Four community partners including the Nebraska State Fair, Fonner Park, the Grand Island Chamber of Commerce and Grand Island Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau have joined together to create an organization to market and promote the year-round use of the State Fair livestock buildings at Fonner Park.
Known as the Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority (GILCA) the group’s primary mission will be to market the facilities to prospective livestock, agricultural and other shows that may benefit from use of the $42 million dollar facility at Fonner Park for their shows. The use of these buildings will in turn create an economic boon for Grand Island as show participants eat, sleep and shop while in Grand Island.
According to Nebraska State Fair executive director, Joseph McDermott, “The creation of GILCA has been a painstaking two-year effort to identify the specific needs to run such a program and how best to reach out to national shows and programs interested in a state-of-the-art facility located in the center of the nation. Everybody can meet in the middle.”
In 2015 alone, the livestock complex is home to the National Alpaca Show and Sale, American Boer Goat Association National Show, the North American Junior Red Angus Event, the American Shorthorn Association Junior National, the Junior National Hereford Expo, and the Nebraska Hereford Association Annual Meeting and Sale as well as several livestock breeder auctions.
“This is what the buildings were originally designed to do, Cindy Johnson, president of the Grand Island Chamber said, “Each of the buildings designed for the State Fair has far more life to them than the 11 days of the fair each year. I believe people expect a return on those buildings, and GILCA is providing the avenue from which it is happening. If people are lining up at check-out, then we know we’re successful.”
The Nebraska State Fair buildings include the Five Points Bank Arena, a sheep and cattle barn, a swine barn with arena and the Pinnacle Bank Expo Center. Alone or together, these buildings create an environment to accommodate national shows and sales no matter their size.
Brad Mellema, executive director of the Grand Island/Hall County CVB says, “When the livestock buildings are busy, Grand Island is busy. They are poised to generate positive growth and become a real community identifier. The GILCA partnership is a team approach to finding new business for our community."
The Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority will oversee a staff comprised of individuals from the Nebraska State Fair and Fonner Park to attract shows to the area, and see to each group’s needs from set up through tear down of each event.
Hugh Miner, President and CEO at Fonner Park says, “Looking down the road, GILCA is also talking to the National Dexter Cattle Show, the Simmental Junior National Show and the Charolais Junior National Show. Bids have gone out for the Gelbvieh Junior National Show and the Limousin Junior National Show among others. Fonner Park is pleased to be a part of an organization that promotes livestock and through working together, get things done.”
The partnering entities forming GILCA will contribute financially to underwrite the shows coming to Grand Island as well as work on marketing to groups and organizations that will benefit from holding their events in Grand Island.