Drought Impacts Nebraska State Fair in Some Areas

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

It's hard to find anything that hasn't been affected by this year's drought in some way, and the State Fair is no exception.

But while some exhibits have been hurt, fair officials say they don't think attendance will be.

State Fair Livestock Superintendent Bill Angell says while a lot of their numbers are doing well, they are going to see fewer cattle this year.

"With a drought comes added costs because [producers] have to buy feed, buy hay that they would normally, some of them, still be out on pasture, so it has quite a bit of affect all the way down," says Angell.

Besides livestock, the drought has been hard on crops too, and officials in the open class exhibits say they've seen a drop in the number of horticulture and ag product exhibits this year.

"It's just been very hard to keep flowers going and keeping them growing and blooming," says Wilma Knippelmeyer, Superintendent of Open Class Horticulture. "Everybody's just kind of tired of watering their flowers and so [exhibits] are down."

But Knippelmeyer says spreading their flower shows out across the duration of the fair means fairgoers won't be disappointed.

"That way people have fresh flowers to look at, but it's very hard when it's 100 degrees to have fresh Impatiens or Gladiolas," she says.

While fair officials admit that those same reasons that are keeping exhibitors down might deter a few fair-attendees, they don't think the impact will be significant beyond the quality of some exhibits.

"It's more of an issue at home for them obviously with the drought conditions and the fires that have been popping up," says State Fair Executive Director Joseph McDermott. "[The drought] has had more impact on our exhibitors than it probably has on us."

And it's important to note that fair officials say they understand those drought-related things that are keeping people from the fair are all also important things. They say they're just looking forward to seeing those people who couldn't come this year next year.


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