For its second year in its new Grand Island home, the Nebraska State Fair will introduce more interactive activities while keeping a strong focus on science, careers and healthy living, says Kathleen Lodl, assistant dean for Extension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
"As we enter our second year in the new facility, we are looking forward to an even better and bigger fair with more opportunities for young people," she says.
The fair runs Aug. 26-Sept. 5 near Fonner Park and Stolley Park roads in southeast Grand Island.
This year, a state fair iPad app will enable fair goers to view contest results via their iPads or kiosks throughout the fairgrounds. The app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store online by searching for Nebraska Extension 4-H.
More interactive 4-H exhibits and activities are also one of the highlights for this year's fair, adds Shane Potter, UNL extension educator and 4-H program coordinator. Each day, one topic area, such as science, plant science, and food and nutrition, will be featured as the focal theme in the 4-H Exhibit Hall, Potter says.
For example, one science exhibit youth can take part in is the 2011 National 4-H Science Experiment, Wired for Wind. The experiment helps youth understand the physics of wind and how it can be used to conserve energy. "Instead of being a spectator, they can actually take part in a 4-H activity," Potter says.
During the second weekend of the fair, various departments from the University of Nebraska's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will be involved in activities to promote opportunities at UNL. "We want fair goers to see how 4-H is preparing youth for the future."
Another highlight of the 2011 fair will be a horticulture judging contest. UNL extension educator Elizabeth Killinger said youth will identify plant material, rank landscape plants or produce from best to worst and take a general knowledge exam on plants.
Killinger says she hopes to leave out the plant specimens for the public to examine so that they can test their knowledge too. "It's also about educating the public and making them better consumers," she adds.
Lodl encourages fair-goers to look past the events and appreciate how youth have developed as they created the exhibits. "The focus is not just on the exhibit but rather the work they've been doing leading up to the exhibit," she says.
In fact, the youth may even get jobs linked to their 4-H interest. "Many things they learn in 4-H and showcase at the state fair launches them off to a career," Lodl says. "They're really exploring whether they want to have a career in science, horticulture or nutrition in the future."
In addition, the UNL Mobile Beef Lab will be making its debut at the State Fair this year, Lodl says.
Elsewhere at the fair, the UNL Food Processing Center's display in the FFA 4-H Building will offer samples and information from more than 20 Nebraska food companies. Items will include popcorn, pickles, seasoning blends, honey, pie, coffee, sauces and marinades, jellies and meats.