Nebraska Farm Bureau believes there's something important missing in the discussion of where to locate the State Fair: A public discussion of what, exactly, the State Fair should offer and what it should accomplish.
"When we're clear on what kind of State Fair we in Nebraska want, the location issue should become easier to solve, whether it's 'stay' or 'go,'" says Keith Olsen, Nebraska Farm Bureau president. "To this point, many of the important stakeholders of the State Fair haven't been part of the discussion about moving the fair: 4-H and FFA; sponsors, including groups such as Farm Bureau and other agricultural organizations; and vendors. All of these have a big part in the success of the fair.
"Obviously we (Farm Bureau) believe agriculture should continue to be central to the fair," he says.
Farm Bureau policy encourages the Legislature to increase its support of the State Fair as a way to promote and educate Nebraskans about the state's number one industry--agriculture. Farm Bureau opposes the relocation of the State Fair unless the State Fair Board, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Legislature reach a mutually agreeable solution that will enhance the mission of the State Fair by providing an equal or better venue for showcasing agriculture to the general public.
At a recent meeting, the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors approved a framework which it urges policymakers to strongly consider prior to any agreement to move State Fair Park:
- Develop a clear vision to assure the future success of the State Fair at its new location, including a strong emphasis on promoting and educating Nebraska citizens about agriculture. An alternative site should provide ample opportunity for conducting a successful State Fair.
- The alternative site should be conducive to encourage statewide participation and attendance. It should be selected to maximize attendance in relationship to Nebraska's population, consistent with the goal of promoting and educating Nebraska citizens about agriculture.
- Major stakeholders including 4-H, FFA, and vendor and sponsor representatives should have input into any relocation decision.
- State government, the University of Nebraska, the host city and the general public must be committed to any proposed new location, both through participation and financial support.