Livestock Facilities, Parking Among Proposed Improvements at State Fair, Following Public Hearing

Oct. 6, 2021, 1 p.m. ·

A sky ride extends from the front right of the picture to the far left. Many people explore the fairgrounds below the ski lift.
People on a sky ride, giving them a bird's eye view of the 2019 Nebraska State Fair. (Becca Costello, Nebraska Public Media News)

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The Nebraska State Fair planning committee held a public comment listening event this week in Grand Island.

They heard ideas about building expansion and infrastructure from the public. They received input just in time for the state legislature’s hearing on the $1 billion in American Rescue Plan spending.

Bill Ogg is the executive director of the state fair, and said some proposed improvements to the fair’s campus at Fonner Park in Grand Island have sorted themselves to the top.

“The improvement of the equine stabling, particularly for Fonner Park Racing,” he said. “The expansion of livestock exhibition facilities, to accommodate those major larger shows, and the Nebraska State Fair, as those activities expand and grow.”

Ogg said the public offered some baseline suggestions to improve the capabilities of Fonner Park. It was an important reminder for the state fair, Ogg said.

“The utility of surface drainage from rain storm(s). The lack of hard surface parking,” he said. “They reinforced how important it is that we look at those very necessary...but it’s those basic services that are so important for hosting any event.”

Ogg said adding more concrete or asphalt parking wouldn’t take out any trees. While losing grass space at the park, he believed getting more paved ground would spark efforts to plant more trees, something Ogg said the fairgrounds don’t have a lot of. He said more hard surface parking and trees would improve the aesthetic of Fonner Park.

For those who couldn’t provide input this week, a survey has been sent out for the planning committee to consider. October 15th is the final day the committee is taking responses.