The newly constructed Thompson Foods Open Air Arena in the East Entertainment Area is one of the highlights of the 2016 Nebraska State Fair. With a new grandstand which will seat 750 and premier lighting, events such as the Foundation Quarter Horse Show August 26 & 27, Appaloosa Show August 27 & 28, Reining Cow Horse Show August 29-31, Women’s and Men’s Ranch Rodeo September 2 & 3, Carriage Driving Show September 3 & 4, the Cowboy Mounted Shooters Competition September 2 and the High School Rodeo September 5 will be featured in this new modern arena.
On the west end of the Fairgrounds, some of the very best livestock and horses in the country will be featured at the Fair, which runs from August 26 – September 5. Leading off the Fair the first weekend will be Draft Horses, Dairy Cattle, Open Class Sheep, Dairy Goats, Texas Longhorns, Boer Goats as well as Llamas and Alpacas and Open Class Poultry, Waterfowl and Pigeons. The Draft Horse Hitch show has become one of the premier shows in all of the United States. There will be 3 performances; Friday night August 26, Saturday night August 27 and Sunday afternoon August 28. These powerful animals are hitched to a wagon and perform in tandem against other teams for trophies and premium money. Friday, September 2 is the Draft Horse Pull where teams of horses try to pull a sled with varying weights. Tickets for these 4 performances may be purchased by contacting the Fonner Park ticket office. The Open Class Sheep Shows will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Following a year being absent because of the avian flu problem, the Poultry Show is back and will be held on Saturday, August 27. Dairy Cattle shows will be held on Friday and Sunday; Dairy Goats, Texas Longhorns, Llamas and Alpacas will be shown on Saturday and Sunday, and the Boer Goats will be exhibited on Sunday and Monday, August 28 and 29. Also on Sunday, the 4-H Dog Show will be held in the Heartland Event Center.
Monday and Tuesday, August 29-30, will feature some of the very best working cattle stock dogs in the country. These mostly border collie dogs will come from Colorado, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Idaho as well as Nebraska. They have a set course in which they will drive the cattle around the Arena, through different obstacles and then into a trailer. This is a timed event. There will be over 65 dogs perform the first day and the top 20 will then work in the Midwest Regional Semi-Finals Monday evening. On Tuesday, the dogs will perform again with the top 10 dogs going to the State Fair & Midwest Regional Finals Tuesday evening. It is amazing to watch how man/woman and dog work together as a team.
In addition to the events in the Thompson Foods Open Air Arena, there will be an array of horse shows beginning the first weekend in the Thompson Foods 4-H Arena. The Appaloosa Show will be held August 27 followed on August 28-30 by the Open Class Team Penning and Ranch Sorting events. There will be two days of Miniature Horse Show activities August 31 and September 1 followed by the Morgan Horse Shows September 2 and 3. On September 4 the Nebraska Classic Team Penners will be on exhibit.
Again this year one of the highlights of the 2016 Fair will be the Bader & Sons Cutting, Sunday evening, September 4 and the High School Rodeo, which will be held on Monday, September 5 beginning at 7:30 am. The rodeo will feature Bronc Riding, Bareback Riding, Bull Riding, Calf Roping, Team Roping, Steer Wrestling, Goat Tying, Girls Breakaway Roping and Barrel Racing. These events will showcase some of the very best kids from the state of Nebraska. Assisting with the rodeo will be members of five college rodeo teams including Hastings, Curtis, North Platte, Chadron and UNL. At 3:00 pm will be the Nebraska High School/College Rodeo Showcase. The Showcase will feature the top 10 high school students and 1 college student from each event.
The Open Class Beef Cattle will be exhibiting Wednesday and Thursday again this year in the Five Points Bank Arena. Wednesday also will feature the Junior Breeding Heifer Show and the Open Class Jackpot Feeder & Breeding Calf Show. Angus, Hereford, Red Angus, Charolais, Shorthorn, Simmental, Miniature Hereford, Maine-Anjou, Gelbvieh, Limousin, Piedmontese and Dexter Cattle will again be exhibited. Thursday evening will culminate with a cattleman’s barbeque followed by the Supreme Drive Championship.
The second weekend as always will feature the 4-H and FFA shows as well as the Open Class Swine shows. Saturday kicks off with the 4-H Sheep show, 4-H Beef Showmanship, Open Class Breeding Gilt show, Open Class Jackpot Swine Show, FFA Breeding Beef, and the Nebraska Sheep Breeders Classic. The 4-H Poultry show is back this year. Also on Saturday will be the Elite Showmanship Contests sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Ag. On Sunday the 4-H Breeding Beef, 4-H Market Lamb, 4-H Rabbit, FFA Feeder & Market Beef, FFA Swine, FFA Goats and FFA Sheep shows take place. Monday will conclude the Fair with 4-H Market Beef, 4-H Market Swine, 4-H Goats and the FFA Market Lamb shows. At 3:30 will be the 4-H and FFA Parade of Champions followed by the selection of the 4-H Grand Champion Market Beef at 4:00 pm.
From an educational standpoint, there are sheep shearing demonstrations, Nebraska’s Largest Steer, Largest Boar and Largest Barrow, as well as a Beef Cattle, Swine, Sheep and Rabbit Avenues of Breeds. The Birthing Pavilion is found in the Sheep Barn and the Milking Parlor gives folks an opportunity to watch cows being milked.
This year there will be two Cowboy Church Services, sponsored by the Nebraska Cowboy Church Association; the first on Sunday, August 28 in the Five Points Bank Arena and the second on Sunday, September 4 in the Thompson Foods Open Air Arena. All in all, 2016 should be another outstanding year!