nebraska’s largest steer. We took a ride on the Sky Tram, walked the midway and enjoyed ice cream and “build your own” slushies. We stopped by the “GROW Nebraska” booth, visited with folks at the corn, soybean and wheat growers’ booths and strolled through rows of antique tractors.
The facilities are first rate and the entertainment was top notch. In a year plagued with fires and drought, worries and challenges on the farms and ranches around the state, farm folks at the fair were smiling and enjoying a little respite from the tough times of this past summer. For us, our first trip to the State Fair at Grand Island was complete success, and we all traveled back home with a lot of fond memories of our day together.
Be sure to watch www.nebraskafarmer.com and our September print issue of Nebraska Farmer for news, information and tips on meeting the challenges of drought and a preview of upcoming Husker Harvest Days. Your best online resource for drought information is the Farm Progress drought site at www.DatelineDrought.com.