The Nebraska State Fair, at Fonner Park, 700 E. Stolley Park Road in Grand Island, is a not-to-be-missed event. Not only does it attract nearly 400,000 people every year, but it offers the opportunity for people of all ages to experience something unique and special that runs 9 to 11 days annually.
While visiting a state fair is a brilliant opportunity on its own, the fun’s over early when you return home after one day. Why not do something different and stay the duration? The Nebraska State Fair boasts RV camping and plenty of action to fill up the days.
There will be headline concerts, games, carnival rides, and competitions as well. Meander through the expansive site and view each of the 15,000 exhibits lovingly entered by Nebraskans. You can then try out all the different cuisines, shop until you drop, and return to your RV campsite for a restful night of sleep.
The Nebraska State Fair has been held annually in Grand Island since the 1990s, and always ends on Labor Day. However, its location at Grand Island is a recent change. The State allocated $42 million for construction of facilities to accommodate the event, and it now boasts fairgrounds, a horse track, and an arena at the Heartland Event Center and Fonner Park.
If you like to be early for everything, then don’t change your behavior when it comes time to purchase tickets for the Nebraska State Fair. If you buy them in advance, you get significant discounts, especially for bundle deals. Otherwise, you can purchase tickets for gate admission and concerts in various quantities. There is a tiered structure for adults, seniors, and children. Visit www.statefair.org for current ticket pricing and schedules.
The Nebraska State Fair is at Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska, with its address on Stolley Park Road. Your GPS will likely be able to provide the most direct route, taking into account the increase in traffic for the significant event.
If you are coming from the east, you can take I-80 or Highway 2. From the west, I-80, Highway 30, 34, or 2. South and northbound traffic can take Highway 281 which leads you directly to Grand Island and then on to Fonner Park. There are several entrance points into the State Fair from that point, with RV campsites at the north side of Fonner Park Road.
You can put away your wallet because parking at the fairground is free! General parking at the State Fair is at the west and east sides of the fairgrounds. Bus parking, which may include some larger RVs, is at the north side of the grounds. However, if you intend on camping at the fairgrounds, you will need to drive your RV to the Campground Office to receive your lot allocation.
Because RV camping sites are limited, you may find yourself setting up your RV at a nearby campground. If you’re worried about transport to the event; don’t be. There are free shuttle services to and from the fair around Grand Island. These operate throughout most days of the event, with pick-up and drop-off points at major Grand Island landmarks.
Onsite camping is in hot demand, with only 130 sites on the north side of Fonner Park Road. These sell out quickly, so you will need to head to the organizer’s website and pre-register your RV. The campground is fenced, and service hookups are available, including pad parking and dumping. Guests can also choose to have no electricity, or an amp rating of 20, 30, or 50. Guests cannot wash, repair, or overhaul vehicles, and the water pressure is set at 100 PSI. There are also no refunds if you leave early.
If you aren’t one of the lucky ones to get an onsite camping spot, Nebraska State Fair provides contact information for its recommended accommodation providers. The Nebraska area and Grand Island is not short of RV parks and facilities with a range of convenient amenities. Remember, you can also take a shuttle into the fairgrounds if you do not manage to camp on site.
While you can make your way to the fairground on foot, by RV, car, or on your bike, once there you may find the most convenient method for navigating the grounds is on foot. Fencing separates the main fairgrounds from the campground, but a walking path gets you between the two in about five minutes. Golf and service carts will require a permit for operation.
It’s not uncommon to get pretty hot and sticky during the summer in Nebraska, so don’t be afraid to pack lightweight, breathable clothing. Shorts and t-shirts will be the most comfortable attire to stop you from overheating. Temperatures can drop overnight, so don’t forget to pack a sweater and a pair of pants as well. Comfortable footwear will help you feel at your best, too.
If you intend on staying for the fair’s duration, you may like to bring as many creature comforts from home as possible. You may want your favorite cooking equipment for inside your RV, as well as anything you need for overall comfort, such as umbrellas, chairs, and coolers. There will be ATMs on site which allow you to withdraw cash for vendor purchases. Don’t bring any fireworks and leave alcohol in the RV.
Nebraska likes to turn the heat up for visitors, which means there is usually a high need for sunscreen and bug spray. There would also be no harm in keeping a first aid kit in your RV. Protect yourself and the little ones from the sun with sunscreen, and wear sunglasses and sun hats.
While open fires are prohibited, there are no rules against personal cookers. Take care and never leave your cooking unattended. If you need extra supplies to cook up a storm at the campground, markets and grocery stores are proximate to the campgrounds. There is also a general store that’s a short walk from the grounds as well.
If you plan on staying for the duration of the fair, there’s no harm in dining off-site for a bit of variety. A short walk from the fairgrounds you can find a range of family-friendly restaurants catering for meat lovers and dessert fiends alike. You may be able to walk to these venues, but allow extra time due to the number of new visitors to the area.
Several hundred vendors set up shop at the Nebraska State Fair, meaning you’re not short of options to tantalize your taste buds. As the fair officials offer up vendor awards, there’s even more reason for them to produce a high standard of food. Try out something new and delicious every day to give you the full fair experience. Many of these vendors accept credit but bring cash as well in case some vendors require a different payment option.
With nearly 400,000 people descending on Fonner Park for the fair, there will be ample security to put your mind at ease. Many exhibit buildings close at night to the public, and security roams the perimeters including the livestock barns. There is also permanent fencing around the campground and a campground manager on duty at all times.
The Nebraska State Fair falls in the middle of a seasonal transition from summer to fall. In most cases, you can expect the sun to shine for the duration of the event. However, fair officials have plans in place for adverse weather conditions.
A red flag will appear at the campground office in the event of a severe weather warning. There will be a yellow one if a weather watch has been issued. In case of storms, you can find shelter in the bathhouse. In the event of severe weather, security can lead you to the Grandstand or another safe place.
Accidents can happen, and Nebraska State Fair officials have plans in place if they do. There is an onsite infirmary for all visitors and exhibitors. State Fair staff also do everything in their power to make the fairgrounds as safe as possible but are not responsible for accidents, loss, and damage. The Grand Island Fire Department and a medical care facility are proximate to the fairgrounds.