State Fair 'triples down' on big-name outdoor concerts

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Nebraska State Fair is expecting its 2 millionth visitor this year in the Grand Island site it has called home for the past seven years.

Fairboard member Bob Haag of Indianola joined Executive Director Joseph McDermott and Marketing and Sponsorship Director Shaun Schleif on their annual promotional swing through Southwest Nebraska, but they had no trouble finding something new to talk about for Nebraska's big party.

This year, the fair will "triple down" on the success it found with last year's outdoors Keith Urban concert, with Thomas Rhett and Jordan Rager in "Sounds on the Grounds" on Aug. 26, Landy Antebellum and Cam Aug. 27 and Train Aug. 28. All three concerts are at 8 p.m., $40 and $60 tickets available at etix.com.

Six-dollar "convenience fees" will get you in to see John Anderson on Aug. 31, Christian artist Chris Tomlin on Sept. 1, Toto on Sept. 3 and YouTube sensation Charlie Puth on Sept. 4.

Twenty-four high school and four NAIA college volleyball teams will take part in the Bill Marshall Volleyball Classic, Aug. 26-27. High school matches will go to the Nebraska Sports Hall of Fame.

Officials hope to break the 1,000-entry barrier in the State Fair Marathon, the "fastest, flattest course in the nation" that's also a Boston qualifier.

The Nebraska State Fair 1868 Foundation is investing some $50 million into Fonner Park facilities, including the recently-built $14 million Nebraska Building, but this year, $750,000 has gone into much-needed repairs to the outdoor arena.

Nearby, a tent will feature a competition for about 40 Nebraska-brewed craft beers, with plenty of chances for sampling.

Local firefighters and linemen will have their chance to compete for prices at the Scott Firefighter Combat Challenge and Lineworkers Rodeo, and visitors will have their choice 60 booths of state fair food.

Families will have a chance to venture into an interactive prehistoric world, complete with a giant wooly mammoth, native to Nebraska, thanks to the Omaha Children's Museum presentation of "Dinos: the Big Dig."

Of course, those are only the tip of the entertainment iceberg, with grounds entertainment ranging from medieval knights to Robocars, BMX freestyle bikes, aerial acts, magic shows and many others.

Visit http://www.statefair.org for more information, to purchase tickets, plan your visit or download a mobile app.

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