Update: "Ag Experience" Unveiled at Nebraska State Fair


When your competition includes white water rapids and donut burgers, a table littered in brochures just doesn't cut it. So the Nebraska State Fair is becoming more interactive, as plans are outlined for the Nebraska Ag Experience.

"People walking by booths, those days are gone," explained State Fair Director Joseph McDermott.

The Nebraska State Fair is on a mission to be the most innovative in the nation, while staying true to its roots on the farm and ranch.

"We just want people to understand what part agriculture has in their lives every day," Dave Bucholz of David and Associates explained.

Bucholz gave the State Fair board their first glimpse into what's being called the Nebraska Agriculture Experience.

It goes beyond the food we eat, to the clothes we wear, even our homes where carpet is made from corn fibers and our furniture contains soy foam.

Dr. Kathleen Lodl, Associate Dean of Extension at UNL said, "We're looking at certainly where we are with the kind of technology, the kind of science, the innovation in all areas of Nebraska agriculture."

It'll be a $5 million, 25,000 square foot interactive exhibit.

UNL Vice Chancellor Dr. Ronnie Green said, "Museum quality facility that will tell the story of science and innovation and what it takes to produce the food in Nebraska we lead in producing."

Backed by the University of Nebraska, the State Department of Agriculture, and groups like the Corn Board, it'll be open more than the fair's 11 day annual run.

McDermott said, "It would be open for school kids, or anybody to come in and take a look at ways agriculture affects us in our everyday lives."

Planners say it's not a view of what farming was, but where it's going.

Lodl said, "What's going on with GMOs, what's going on in ag, what's going on with DNA. How is food processing in Nebraska agriculture, what's our role, what are the opportunities."

It'll take up part of the new Nebraska Building, with the remainder used by the new Game and Parks exhibit, as the State Fair continues to dream up ways to bring the wow factor.

McDermott said they have "more projects than money, quite honestly, but that's the way it should be."

Planners joke they've been doing some new genetic work, judging from the scale of the livestock sculptures you'll see. It's scheduled to open for this fair, and then be open year–round.

It's the latest development for a fair that's received international recognition. Fair Board Member Doug Brand of Seward was honored Monday by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions for his efforts in helping the fair move to Grand Island.