Nebraska State Fair is an Educational Fair Too

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

There are all kinds of things to entertain fairgoers, but there are also groups at the Nebraska State Fair who want people to have a good time while learning a little something too.

Stuhr Museum officials say educating while entertaining is something they do all the time, so moving some of their collection to the fair for a week just means reaching more people.

"We're also taking those hands on things that we're doing everyday and reminding people about the history and what life was like to settle this part of the country," says Stuhr Museum Executive Director Joe Black.

Besides a history lesson, fairgoers can get a dose of Nebraska-based science at UNL's Mobile Beef Lab.

"Kids have a chance to put their hand inside the rumen [of a live steer] and we take samples out of there and use that with the microscope to talk about science and bacteria," says UNL Extension Educator Heather DePra.

DePra says an interactive approach helps them bridge that disconnect, even among the rural population, about how good gets from the field to the store.

"Being able to teach them where that comes from as well as teaching them basic science principles of animal husbandry at the same time - it pairs pretty well," she says.

Consumer groups like public power districts say they too find the State Fair a great place to spread safety messages and information.

"A lot of different power districts come together to talk about electrical safety, energy conservation, new technologies in energy," says Marsha Banzhaf, Dawson Power's Public Relations Coordinator. "It's just a great opportunity to talk to people."

Banzhaf says they can talk to customers other places, but don't reach as many as they do at the fair.

"We all do some different things in our communities - safety fairs, farms shows - but this really brings in a large group of people from the big cities, from the small towns, from the rural areas," she says.

Black says they're also finding they can make connections with more than just Nebraskans, engaging people from surrounding states and teaching them a little bit about Nebraska.

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