Grand Island Groups Focus on Bringing More Livestock Shows to Town

Grand Island, NE - The Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority (GILCA). Nebraska State Fair Director Joseph McDermott says it's a long name for what they, the Grand Island Chamber, Grand Island/Hall County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Fonner Park have been doing for a few years now.

“While GILCA has been working to keep the livestock buildings busy, we can certainly do a better job,” says McDermott.

Cattle, goats, horses, and more have used the State Fair's livestock buildings - a five year old $42 million investment - which are meant for more shows than just the fair.

The GILCA members may have slightly different goals - whether it's visitor numbers of where dollars get spent - but in the end they say promoting the livestock complex is a win for all.

“When Fonner Park, when these new buildings are busy, Grand Island is busy, and that's what we're in the business of doing is growing the tourism economy in this community,” says CVB Director Brad Mellema.

“Our goal as we move forward and look to recruiting additional shows is obviously to recruit those shows that have the most impact on our community,” says Chamber President Cindy Johnson.

Johnson says those tend to be youth-focused. She says economic impact models say even a small show can pump $50,000 through Grand Island's economy.

And avid showpeople like Teijlor Strope, who showed shorthorns in 2012 and at the State FFA Convention this week, say these facilities are almost second to none.

“When I compare it to other shows, I think that it's just made for livestock,” says Strope. “Some other shows, they're not, they're made for putting mats down for wrestling and they're made for completely different things.”

GILCA already has seven big shows and sales lined up this year - three of them happening in June - but leaders say they want these facilities to be that busy year round.

“We're beginning to explore all kinds of opportunities, whether it's rodeos, whether it's livestock shows, agricultural expositions, those kinds of things to bring existing shows in and maybe to create a few new ones in the future, we'll see where it goes,” says Mellema.

Looking back since it was built in the 1950's, the Fonner Park complex is no stranger to change, and CEO Hugh Miner says GILCA is just the next step forward.

“Fonner, even back then, had partners with the Chamber and others that promoted this facility,” says Miner.

Three national animal shows are already penciled in for 2016, and GILCA says they're working on five potential ones for 2017.

Grand Island Livestock Complex Authority Upcoming Schedule:
(as of April 9, 2015)

2015 -
June 8-14 -- American Boer Goat Assoc. National Show
June 16-20 -- North American Junior Red Angus Event
June 21-25 -- American Shorthorn Assoc. Junior National
June 26-July 3 -- Junior National Hereford Expo
October 3 -- Fall Harvest Shorthorn Sale
Nov. 21-22 -- NE Hereford Assoc. Annual Meeting & Sale
Nov. 24 -- J6 Ranch Production Sale

2016 -
March 4-5 -- UNL Block & Bridle “Big Red” Prospect Show
March or May -- Alpaca Owners Assoc. National Show & Sale
June 6-12 -- American Boer Goat Assoc. National Show
July 1-10 -- Angus Junior National

By Megan Johnson, Reporter

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