As the NE state fair draws to a close at it's new site in Grand Island, I have decided to share my experiences about it. Most of you probably won't be concerned in the least, but I felt I had to share this anyway.
As a select few of you already knew, last year Nebraska's government decided to move the state fair from it's (then) current place near the UNL campus to a new (now) location that was better suited to hold such a fair. They wanted a place with ample room, somewhat centrally located, and where traffic [if properly managed] would not be too much of an issue. They chose Grand Island because it [Fonner Park] had a land area equivalent to several (I think around 10 or 12) city blocks square, also because it was very nearly in the center of the state, and because not only was there plenty of potential parking, all the roads were built to handle such capacities (Most streets are either 4-lane w/left turn lane or 2 lane w/left turn lane also Locust St. is a straight shot to I-80).
Now this pissed off a lot of people from out east (Omaha, Gretna, Papillion, Lincoln, etc...) so much that some said they would not show their exhibits because it was too far away. Guess what: those slots were filled [almost immediately] by local businesses and businesses out West (Scottsbluff, Chadron, Valentine, Oglalla, etc...); so initial fear #1 was quickly shot down. Fear #2 had to deal with building new structures for the Fair. Luckily we have tech oriented colleges out here so there were many a college students that needed internships this summer. Ta-daa! Instant cheap labor (w/ college credit I might add). Fear #3 was almost a one night affair until we found out that there was no hotel room to be found for the time of the State Fair because they were all booked (people were being referred as far out as Kearney).
This all sounds great huh? Well it just keeps getting better! My brother moved to Lincoln a little while ago and went to the State Fair there. He said it was just awful. There was little emphasis on the main theme of any State Fair (which is Agriculture), parking was a nightmare (you HAD to use Public Transportation), the roads were not built to handle such capacities (some were, but the way they were built negated the effect of their apparent capacities), and the place was a tiny spit of land full of run-down buildings.
This year he came out here [to Grand Island] and was very impressed with what he saw: The place was HUGE. If they tried they could easily get 3 more rides fit in and still have more room for another building. They had completely separate buildings for 4-H, Livestock (small), cattle, pigs, and commercial venues; not to mention the livestock arena and the outside livestock pens. Case/New Holland was giving combine rides out on the racetrack, and there was food booths everywhere. Also there were free concerts (I can't remember who all showed up to play) and even horse-drawn carriage rides. There were so many rides that waiting in line was never more than 15 minutes, and there was no shortage of satisfaction. Traffic/parking was better than I expected. I showed up at around 2:30pm and found a spot in the free parking section. Traffic redirection made it easy to go where you wanted to go in a timely manner and the police had it under control 100% of the time. Like I said, the roads were built to handle such capacities so it was fairly easy to get in and out of there in a timely manner. Skagway [a grocery store similar to Hi-Vee] really hit the jackpot with their location because they were in front of the park. One of my friends works there and they had to order extra delivery trucks.
Overall I'm very pleased with how it all turned out. And yes part of the reason I'm happy it moved out here is because I live 30 minutes away. So ha.