Hoyt Kraeger, Saddle Bronc at Madisons Amatuer Rodeo

$7 Million Improvements On Pace for July 2020

Published October 2019

By Hoyt Kraeger, Lancaster Event Center Business Development & NHSFR Alum

We’re hard at work here in the nation’s #1 Cattle on Feed state preparing the Lancaster Event Center (LEC) to host the NHSFR in 2020 and 2021. With incredible support from Lancaster County, City of Lincoln, State of Nebraska and the dedication of the LEC’s board and crew, we’re finishing $7 million in improvements on our grounds. With plenty of existing inside space, the upgrades are focused outdoors on the campground, main performance arenas and stalling area.

Earlier this year the crew expanded the LEC campground from 200 existing sites to over 1,276--each with water and electricity. We will also be offering dry camping sites for those interested.  Our campground will be mostly grass sites, providing a pleasant experience for all our rodeo campers.

Work has also begun on the new covered grandstand and the two new Rough Stock and Timed event arenas with room for 5,000 fans. This arena setup will be very similar to what you experience in Gillette, WY. In fact, the same arena designer that worked on Gillette’s first NHSFR arena project in 1993 created the design for our arenas. These arenas are laid out with extensive input from NHSRA staff and directors to maximize efficiency moving stock and contestants between events while emphasizing everyone’s safety.

The Cutting and Reined Cow Horse arenas will be inside our Pavilion 3 and 4 buildings with minimal setup as most of our current rodeo and livestock events take place in these arenas. The addition of more livestock pens and arena footing outdoors will not be a major task as these are everyday activities the LEC’s operations managers take great pride in delivering.

In fact, amongst our 320+ annual events we have had very particular rodeo and equine disciplines, nationally renowned trainers and show promoters give us rave reviews on our arena footing. Arena Director Chas Skillett (one of LEC’s five NHSFR alums) is our footing expert. He’s constantly monitoring the footing in each arena to make sure it’s correct and safe for each event.  Honestly, I think he dreams about “dirt.”

The horses are athletes too, and we know their accommodations are every bit as important as yours.  To keep all 1,900 of them as comfortable as possible, all horse stalls will be set together on the highest part of our grounds. This will ensure their stalls get the best breezes possible, and additionally our engineered design ensures the area drains well into adjacent ditches.   As expected, easy access to fresh water, wash bays, manure dump areas and feed are also essential to our plan.

Recognizing the home operation and other aspects of your lives continue while you’re competing in Lincoln, we’re exploring ways to extend our existing site-wide, high-speed wi-fi out to the entire campgrounds. Whether you’re working remotely or just hanging out between performances streaming an online video.

LEC is conveniently located on the eastern boundary of Lincoln with both a Walmart and farm ground as our neighbors, yet with easy access to the rest of Lincoln’s amenities.  With many people and livestock constantly moving on and off of the grounds during NHSFR, we were pleased to report that the City of Lincoln recently doubled lanes near our main entrances.

With NHSFR 2020 returning to centrally-located Nebraska we’re expecting many rodeo fans to join us in Lincoln from near and far. (historical fact: The first NHSFR hosted by Nebraska was held in Harrison in 1955)  Lincoln has 5,000+ hotel rooms and ample campgrounds at nearby lakes which allows more visitors to stay near the NHSFR site than recent history. There are lots of fun, unique things to do for all ages both in town and throughout Nebraska.

For those who like to shop, the NHSFR Lincoln Rodeo Tradeshow & Horse Expo will be the region’s largest Western and equine shopping event. In addition Lincoln has two large shopping malls in town, there is a regional outlet mall nearby, and Omaha has many options as well. LEC and partners will be offering the best of local cuisine right on grounds, plus Lincoln has over 900 restaurants to explore between performances. So whether folks like to watch, shop or eat --we’ll have visitors covered.

I can't wait to see you all at NHSFR Lincoln (where you can ask me how an unpaid LEC internship got this rodeo kid involved in another High School Rodeo adventure!). Follow us @NHSFRLincoln for tips to plan your trip.