Hats off to State Fair staff, volunteers
By Jim Dickerson
I know the heavy rains last week likely cut attendance at the Nebraska State Fair, but by Sunday, Sept. 1, things were back to normal — and the Sunday crowd seemed much bigger than usual.
We were on our way back from a family reunion in Sidney, and took our usual side trip to the state fair for a few hours on the way home Sunday afternoon.
It was a tough start for the state fair this year. The fairgrounds received substantial rainfall on three of its first four days, including a cloudburst that flooded the grounds early Monday morning, Aug. 26.
Since we had heard about the muddy parking areas, we opted to park in a large paved commercial lot and take the shuttle to the fairgrounds. That system worked well and saved a lot of walking.
We put in our share of walking miles once we arrived at the fairgrounds, but there was so much to see!
A real treat this year was the performance of the University of Nebraska Marching Band, complete with the flag corps, dance team and cheerleaders.
They put on a pep rally and finished with a parade down the midway. It was a great opportunity for an up-close view to stimulate your Husker Pride!
Since we had only limited time, we hit our usual favorites at the fairgrounds. My favorite is the photography exhibit in the Fonner Park concourse. Julie goes for the quilt exhibit in the Expo Center.
Once we finish in those areas, we head for the commercial displays and then make a trip down the midway to see the sights.
A two-hour stop at the state fair isn’t nearly long enough. It only allows a limited opportunity to see and experience the sites. I missed my usual trip through the livestock barns and several other areas.
Even though we were limited on time, I am sure the 2019 Nebraska State Fair was a great show and well worth the price of admission.
Of course, the big news at the state fair happened on Sunday night about 9:30 p.m., long after we had left the grounds.
The Sky Tram stopped working at about 9:30 p.m., and crews from Wade Shows, along with safety and security staff, used what I would call a portable hydraulic “man lift” cage to rescue about 45 riders.
By 10 p.m., fair officials reported that all riders were safely off the Sky Tram ride.
As of this writing on Monday, we haven’t heard what caused the tram to stop; but all stranded riders received refunds. Plus, they have a good story to take home.
State fair personnel and volunteers from the Grand Island area are to be commended for their ability to react to the changing conditions this year.
An expanded shuttle system was put in place because of the record August rainfall, and it seemed to work very well. Also, there was a quick and efficient response to the Sky Tram problem.