Nebraska State Fair announces $5.4M project

Farm Forum

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) – The Nebraska State Fair has announced plans to erect a $5.4 million building that will provide exhibition space and administrative offices for the State Fair staff at Fonner Park in Grand Island.

State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott told The Grand Island Independent that construction on the Nebraska Building will begin within a month and should be completed by the end of the year.

The building will be erected just inside the fair’s main entrance, just north of the Exhibition Building. It will have 54,000 square feet of exhibition space on the ground level and 10,800 square feet for offices on the upper level. The building also will house a museum with 144 years of fair information and artifacts.

Exhibitors that will move from the Exhibition Building into the Nebraska Building include the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, Grow Nebraska, Nebraska Food Products and the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Most of the building’s cost will be financed by Nebraska-owned banks, McDermott said.

The Nebraska Building will be owned and maintained by the Nebraska State Fair all year, which differs from the arrangement with the operators of Fonner Park, he said. Fonner Park is the site of horse racing, the Hall County Fair and other events for 10 months of the year. On Aug. 1 the State Fair takes control of the other Fonner Park buildings it uses and returns control to Fonner Park on Sept. 30.

McDermott said the State Fair has been talking to groups that might be interested in leasing exhibition space on the ground floor of the new building for those 10 months of the year when the building won’t be used for the State Fair.