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A grand affair… and the celebration of the 150th Nebraska State Fair - the State Fair celebration runs Aug. 23 - Sept. 2 in Grand Island. Since 1868, the State Fair has showcased agriculture, products, people and talent. Combining tradition with innovation, an increased emphasis on agriculture and an exciting experience for visitors, there’s fun in the fair.

In August 2010, the Nebraska State Fair opened for the first time in the new host city of Grand Island. With the exception of the final year in Lincoln, attendance has been higher in Grand Island than in Lincoln. Congratulations to nearly 90 Gage County 4-H youth who showcase their skills, showing livestock, exhibiting in the 4-H Youth Complex with nearly 300 exhibits, or competing in fashion shows, presentation contests, judging contests and other events. What a collection of very talented Nebraska youth! And what an appreciation I have for 4-H parents and families who support their kids, giving their time and energy to offer this experience to compete, make friends, learn and make themselves better. Success, pride in themselves and their accomplishments, failure or disappointment... all experiences that shape and mold youth to be leaders of today and tomorrow.

My family is a part of the “Moo Crew”, making the barn our “home” for the opening weekend, working with the Youth Regional Dairy Show, a combination of 4-H and FFA exhibitors from Nebraska and Iowa, and the Open Class Dairy Show. These youth exhibit the best following a successful county fair season. Working through the week and Labor Day weekend, we bring to thousands of visitors at the Nebraska State Fair the daily milking parlor demonstrations and Avenue of Breeds display. In the Five Points Bank Arena and just behind the modern milking parlor, we continue to be amazed at the number of visitors to the barns, from school kids to senior citizens, veterans, families. Last year on one occasion, we counted 113 people in a five minute period walking through the Avenue of Breeds. Seems most farmers have a story about milking a small herd in their past. How that’s changed!

It is fun to share agriculture education with hundreds of kids and adults, talking about the dairy industry and helping them touch a baby calf or a cow that stands taller than they can imagine. Seeing how a cow gives milk in the milk parlor is a popular attraction, hearing someone explain the process. Last year one father told his son, “This is better than school”; that child actually touched and experienced real life, something text books can’t do. Each person who sees and realizes a farmer worked HARD to grow their food is one more who might appreciate that fact! Hopefully, we increase awareness that milk and those delicious dairy products don’t just come from a grocery store. In this agricultural state, it seems the vast majority of kids and adults are far removed from agriculture.

Include in your plans this week a visit to the Nebraska State Fair, strolling the grounds, the Birthing Pavillion, riding the Sky Tram forty feet over the grounds, watching livestock shows, dog trial runs, viewing the thousands of 4-H and FFA exhibits, taking kids and grandkids on carnival rides or combine rides, experiencing attractions of all kinds, entertainment, or shopping for the latest gadgets.

Hope many of you taste a maple bacon mini donut, wing nuts, chicken bows, bacon wrapped gator corn dog, gourmet donut burger, deep fried Snickers or Twinkie, peach on a stick, or a hot beef sundae. Maybe you will delight in the traditional smoked turkey leg, flowering onion, corn dog or funnel cake, with no regard for clogged arteries. Join in the fun at the fair, celebrating Nebraska’s pride, your Nebraska State Fair, wrapping up Labor Day, September 2.

Records and awards due

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Become a Member

Got talent? Yes, 4-H youth have talent! Another exciting 4-H year winds down for over 400 kids and it’s time to record your accomplishments. Oct. 1 is the date to submit the Career Portfolio or the new Achievement Application and awards application, plus the Diamond Clover forms. Online: www.4h.unl.edu. Finish strong!

Dresses for Africa

Rockin' a girl's world in style. We continue this 4-H community service project as we sew simple dresses from fabric or pillowcases and send them through Nancy's Notions to their destination in Africa. We are preparing a shipment of dresses in August. If you have a dress or kit to add to our shipment, please bring to the Extension Office. We have 13 kits all ready to sew - if you have a few minutes, pick up at the Extension Office. Thank you to everyone for donating a few hours to sew these dresses; we're not just sending dresses, we're sending hope!

Tabs make a difference

144 pounds of tabs is a lot of tabs, actually at 1,500 tabs/pound... that equals 216,000 tabs! Thank you to everyone who donated tabs; this brings our county collection at 7,517,000. Funds are donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. So it's on to 8 million! Keep pullin' to make a difference to children and families who need medical care and stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Omaha. Together we help make a child's life better. Bring your tabs to the Extension Office, 1115 W. Scott Street in Beatrice.

2020 Gage County Fair & Expo – mark the date and schedule your vacation: July 22-26.

Simple Inspirations: The fair belongs to all the citizens of Nebraska - it is the State Fair – the 150th fairabration in 2019

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