Questions have swirled on social media about the future of the Aksarben Stock Show following the termination of Greg Harder who served as the show director and livestock director for the Nebraska State Fair.
On Wednesday, officials from the State Fair and Askarben Foundation affirmed their commitment to holding the Stock Show “for many years to come.”
Harder was dismissed from his duties on Monday, following the 2020 Aksarben Stock Show.
According to the Grand Island Independent, he and two other people had formed a corporation called “Nebraskans for Youth Livestock.” That entity, he said, was prepared to continue the stock show if the State Fair dropped its involvement.
“Unquestionably, when an employee attempts to seize control and ownership of an employer’s assets without authorization or approval to do so, immediate termination is justified,” said Beth Smith, chairwoman of the Nebraska State Fair Board.
The move to fire Harder was not welcomed by at least one Nebraska State Fair Board member, who wrote on Facebook that he is “100% against what happened.”
Former Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen pointed to the success of the Stock Show, saying it has more than doubled in participation with Harder’s leadership.
Smith and the new State Fair Executive Director, Bill Ogg, met with the Aksarben Foundation staff two weeks ago to discuss plans around future shows and to confirm a continued partnership with Aksarben as the show’s presenting sponsor.
Sandra Reding, Aksarben Foundation President, stated, “We strongly support the Nebraska State Fair continuing to produce and manage the Aksarben Stock Show. Under the Nebraska State Fair, the Aksarben Stock Show has expanded its reach, grown the number of entries and participants and has continued to be a sought-after show for many in and around the state. The Aksarben Stock Show is a proud part of the Aksarben legacy, and we’re honored to continue our involvement with the show as the presenting sponsor.”
The partnership between the Nebraska State Fair and the Aksarben Foundation has remained positive as each is committed to supporting and growing the 92-year-old livestock show. Though initially owned and managed by the Aksarben Foundation, the Aksarben Stock Show was transitioned away from the Foundation’s management beginning in 2018. The Aksarben Stock Show was moved to Grand Island in 2017 by the Aksarben Foundation, due in part to the impeccable grounds and location of Fonner Park, a move celebrated by show exhibitors and attendees.
According to a news release, plans are already underway for the 2021 show, which now includes seeking a new Show Director, but the organization said they have confidence in finding the right candidate and moving forward with another successful show next year.