The new Nebraska State Fair is off and running in Grand Island. We celebrate a historic milestone for our state as the 2010 State Fair opens in a brand new location with new facilities and a community ready to roll out the welcome mat. This year's celebration marks the 141st Nebraska State Fair.
Construction to expand Grand Island's Fonner Park began last summer. In 13 months, it has been transformed into the new home of the Nebraska State Fair and a place worthy of this historic institution that is a tradition for many Nebraska families. Organizers and local volunteers have been working hard to make Grand Island's first State Fair an outstanding event.
As contractors were putting the finishing touches on brand new buildings, volunteers have filled dozens of planters with flowers to add color to the expanded Fonner Park fairgrounds. Community groups have donated and installed new banners. High school volunteers have spent the last week cleaning up the fairgrounds, and approximately 500 volunteers are on hand to ensure Grand Island's first State Fair is a success.
Local groups, attractions and businesses are adding a personal touch to Grand Island's inaugural fair. The Stuhr Museum is hosting daily demonstrations and events in the kid zone. Fairgoers will see combines manufactured in Grand Island up close during ride-alongs held almost daily. The Grand Island Multicultural Coalition and United Way are presenting a day-long Festejo Latino during opening weekend.
While new buildings outfitted with modern sound and lighting are spread across the site, they were designed with details of the original fairgrounds in mind. Early 1900s photographs served as a reference for designers as they planned brick and stone details for the new buildings. These details ensure the State Fair retains the atmosphere of an institution that predates Nebraska's statehood and has lasted for 141 years.
Some annual favorites are back as well. On Thursday, Sept. 2, Nebraska's Largest Classroom will be in session with State Fair exhibits providing a field trip opportunity attracting 2,500 K-6th graders and teachers from more than 80 public, private and home schools across the state.
Labor Day weekend begins the annual Veterans Day Celebration. On Friday, Sept. 3, all military personnel, veterans and auxiliary members will receive free gate admission with their military ID. The day begins with a special recognition of Korean War veterans during a 9 a.m. event at the Heartland Event Center.
In addition to concerts, midway rides, games, and food vendors, the Nebraska State Fair celebrates the business and educational accomplishments of major industries in the state, with displays featuring the latest farm equipment, new technologies and agricultural products. Our State Fair is an excellent example of a modern fair experience, incorporating technology upgrades from wireless Internet to new video display boards.
Everyone involved with the State Fair has worked hard to ensure this inaugural celebration is a memorable one. I know the Grand Island community is excited to show off the progress and welcome you to the new home of the Nebraska State Fair. I hope to see you at the State Fair.