Nebraska State Fair Needs 300 More Volunteers in a Month

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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Grand Island is now the "State Fair City" after City Council approved it Tuesday night. The annual 2 week fair has around 500 volunteers signed up but needs 800.

So far that's are about 100 less volunteers signed up than this time last year.

State Fair volunteers can sign up for about 4 hours of work doing one of dozens of jobs.

"I don't do 1 thing the whole fair. I usually break it up to all the different facets and I think I've done everything there is to have done," said Missy Nelson who has volunteered at the State Fair since it moved to Grand Island in 2010.

Regular volunteers have also signed up for the same job, like Sara McMillan and her mother do as front gate greeters since 2011.

She said, "We like it because we're that first face as you walk into the fair that says, 'Hey, welcome to the fair, we hope you have a good night."

This year the fair is hoping for at least 300 more volunteers to hit 800.

"Where that number comes from is over the course of the 4 years that the fair has been here in Grand Island, that's around where we've been and that's where we've felt comfortable with how many people that we've had," said Dana Miller, the Volunteer and Program Coordinator for the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

Miller said the last month is when they get their biggest push, but if they don't get much bigger numbers in 30 days, it's the fair that will suffer.

She said, "Every area is important and, you know, some of them are more of a priority. Because of that those areas are where we're going to put the people that we do have. Hopefully with this month left we still have time to kind of close that gap so maybe we won't have to do that quite as much, but in the end that's what we'll ultimately have to do."

The Chamber of Commerce said all the volunteers at past State Fairs and the hope for more in this, it's 5th year in Grand Island, really shows the character of those who live in this area.

"I think that that says that this is a very giving area, very giving community. Nebraska as a whole, I think the people, they really enjoy giving back to others and that's just one way to show that," said Miller.

McMillan added, "It's wonderful that there are so many individuals that want to give back that believe it's important to be a face in our community that says, 'We want you here, you're a visitor to our community and to the fair and we think it's great that you're here."

Those individuals said they get as much from the fair as the people they help.

Missy's husband Vic Neslon, who has also been volunteering since 2010 said, "It seems like we get a well representation of people from all over the state so meeting the people and the kids all the way up to people our age and older is a lot of fun for us."

If you would like to be a volunteer at the 2014 Nebraska State Fair, click the link to the State Fair Volunteer portal to sign up online, click the links to Grand Island Chamber or State Fair websites to print a form and mail it to the Chamber, or visit the Chamber of Commerce at 309 W 2nd St. If you have any questions, call the Chamber at (308) 382 - 9210.