Cornhusker State Games

by Dave Mlnarik

The Cornhusker State Games, held annually in mid-July, is one of the nation’s largest multi-sport athletic festivals with 70 different sports conducted at more than 50 different venues, primarily in Lincoln and the surrounding area. 

A total of 9,245 athletes participated in 2022 in events ranging from traditional Olympic sports like swimming, wrestling, and track & field, to more recreational activities like fishing, cornhole and bowling. The variety of sports helps attract an audience ranging in age from under five to 90 in a typical year.

The Opening Ceremonies—complete with skydivers, fireworks and a torch-lighting ceremony—adds entertainment value and facilitates camaraderie across the age, geography and sport-preference spectra. At the 2022 ceremonies, freestyle motocross daredevils performed aerial stunts while jumping motorcycles 30 yards over the Games cauldron, and Seward, Nebraska native Jesse Rood broke a Guinness world record for the longest axe throw when his 13th attempt stuck in a target 90 feet away.

Once the torch is lit, athletes ardently pursue the podium and a shot at one of the 3,500 gold, silver and bronze medals awarded.

The underlying mission of the Nebraska Sports Council, which conducts the Games, is to promote healthy and active lifestyles, and it is not uncommon to hear of an adult athlete signing up with the goal of training in order to achieve a higher level of physical fitness.

To further accomplish that mission, the Council now conducts a multi-sport Corporate Games, with more than 40 local companies forming teams of employees. They compete for fun, team-building and wellness, and these Games give Lincoln employers another reason to tout Lincoln as a great place to work.

Other events conducted by the Nebraska Sports Council include a youth-only Pumpkin Run, with more than 3,500 pre-school and elementary runners annually, a high-level club volleyball tournament with 135 teams from six surrounding states, and the WellPower Movement, a free online activity-tracking program that motivates more than 8,000 participants annually to be more active and healthy.

The Nebraska Sports Council is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that relies almost entirely on sponsorships and donations to conduct fun, family-friendly events for more than 20,000 Nebraskans
annually. Learn more at

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