Weekly Column

I can think of no better way to experience Nebraska than through a visit to our state fair. From the tractor pull to the incredible food and the project showcase run by 4-H and FFA, the Nebraska State Fair brings the best of our state to Grand Island for 11 days each summer. It was a pleasure to visit this year’s fair and talk with many Nebraskans while taking in all the fair has to offer. 

The fair’s traditions have a long and storied history. In fact, the state fair is older than Nebraska itself: The first fair was held in 1859, when Nebraska was still a U.S. territory.

There was a nine-year gap until the next fair was held in 1868, but it has brought Nebraskans together every year since then, with the exception of a few years during World Wars I and II.

Not even COVID-19 could keep the fair from operating last year. They had to scale some things back, but they found a way to make it work.

Even after all these years of success, this year’s state fair was one of the biggest ever. Fair staff did the math, and the 2021 State Fair offered visitors 4,425 hours of fun things to do and see. It’s impossible to do everything you may want to each year, so I’d like to tell you about some of my favorite attractions. 

No visit to the state fair is complete without a stop at the Nebraska Cattlemen Beef Pit. Be sure to come hungry, because this is a great place to enjoy a delicious prime rib sandwich or BBQ beef sandwich. Our farmers and ranchers work hard every day to feed our state and the world, and this is their chance to show off their product for thousands of fairgoers.

After a stop at the Beef Pit, I like to indulge in my favorite state fair treat: a pineapple whip. But there are countless other delicacies to try, too, like funnel cakes, or UNL ice cream. You really can’t go wrong.

While I was at the fair this year, I also met with Midwest Dairy, an association which represents nearly 6,000 dairy farm families across 10 Midwestern states. It was wonderful to hear about the great work the organization did in partnering with schools and food banks to help ensure that school age children and low-income families had food to eat during the toughest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. We also talked about how dairy producers in Nebraska and across the country are promoting sustainability as they care for their livestock.

Afterwards, I had the chance to stop by the KRVN and NTV booths and catch up with members of our local media to discuss issues that are affecting agriculture, our state’s number one industry.

I think this year’s state fair was a great success. After the events of last year, it was so good to see everything back in full swing.

I look forward to spending the remainder of the state work period traveling other parts of our state, talking with Nebraskans before the Senate reconvenes on September 13. And I look forward to visiting Grand Island for the fair again next year.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.