Lincoln’s “Largest Community Center” Celebrate
by Amy Dickerson
While the Lancaster Event Center (LEC) Fairgrounds is now a nationally recognized venue home to more than 320 local to national events year-round in Lincoln, Nebraska, its unique history is not well known. Built in 2001, LEC Fairgrounds was originally founded by the Lancaster County Agricultural Society to provide a home for the growing annual 5-day Lancaster County Fair with year-round 4-H/FFA youth activities. Today over 2,000 youth and adult exhibitors participate annually in the now 10-day fair with year-round ag education activities.
Agriculture tourism draws visitors year-round to Lincoln with 120 regional/national events at the LEC Fairgrounds. Ag business events are headlined here by the annual Nebraska Ag Expo, which is the second largest indoor ag show boasting 2,000 booths over nine indoor acres. Horse, cattle, dog and other livestock shows draw visitors from all over the USA to compete, making up many of LEC Fairgrounds’ 600,000 visitor days.
Two hundred local community groups, nonprofits and small business events annually fill out the LEC Fairgrounds’ busy calendar, making it Lancaster County’s “largest community center.” Starting in 2020, the fairgrounds’ large indoor and outdoor spaces began being put to good use for the pandemic with mass testing, vaccinations, food distributions, blood drives, public elections and meetings.
In 2021, LEC Fairgrounds “celebrated” its 20th anniversary as only a busy fairground would—by hosting the biggest event in its history with the National High School Finals Rodeo (NHSFR.) Over 30,000 unique visitors stayed 5-7 days each to watch 1,600 high school rodeo athletes from 43 states, five Canadian provinces and Mexico compete. It’s estimated the new Lincoln, Nebraska location attracted double the friends and family compared to long-time smaller host towns in Wyoming. In addition, a whole new set of rodeo competition and shopping fans broke records for spectators and trade show sales in its first year here.
To enjoy LEC Fairgrounds latest improvements–a National Event Campground and updated Outdoor Grandstand Arena–mark your calendars for July 2026 and 2027 when the NHSFR is set to return to Lincoln. Or if you’re an RV fan, be sure to check with your favorite RV association for upcoming conventions now booking in what is one of the USA’s top-10 event center campgrounds–starting with Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA) in August 2022.
Whatever the season, LEC Fairgrounds has fun, affordable events waiting for visitors from near and far. In honor of its 20 years and counting, here are LEC Fairgrounds’ “Top 20 Shows” to include in your next Lincoln trip.
Top 20 Shows to Visit
November – March “Indoor” Season:
- Deer & Game Expo
- Women’s Expo
- Nebraska Builders Home & Garden Show
- Husker Lawn & Leisure Show
- Boat, Sport & Travel Show
- Cornhusker Classic Tractor Pull
- Sesostris Shrine Circus
- Nebraska Ag Expo (USA’s 2nd largest indoor ag show)
- Regular craft/antique/flea vendor fairs
- Specialty trade shows—from gun to reptiles to gems to toys & trains
April – October “Open Air” Season:
- Over 100 horse shows—from miniature to barrel racing to ropings
- UNL College Rodeo regional championship
- Cornhusker Classic & Silver Classic Quarter Horse Shows (two of top-12 in USA)
- Demolition Derby
- Monster Trucks (in the new Grandstand 2022)
- Lancaster County Super Fair (Nebraska’s largest county fair)
- Family Motor Coach Association International Convention (world’s largest RV rally)
- Thrive 55+ Expo
- Lego Brick Days
- Pick your favorite livestock/animal shows—from dogs to goats & in between
See its online calendar and follow us on social media to plan your next trip to Lincoln to let the good times grow!
LancasterEventCenter.org | @LancasterEventCenterFairgrounds