Nebraska State Fair to focus on youth development, including 4-H events

Nebraska 4-H Youth
June 30, 2020

Lincoln, Neb. —Nebraska 4-H events will be front and center at the 2020 Nebraska State Fair.

The Nebraska State Fair Board voted Tuesday to shift the focus of the 2020 Nebraska State Fair to emphasize youth development opportunities, with some other exhibits, activities, concerts and other events cancelled in light of concerns about COVID-19. Specifically, 4-H and FFA events will be the focus of the 2020 fair, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 28 through Sept. 7 in Grand Island.

Nebraska 4-H and Nebraska State FFA issued a joint statement praising the decision:

“Nebraskans have always been supportive of the education of our young people.  The focus of the 2020 Nebraska State Fair on 4-H and FFA is another example of our state looking toward the future by celebrating the success of our youth. We are thrilled to have the opportunity showcase the work of Nebraska’s next generation of leaders.”

Nebraska Extension began adapting 2020 4-H programming to virtual formats back in March, when social distancing and other directed health measures were first put in place. At the same time, Extension professionals began planning for the possibility of adapting events for both county fairs and the Nebraska State Fair to adhere to health directives.

While many details have yet to be finalized, some decisions about what 4-H and FFA events will look like at the 2020 Nebraska State Fair have been made. These include:

  • 4-H and FFA livestock shows will take place on separate weekends, with the 4-H shows taking place the first weekend of the fair and FFA shows Labor Day weekend.
  • Youth dairy events will be held jointly on Labor Day weekend.
  • Entry quotas for livestock will remain the same.
  • All livestock will be released upon completion of showing.
  • Static exhibits will be on display for the public to view and will also be shown virtually.
  • There will not be an admission fee for the 2020 Nebraska State Fair.

Extension professionals and partner groups are still working out the details of what livestock shows, public speaking and other live events, and static exhibits will look at this year’s fair. Nebraska Extension will continue to work with the City of Grand Island, the State Fair Board, the district health department, and other partners leading up to the fair. More information may be found at

“We’ve got an opportunity to showcase youth in an amazing way, and we are thrilled that our youth have the support of our fair board and our governor,” said Kathleen Lodl, Nebraska 4-H program leader. “Nebraska families are going to get an amazing 2020 State Fair.”

Nebraska has one of the highest 4-H participation rates in the nation, with one in three – a total of over 140,000 – youth engaged in the program statewide.

“Youth who participate in 4-H develop independence, problem-solving skills, leadership skills and lasting friendships,” Lodl said. “4-H helps shape our future generations in a multitude of positive ways, and today’s decision shows that Nebraska recognizes the value of this amazing program.”

 Cara Pesek | IANR Media

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