Nebraska State Fair offers more interactive activities for 2011 | TheFencePost.com

Nebraska State Fair offers more interactive activities for 2011

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. – For its second year in its new Grand Island home, the Nebraska State Fair will introduce more interactive activities while keeping a strong focus on science, careers and healthy living, said Kathleen Lodl, assistant dean for extension at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“As we enter our second year in the new facility, we are looking forward to an even better and bigger fair with more opportunities for young people,” Lodl, said.

This year a state fair iPad app will enable fair goers to view contest results via their iPads or kiosks throughout the fairgrounds, Lodl said. The app can be downloaded for free from the iTunes store online by searching for Nebraska Extension 4-H.

More interactive 4-H exhibits and activities are also one of the highlights for this year’s fair, said Shane Potter, UNL extension educator and 4-H program coordinator.

Each day, one topic area, such as science, plant science, and food and nutrition, will be featured as the focal theme in the 4-H Exhibit Hall, Potter said.

For example, one science exhibit youth can take part in is the 2011 National 4-H Science Experiment, Wired for Wind. The experiment helps youth understand the physics of wind and how it can be used to conserve energy. “Instead of being a spectator, they can actually take part in a 4-H activity,” Potter said.

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During the second weekend of the fair, various departments from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources will be involved in activities to promote opportunities at UNL. Potter said, “4-H is your first class at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We want fair goers to see how 4-H is preparing youth for the future.”

Another highlight of the 2011 fair will be a horticulture judging contest.

UNL extension educator Elizabeth Killinger said youth will identify plant material, rank landscape plants or produce from best to worst and take a general knowledge exam on plants.

Killinger said she hopes to leave out the plant specimens for the public to examine so that they can test their knowledge too. “It’s also about educating the public and making them better consumers,” she said about the contest.

Lodl said she encourages fair-goers to look past the events and appreciate how youth have developed as they created the exhibits. “The focus is not just on the exhibit but rather the work they’ve been doing leading up to the exhibit,” she said.

In fact, the youth may even get jobs linked to their 4-H interest. “Many things they learn in 4-H and showcase at the state fair launches them off to a career,” Lodl said. “They’re really exploring whether they want to have a career in science, horticulture or nutrition in the future.”

In addition, the UNL Mobile Beef Lab will be making its debut at the State Fair this year, Lodl said.

Elsewhere at the fair, the UNL Food Processing Center’s display in the FFA 4-H Building will offer samples and information from more than 20 Nebraska food companies. Items will include popcorn, pickles, seasoning blends, honey, pie, coffee, sauces and marinades, jellies, meats and more.

“This is a delicious and informative way for visitors to experience and learn about all the diverse foods made by Nebraska companies. In addition to being a great experience, it also helps companies expand their distribution opportunities throughout Nebraska,” said Jill Gifford, manager of the center’s Food Entrepreneur Assistance Program.

The fair runs Aug. 26-Sept. 5 near Fonner Park and Stolley Park roads in southeast Grand Island.

See the fair schedule here: http://www.statefair.org/fair/thingstodo/daily_calendar.asp and map here: http://www.statefair.org/fair/thingstodo/documents/11FAIR-027_map_hires_Fnl.pdf.