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Nebraska State Fair kicks off Aug. 25

This year’s fair includes food, concerts, competitions, exhibits, demonstrations and more.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

July 6, 2023

2 Min Read
The view from the sky tram at Nebraska State Fair of crowds and tractors
BIG-TIME FAIR: The view from the sky tram at Nebraska State Fair shows the crowds and activities going on around the livestock arenas over Labor Day weekend in 2022. Curt Arens

The Nebraska State Fair began the same year as Nebraska Farmer magazine — 1859 — eight years before Nebraska became a state in 1867. At first, it was a territorial fair, held in Nebraska City.

Brownville and Omaha both hosted the state fair before it moved to its longtime location in Lincoln in 1901. It wasn’t until 2009 that the fair landed at its current location at Fonner Park in Grand Island.

This year’s fair — dubbed with the theme “Whatever Your Flavor” — runs from Aug. 25 through Labor Day on Sept. 4, with 4-H livestock competitions beginning on the first weekend of the fair and FFA contests taking place over Labor Day weekend to close the fair out.

Nebraska Lottery Concert Series

Along with great outdoor exhibits and activities, fairgoers are always interested in the Nebraska Lottery Concert Series, this year featuring the legendary Oak Ridge Boys at 2 p.m. Aug. 28 at Heartland Events Center, followed by comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 outdoors at Anderson Field; Christian Grammy award-winning artist TobyMac at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at Anderson Field; Rock quartet Bush at 7 p.m. Sept. 1 at Anderson Field; country singer and songwriter Lee Brice at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 2 at Anderson Field; and technobanda group Banda Maguey, on stage at 9 p.m. Sept. 3 at the Pump and Pantry Party Pit.

2023 Dirt Series

If a little dirt in your eyes and roar in your ears is what you are looking for, seek out the 2023 Dirt Series at the fair, beginning with the Ultimate Bullriding Tour on Aug. 25. The ATV Big Air Tour is on Aug. 26, followed on Aug. 27 by the Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull. Over Labor Day weekend, the Ultimate Bullfighters event will be on Sept. 3, and the State Fair Demolition Derby is on Labor Day, Sept. 4.

You won’t want to miss the Bill Marshall Volleyball Classic, the Battle of the Bands and all of the other entertainment and activities planned for this year’s fair. Wade Shows Carnival will be on the midway.

Last year’s state fair grew significantly in attendance. At 287,367 guests, attendance was up nearly 8% in 2022 over the previous year, with the Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend providing the largest crowds.

This year’s fair figures to be another big event. There will be plenty of fair food, fun, competition, ag exhibits, 4-H and FFA, equine and so much more over 11 days at the end of August and beginning of September.

Learn more at

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State Fair

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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