Nebraska State Fair officials working on plan to put on outdoor concert for next year


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GRAND ISLAND, Nebraska — Nebraska State Fair officials are working on a plan to book a bigger musical act for a large, outdoor concert for next year.

The State Fair Board met for a retreat last week, The Grand Island Independent ( ) reported. Executive Director Joseph McDermott said fair officials have noticed some county fairs are bringing in well-known performers that are as big or bigger than the ones at the state fair.

Fair officials are considering moving one concert to the south end of the Fonner Park track from the Heartland Events Center to accommodate a bigger concert audience for "big name" acts, he said.

While nothing has been officially set, McDermott said examples of a "big name" act are artists such as Lady Antebellum, Journey, Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood.

"Those types of acts are the caliber we would look to bring in," he said.

Those performers can cost $500,000, meaning the fair would have to charge $107 per ticket at the Heartland Events Center, which McDermott said is too high. Moving a concert from the center to the park would increase how many people could attend, lowering the cost of tickets.

The center is a "beautiful building," but the capacity is 5,300, McDermott said. An engineer and production manager have examined the park and say it could fit 10,000 people.

McDermott also said moving one show outdoors would free up the center for other programming. Agricultural events remain a high priority for the fair, and fair officials are looking at other fairs for inspiration on what programming to add, he said.

"We're really going to try to kick it into high gear so that people, when they come to the fair, they want to come back," he said.

Information from: The Grand Island Independent,

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