State Fair Promises Small Fee, Big Names for Concert Series


Concertgoers can say goodbye to lines at this year's Nebraska State Fair. But there's a trade-off for the added convenience of reserved seats. The free concerts aren't going to be free anymore, but fair leaders think a $6 fee will bring peace of mind.

Headliners include country star Brantley Gilbert and impressionist Terry Fator, a past winner of America's Got Talent.

The lineup also includes well known acts like Styx, B.J. Thomas, and Michael W. Smith.

There's also a rising group with Nebraska roots, the pop duo Karmin, that entertainment director Chelsey Jungck is excited to have.

Jungck said, "She, Amy is from Nebraska, Seward, so it's fun to bring somebody local back to the state that's local and had some success and feature at the state fair. That's what the state fair is all about, is showing Nebraska talent."

Country star Brantley Gilbert and comedian Terry Fator have standard ticket prices. All others, will cost about what you'll pay for a meal along hot dog alley. The formerly free shows now carry a $6 fee. The fair thinks that's pretty reasonable for nationally known acts.

"I don't think you can see any of the $6 artists we're bringing in anywhere else for that fee," Jungck said. "Still a great price."

It's a change up from the wristband system they'd been using. Folks had been lining up at noon, only to line up a second time six hours later to fight for a seat.

For an event that's trying to attract folks from across the state, Jungck thinks this is more equitable for all Nebraskans.

She said, "There's no need to drive to GI to wait in line in the afternoon to get a wristband, no need to wait in line immediately preceding a concert to get into the arena."

This year's fair lineup may skew a little differently than in years past. There are just two country artists, Brantley Gilbert and Chris Young. The fair's entertainment director looks at surveys, and tries to give people what they want, but it's a challenge.

She said, "There are a lot of moving pieces, things that going into it that people don't realize. Availability is important. Some artists don't tour every year. And then whether or not they're routing through Nebraska. A lot of the tours tour on the coast, so coming to the heart of the nation doesn't always make sense for the artist."

Those are just the big arena acts. There's a high dive show, elephants, wolves, pig races, street performers, and several stages of free entertainment.

Jungck said, "We try to add a lot of entertainment, added value, that's free value for the price of gate admission."

And there are special events with their own ticket prices like tractor pulls and draft horse shows.