Marketing Fonner Park Brings Big Shows, Events

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Three junior national cattle shows in a row are keeping Fonner Park busy this summer.

But Livestock Superintendent Bill Angell says it's to be expected with a facility that can hold hundreds of people and animals from dozens of states at once.

"It's real centrally located in the country, it's easy to get to, and we're kind of in the center of the livestock and cattle populations," says Angell.

Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Renee Seifert says they received a marketing grant that's helping them promote Fonner Park with new brochures and interactive video, but says those aren't the only things that put the arena and barns on the show circuit map.

"Word of mouth is probably one of the biggest opportunities we have to sell," says Seifert. "If people have a positive experience while they are here they're going to be more inclined to tell everybody else."

Seifert says the arena and barns, the largest of their kind in the country, can house more than just hooves, recently hosting part of the National 4-H Shoot and the US Custom Harvesters Show.

"They brought in not only all of their members from around the United States and Canada, but all of the big harvesting equipment, so we could be looking at any type of ag equipment too in the future," she says.

Angell says it's not just a facility that makes a show, it's a welcoming and interested community that comes to see what's happening.

"These kids look forward to going to some new place each year and get a different perspective of some other place in the country," he says of the junior cattle shows.

But Fonner Park is courting more than just cattle. Angell says they're encouraging all kinds of livestock organizations to experience Grand Island.

Officials say most national shows rotate locations and set their schedules several years in advance, so some shows might not return every year. But they say venues like Fonner Park are becoming scarce, and they're confident Grand Island will become a part of those show rotations.


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