Grand Island State Fair is a great idea

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The plan to move the State Fair from Lincoln to Grand Island is a win-win situation for the University of Nebraska and Grand Island -- plus an especially big win for outstate Nebraska.

The problem is relatively simple; the property is much more valuable to the University of Nebraska for its research park than it is for the relatively limited use as State Fair Park.

The State Fair will be much more valuable to Grand Island than it was to Lincoln, which is already host to dozens of other major events.

And, it will be a relative bargain to everyone involved. The University will pitch in $21.5 million, state taxpayers $5 million, Grand Island will contribute $8.5 million in private donations and public money, and the fair board will contribute another $7 million.

We feel greater Nebraska is doing well to pull such a major statewide attraction out of one of the state's two major population centers. The move of the Nebraskaland Days celebration to North Platte years ago is a good example of the positive impact such a celebration can have on a smaller community.

And, we agree with the consultant, who believes the fair will actually draw more people in Grand Island (an estimated 320,000) than it did in Lincoln (300,000 last year).

Agriculture is a statewide industry, but those of us in greater Nebraska live it more directly than do our friends in Lincoln and Omaha.

Moving the annual event a few hours closer to the geographic center of the state is a good idea.

We hope the Legislature sends LB1116 to Gov. Heineman's desk for approval.

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