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Deep cleaning of barns complete ahead of State Fair

Nebraska State Fair Logo.

The Nebraska State Fair might only run for 11 days, but preparing for the annual showcase takes the entire year.

For the famed sheep barn and other agricultural facilities on the Fonner Park campus, April and May serve up the best opportunity for deep cleaning efforts. Crews take advantage of the down period between events at the Five Points Bank Arena by utilizing high air pressure to blast dust and dirt off the walls, bleachers and fixtures.

“We will use power washers, brushes and rags,” said Nebraska State Fair Director of Operations Tina Thuernagle. “We use nothing but Dawn dish soap because it’s safe for the animals.”

The overall cleaning started on April 8 and concluded on June 1. In total, Thuernagle says it takes more than 1,800 hours to complete the cleaning.

“It’s a big process,” added cleaning supervisor Juana Pacheco. “It takes a couple weeks to clean every building and every barn. It takes about five weeks. It takes a lot of people to clean this.”

The Nebraska State Fair kicks off on Friday, August 23, which means there will be other vendors using the facilities between the deep clean and the fair. Thuernagle says, however, it’s expected of each vendor to clean up the venues following their events.

With the theme, All Roads Lead to Fun, the 2024 Nebraska State Fair is August 23-September 2 at Fonner Park in Grand Island. The fair has drawn more than 4 million visitors to its home in Grand Island since 2010. More information about agricultural events and competitions, carnival entertainment, and other musical performances is available at