If you live in Nebraska, you know we have a beautiful state.
While people from the coasts may think we’re “flyover country,” folks who take the time to visit love to come back. Whether it’s our wide open spaces, the white sand beaches at Lake Mac, or our world-renowned Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, there’s an incredible variety of great recreational opportunities here. There’s never been a better time than right now for us as Nebraskans to explore the Good Life. As you map out the rest of your summer, the Passport program, our state parks, and the State Fair are three great ways for you to take advantage of all our state has to offer.
The Nebraska Tourism Commission’s 2020 Passport program features our state’s amazing food, fun adventures and cultural gems. Now in its 11th year, the Passport program offers prizes to participants who collect stamps from any of its 69 stops. Passport travelers can savor the famous fried chicken at Chances “R” in York, sip a craft beer at Lost Way Brewery in Holdrege, or munch on gourmet popcorn at AquaPop in Wayne. If you’re looking for something more active, you should consider a trip to Arbor Day Farm’s Treetop Village in Nebraska City. It showcases our state’s love of trees by inviting visitors to climb into the canopy for a stroll through the treetops. The Treetop Village, which opened just last fall, has 11 red-cedar treehouses, hundreds of feet of elevated walkways, and a 70-foot suspension bridge.
Don’t wait to get started. The 2020 Nebraska Passport program is already underway and has been extended to Oct. 31 this year. Nebraskans can order a physical Passport through nebraskapassport.com. A list of this year’s stops is available at nebraskapassport.com/passport-details/2020-passport-stops. There’s also a Nebraska Passport app available for download on your smartphone.
If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors, Nebraska’s 17 state parks and historical parks along with more than 55 other recreation areas provide a wealth of opportunities for socially-distanced fun. Nebraska has more miles of rivers and streams than any other state, with plenty of places to go kayaking, tanking and floating. Many our state’s rivers and lakes are home to lots of different fish including walleye, catfish, bluegill, white bass, largemouth bass, crappies and more. Over the past few months, many Nebraskans and visitors to our state have been rediscovering fishing, resulting in three record-breaking catches so far this year. Richard Hagen of Swanton reeled in an 89-pound flathead catfish near Brownville in early June, smashing the previous record by nearly 10 pounds! The mammoth catfish measured over 53 inches long. The following weekend Tou Kong Yang from Colorado set a rod-and-reel state record when he caught a big striped bass hybrid at Lake McConaughy. A few days later, bow fisher Richard Porter arrowed a bighead carp at a sandpit in Dodge County, weighing just under 82 pounds to break yet another state record!
This summer is a great opportunity to introduce a friend or family member to fishing, take a picture, and enter it in the Commission’s Take ‘Em Fishing contest. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is drawing for prizes through the end of October, including the grand prize Bass Tracker Classic fishing boat from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. You can learn more about the contest at http://outdoornebraska.gov/takeemfishing/.
This month and next, many counties in Nebraska will host fairs ahead of the State Fair, which occurs annually at the end of August. Last week, the Nebraska State Fair Board announced that a modified State Fair will happen Aug. 28 to Sept. 7. Fair organizers have been in ongoing communication with the local health department, City of Grand Island, and leaders at the state level. They are taking necessary precautions that will allow the State Fair to take place safely and successfully.
The State Fair plays an important role in the life of our state. Agriculture is our state’s number one industry. Roughly one in four Nebraskans work in agriculture, and many jobs in our cities and towns depend on farming and ranching. Each year, Nebraskans travel from every corner of the state to gather for the festivities at the State Fair. The fair is an important bridge between urban and rural Nebraska, bringing hundreds of thousands of Nebraskans in contact with agriculture through livestock shows, 4-H events and great food. It’s important that we continue to cultivate a connection between agriculture and our communities, so we can grow Nebraska for years to come. For more information about the plan for this year’s fair, watch www.statefair.org for updates in the coming weeks and days.
As you’re traveling the state this summer, I hope you enjoy all that our communities across the Good Life have to offer. If you have questions about traveling or other matters, you are always welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402-471-2244. Best wishes on your adventures as you explore Nebraska!