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Guest Post From Erica Bolton Carley

Whether you prefer acrobatics, squirrels, kids’ duck-calling contests, showing alpacas, seeing a hypnotist, or eating a fried peach, there’s something for everyone at the 2019 Nebraska State Fair (August 23-September 3!)

With 27 pages of scheduled activities, get yourself to Grand Island!

Get I get a Halleluiah for Cheap Music!

The Nebraska State Fair has made concert-going a huge win for you! They have $79 bundles which gets you fair admission and into 4 concerts – it truly doesn’t get any cheaper than that! Pick the rock, hot country, red dirt, or specialty concert packs with names like Maren Morris, Brett Eldredge, and Little Big Town! Those are great prices for any one concert, let alone a whole group and the chance to hit the fair all day prior!

Moo-ve over! We’ve got a Show to Watch!

State Fair Nebraska

And we can’t talk the State fair in Nebraska without talking animals! Wow!

Perhaps the most unique option to attend is Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel!

You won’t see that anywhere else, friends!

Of course, the pig races and the Amazing Dobermans ought to be a good time, too! However, as a diehard livestock girl, I can’t help but mention there are horse, hog, sheep, cattle, goat, llama, alpaca, poultry, and rabbit shows that will fascinate anyone watching!

Trophy, Please! Contest Winners take all!

Perhaps the most unique thing you can do at any fair is watch the contests and the Nebraska State Fair has some fab ones for you to participate in or simply just enjoy! They’ve got a kids’ duck-calling contest, a beard contest, a cream puff and cheesecake contest, and a jumbo corn-dog-eating contest just to name a few. Those kind of things just can’t be reproduced, or seen, anywhere else!

How Do You Do that Thing You Do?

State Fair Sheep Sheering
State Fair Sheep Sheering

Demos are another hit of the fair. Where else can you learn to shear a sheep, learn kumihimo (a Japanese braiding technique), how to extract honey, how to use antique machinery, how to make a pie, or paint suncatchers?


The variety can only be found at a state fair, and specifically, the Nebraska State Fair.

Stick it in – Fried and Yummy Fair Treats!

But we can’t talk Nebraska State Fair without talking food! As a fair expert, I can tell you that fried peaches on a stick and the fried cookie dough balls are Nebraska things you don’t want to miss! I can also tell you that the UNL ice cream stand in the 4-H exhibit building has the best mint-chip on the grounds!

I, also, say you can’t go wrong with turkey legs and corn dogs! If you want to hit where all the locals do, find your way to Cactus Jack’s. They pride themselves on burgers with toppings you won’t see anywhere else!

But if you’re looking for adventure, grab the tram to the east side for some alligator and a free show!

Watch A Live (animal) Birth!

If you’re bringing the kids (or just enjoy the miracle of life or even livestock), be sure to check out the birthing barn!! See animals give live births and touch babies like you never have before!

See It All From Above

Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Probably my favorite way to see the fair when I’m hot, tired, and too lazy, is to get on the sky jack. See all there is to see in an aerial view including the free parade, the Fairabration fireworks, and the upcycled lawn ornament décor winners!

Insider Hints

Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

Now for all the things they don’t tell you!

  • If you are going and leaving during normal hours, park outside the grounds and take the shuttle to the fairgrounds. It’s much faster and cleaner for your car!
  • Speaking of shuttles, the fair has added a new tram service from the parking area and to certain locations in the fairgrounds. Be sure to make sure you get on the right color route for your tour and yes, it’s free with admission!
  • I also highly recommend using the Nebraska State Fair website! It has all the things you don’t want to miss like the maple bacon mini donuts and presale tickets to buy everything cheaper!
  • If you are true Nebraskan, you need to hit the Nebraska building. Cabela’s and Nebraska Games and Parks offers wildlife activities for kids. It’s all free and fun!

How To Save Money At the Nebraska State Fair

Photo Courtesy Nebraska Tourism

$20 Wristbands for Kids

Kids will also love the $20 ride wristbands. (Just don’t tell the fair-goers from other states – they will definitely be jealous!) Purchase before midnight on Thursday and you can get: a Carnival Wristband – $20 to ride all day – Buy online or at any Pump & Pantry to save 30%!

Get a “Mega Pass”

Going to be there the whole fair? Get a Mega Pass which is $75 to ride all day, every day. Buy online to save 80%

Go On a Date Night

Treat your date to a Date Night Pack for $66 and it covers 2 Carnival wristbands, 2 gate admissions, and 2 food vouchers!

However you choose to see the fair, with itinerary in hand or wandering aimlessly, keep your eyes open and your phone ready for that selfie!

I promise there will be things you’ll see and simply say #OnlyAtTheNebraskaStateFair!


Thank you to Erica Bolton for this guest post!

Erica Bolton Carley is the Executive Director for the Western Iowa Development Association and would encourage you to check out Pottawattamie County, Iowa sometime soon!  Although she spent 20 years as a teacher in Nebraska and is an avid livestock enthusiastic, her current focus is to have readers come see what’s happening at www.WIDAIowa.org

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