Fair's Big Addition to tell "Story of Agriculture"
By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
The Nebraska State Fair continues to reinvent itself, by going back to the basics and back to the farm in the new $5.4 million "Nebraska Building."
The new project was officially unveiled on Friday, at a news conference featuring the building's partners -- the University of Nebraska, Department of Agriculture, and Game and Parks Commission.
UNL Vice Chancellor Dr. Ronnie Greens said it's in line with their mission.
He said, "Story of ag – story of food systems, science that goes into that and be able to do that during the State Fair certainly, but also have the opportunity to be around the year."
Green said the University of Nebraska has dreamed of opening an agricultural education center, something that would have cost $15 million as a standalone facility.
Now they'll develop an interactive museum-quality exhibit with their partners at the fair and state department of agriculture.
State Ag Director Greg Ibach said, "People all over the world are more curious now than ever about where food comes from. To be able to have this opportunity, even in a state like Nebraska that we think knows about agriculture, a lot of people have questions."
Lincoln developer Tam Allan has been the driving force on the fair board. To see the university embrace the idea exceeds his expectations.
He said, "They took our ideas and in one meeting raised up the possibility of something way beyond what we anticipated."
The building was always part of the master plan, but in the rush to build from the ground up in 2010, they held off.
Now they're glad they did, because instead of throwing up a shell of a building, they have a vision.
Fair Board President Jana Kruger said< "We needed to move out here and see what direction to go, what other needs and when we figured out we could enhance the ag aspect, that was a win–win."
Construction could begin next month, with plans to be open next year.
Five Points Bank will finance the majority of the project. It'll be a locally made Chief building, and will be put up by a Nebraska contractor.