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Various GI events draw regional audience


Events and festivals play an important role in a community. Providing the opportunity for people to come together is one such role. This community-building is important to the social fabric of our city. Events are also important to the tourism industry and in maintaining hospitality businesses. 

These events offer businesses and their workers an opportunity for increased profits and wages. From baseball tournaments, to shooting sports competitions, livestock shows, to Husker Harvest Days and the Nebraska State Fair, Grand Island has an entertainment option for everyone to enjoy.

Events and festivals contribute to Grand Island’s status as a regional trade center. Regional communities attract people for retail, medical, service and entertainment purposes. Because events and festivals draw people to Grand Island from other communities and states, they contribute to the economic health of our community and are key to maintaining the overall profitability of hospitality businesses and careers, sustaining local opportunities on a year-round basis.

We are thrilled that the Nebraska State Fair, Husker Harvest Days, livestock shows and sporting events alike call Grand Island “home.”

Husker Harvest Days

Since its inception in 1978, Husker Harvest Days has grown to become one of the nation’s premier working farm shows. Located on 1,000 acres west of Grand Island, Husker Harvest Days attracts visitors from more than 20 states for the opportunity to see the very latest in farm technology presented by over 600 commercial and organizational exhibitors. The economic impact of this event, according to an economic impact study authored by the Bureau of Business Research (UNL), is estimated to be $7.7 million annually, including a $2.6 million labor income impact as more than 2,500 employees and 500 event operations staff accompany the 600 exhibitors.

Fonner Park

Fonner Park’s live racing is an economic driver in our community. The live racing season and simulcasting creates dozens of jobs year round and adds more during the live racing season. Horse racing is a draw for visitors from outside of Hall County.

In addition to the dollars generated at the track, the off-site spending of those attending the live racing brings millions of additional economic activity to Grand Island. Horse racing brings in visitors from outside of Hall County. Along with attending the races, visitors are eating, shopping, purchasing fuel and contributing to our economy in other ways. 

Horse racing also provides an entertainment option for residents. For decades, opening day at the races has been a gathering spot for family and friends. This entertainment is an important part of the overall mix of recreational and leisure activities available in central Nebraska.

Nebraska State Fair

Successful fairs are a reflection of their communities and provide residents and visitors with a common bond, the opportunity to celebrate community and, at the same time, enjoy unique experiences that are joyfully anticipated year after year. Historically, fairs have offered warmth and comfort, tradition, a spirit of camaraderie, and an opportunity to share family values. 

Fairs also provide cutting-edge information, technology and education on a variety of topics important to the state and region. According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, “While enjoying these high-minded pursuits, fair visitors are also able to see, hear, touch, smell and taste the richness and variety of what the world has to offer.”

In addition to offering social and educational opportunities, the Nebraska State Fair has a significant positive economic impact on the Grand Island community. A 2013 economic impact study conducted for the Nebraska State Fair indicates that the Fair operations (year-round) have an economic impact of $7.6 million. 
Additionally, the economic impact derived from the spending throughout the community by Nebraska State Fair attendees is calculated to be $14.7 million. As these various expenditures move through a given economy, they produce employment, output, and income growth. Thus, as direct fair-related expenditures are recycled through the local economy, additional rounds of spending, employment, and output occur.

About the Author

Cindy Johnson
President, Grand Island Chamber of Commerce
Cindy oversees all aspects of the GI Chamber operation and initiatives, working closely with the Chamber's Board of Directors and leaders from all sectors of the community.

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