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Dan Kunnemann named Nebraska Fair Person of the Year PDF Print E-mail

By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican

Imperial’s Dan Kunnemann received the highest award given by the Nebraska Association of Fair Managers (NAFM) when he was named Fair Person of the Year Sunday.

The award culminated the activities of NAFM’s annual convention held in Kearney last weekend.

While Kunnemann said he had no clue he was getting the award, a lot of people around him did.

The Chase County Fair Board nominated Kunnemann for the award. He served on the Chase County board from 1985 to 2011.

In early January, board members learned that Kunnemann was this year’s recipient. Dan’s wife, Sue, was brought into the loop. Her job was to gather family together to attend the presentation.

Everyone kept the secret and as the award was announced, he was greeted by their children and grandchildren.

In addition, several Chase County fair board members made the trip especially for the presentation.

Looking back, Kunnemann said he should have seen it coming. People were acting a little strange before the awards banquet, he noted.

Joined fair board in 1985

Kunnemann’s involvement with the Chase County board came when he joined the board in 1985.

Almost immediately, Kunnemann began working with the late Ed Burke on arranging fair entertainment. For many years, Burke served as fair secretary and entertainment chair.

After Burke’s death in 2000, Kunnemann became the county fair’s front man for lining up entertainment.

That experience proved valuable when Kunnemann was appointed to the state fair board to fill the vacancy left after Burke died. Part of Kunnemann’s duties dealt with lining up entertainment.

During his tenure on the Chase County board, Kunnemann served 10 years as president, followed by a stint as treasurer until he went off the board in 2011.

A love of the fair

Kunnemann’s efforts over the years exemplify his love of the fair, both on the county and state levels.

He said the friendships that have been formed, along with working together with the other members, is something that he will always remember and treasure.

He said the continued success of the Chase County Fair has been possible because of the support people in the county show for the fair.

Going a step further, he said there’s no other county fair in Nebraska that has the kind of board Chase County has.

“We’ve got a damn good board,” he said.

Looking back at his years on the county board, Kunnemann said the creation of the benefactor program has proven to be a key factor in the fair’s success.

The intent of the program was to help make improvements to the grounds and he said the board has been successful in doing so.

Through sponsors’ support over the years, the board has been able to build new livestock barns and replace grandstand bleacher tops, along with smaller improvement projects.  A new building will be added on the grounds this year.

State Fair involvement

After Burke’s death, Kunnemann was appointed to the Board of 29, which was a board of 29 people who ran the state fair at that time.

After the state fair board was reorganized, Kunnemann was reappointed to the board as the District 4 representative.

The district includes 15 counties from Adams County to the east to Chase, Dundy and Perkins Counties on the west.

A state fair board member can serve three terms of three years each. This year marks Kunnemann’s final year on the state board.

During his tenure, the most impactful change he’s seen has been the fair’s move from Lincoln to Grand Island. That proved to be a big undertaking for the board and he’s enjoyed having been a part of it.

He said the state fair continues to grow in Grand Island.With the 2014 State Fair being his last as a member of the board, he’s excited the new Nebraska Building will be completed year.

This building will be solely owned by the state fair and will house their office and operations.

The fair leases the other buildings on the ground used for the state fair.

Third Chase Co. recipient

Kunnemann represents the third Chase County Fair Board member to be named Fair Person of the Year over the years.

Burke received the honor in 1982, which was only the third year the award had been given.

Don Leonard of Wauneta received the award in 1986.


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