Lincoln is home to wonderful experiences including the beautiful Sunken Gardens, the expanded Lincoln Children’s Zoo and the lively Historic Haymarket District. Now, the world’s largest rodeo is coming to town. The National High School Finals Rodeo is riding onto the Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds in Lincoln July 18–24 and is bringing tons of fun for all ages. From the adrenaline thrills of bull riding and pole bending to the nostalgic pleasures of fair food, there are countless reasons to slide into your favorite boots and join the festivities. We’ve herded, wrangled and tied-up the top five reasons to put the rodeo on your summer fun list.
1. Watch high school rodeo champions compete in the new outdoor covered grandstand
Watch in amazement as over 1,700 of the world’s best high school rodeo athletes compete to become world champions. These talented teenagers come from all over the world, representing 43 states and five Canadian provinces, Mexico, and in non-COVID years, from Australia and New Zealand as well. Each athlete has been perfecting their skills with early mornings in the dirt, clocking thousands of hours of grueling practice, travel and competition. And now, with the world watching, they’re ready to show you what they’re made of.
Most rodeo events will take place in the newly-built covered grandstands on the Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds. Spectators will be able to view multiple rodeo performances occurring simultaneously in two outdoor and two indoor open-air arenas in 13 rodeo events over seven days.
Individual performance tickets and discounted all-performance wristbands are available at NHSFRLincoln.org or at any of the three arena gates 90 minutes before each performance.
- Sunday, July 18, 7 p.m.
- Monday, July 19, 9 a.m. & 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 20, 9 a.m. & 7 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 21, 9 a.m. & 7 p.m.
- Thursday, July 22, 9 a.m. & 7 p.m.
- Friday, July 23, 9 a.m. & 7 p.m.
- Saturday, July 24, 9 a.m.
- Saturday, July 24, 7 p.m. (the final world championship round!)
2. Shop the region’s largest western-themed expo
It’s a piece of shopping paradise that goes along with this year’s National High School Finals Rodeo. For seven days in July, the region’s largest collection of unique horse, rodeo and western items will be for sale at the NHSFR Lincoln Rodeo & Horse Expo and attendance is FREE.
At the Expo, more than 100 vendors will be on hand with nearly everything imaginable for rodeo and equine enthusiasts — the usual jeans, shirts, cowboy hats, boots, saddles, bridles and other tack, as well as western-themed home décor, rugs, art and lifestyle pieces, and more unique merchandise you can’t find at other storefronts. In addition, the Expo will have a significant number of vendors with equipment and wares that will appeal to acreage owners, farmers and ranchers.
Shopping at the Expo isn’t limited to the high school rodeo athletes at nationals and their family and friends. It’s for anyone who wants to find unique, one-of-a-kind items — no rodeo attendance required!
3. Enjoy your favorite foods (Yes, there will be BBQ!)
The excitement doesn’t stop with the rodeo. There will be a variety of tasty options from funnel cakes to an assortment of local and national food truck vendors to the onsite Lancaster Event Center Fairgrounds cafes including Austin Blues, The Hitchin’ Post, Good Times Grill and the Horseshoe Café.
Don’t forget to enjoy the 900-plus restaurants, as well as hundreds of shopping options and attractions in and around town before and after rodeo performances. The whole city is preparing for a fun week with special offers and experiences for visitors from around the region and across the country, as well as those who call Lincoln home — all looking to enjoy a rodeo-themed vacation.
4. Kick off a week of fun with Welcome to Lincoln Day and the Ride into the Railyard Concert
Lincoln is kicking off this weeklong rodeo celebration with “Welcome to Lincoln Day” activities across town on Saturday, July 17. Explore the beautiful Lincoln area with exclusive retail and restaurant options, as well as featured tours, special discounts and promotions throughout the city. The day ends with a bang at the “Ride into the Railyard” outdoor, downtown welcome celebration including games, prizes and a concert featuring country singer Glen Templeton — live at The Railyard in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket District. Special activities continue all week across Lincoln.
5. Stay a little longer for Nebraska’s largest county fair
Extend your trip to experience the fun and thrills of the 150th anniversary celebration of the Lancaster County Super Fair, the largest county fair in Nebraska. There’s something for everyone, including rides, food vendors, Nebraska Ribfest, Lancaster Cornhole Tourney, summer flea market and much more. Featured national free attractions include Aussie Kingdom, USA’s only traveling Australian wildlife show; Wolves of the World, the planet’s only traveling rescued wolf pack; and CowTown USA, a hands-on dairy barn experience for fairgoers of all ages.
The Super Fair boasts over 120,000 visitors annually over 10 days. While you’re here, check out the 10,000 exhibits from 4-H, FFA youth and community members of all ages. They’ve been hard at work and are ready to share their great information and presentations, including equine and livestock competitions. Show your support and stop by their booths with curiosity and a smile. They’ll be more than happy to see you.
Bonus: Don’t forget to grab your tickets to the full-throttle fun of Motor Mania, which includes figure 8 races, fast track dirt races and the ram-and-jam fun of a demolition derby. For a full list of events and information on how to become a vendor, sponsor or volunteer, visit the Lancaster County Super Fair website.
Stay in the loop
Keep up to date with the latest news, surprises and behind-the-scenes rodeo fun at the NHSRA website or on social media by following the Lancaster Event Center, National High School Finals Rodeo and the Lancaster County Super Fair.