A Guide To Fonner Park Racecourse

Fonner Park Racecourse is a thoroughbred horse racing facility located in Grand Island, Nebraska. The racecourse is named after the original landowner August L. Fonner and first held races in 1954. Fonner Park is a 5/8-mile dirt oval that hosts live horse racing every February through May, making it a springtime tradition in Central Nebraska.

Aside from live horse racing, Fonner Park is also a year-round entertainment destination that hosts a variety of events such as national livestock shows, the Hall County Fair, the Nebraska State Fair, wedding receptions, sporting events, and concerts. The racecourse is also home to the Heartland Events Center, an indoor arena that can accommodate up to 6,000 people for concerts and other events.

History of Fonner Park Racecourse

Early years

Fonner Park, located in Grand Island, Nebraska, is a thoroughbred horse racing facility that first held races in 1954. The facility is named after its original landowner, August L. Fonner. In the early years, the track was a 4-furlong oval and had a grandstand that could accommodate 3,000 spectators. The first race held at Fonner Park was won by a horse named Jolly’s Gem.

Over the years, Fonner Park underwent several expansions and renovations. In 1974, the track was expanded to a 5/8-mile dirt oval. The grandstand was also expanded to accommodate 6,000 spectators. In 1988, the track added a turf course, which was later removed in 1998 due to maintenance issues.

Recent developments

In recent years, Fonner Park has undergone significant developments to enhance the racing experience for both fans and horsemen. In 2012, the track installed a new lighting system, allowing for night racing to be held for the first time in the track’s history. In 2015, Fonner Park completed a $5 million renovation project that included a new state-of-the-art simulcasting facility, a new paddock, and a new winner’s circle.

In 2020, Fonner Park gained national attention as one of the few race tracks still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The track implemented strict safety protocols to ensure the safety of all participants and held its annual meet without spectators in attendance.

Today, Fonner Park continues to be a popular destination for horse racing fans and horsemen alike. The track hosts live horse racing from February to May each year and is also home to a variety of year-round events, including national livestock shows, the Hall County Fair, the Nebraska State Fair, and more.

The Track

Track dimensions and surface

Fonner Park is a thoroughbred horse racing facility located in Grand Island, Nebraska. The track is a 5/8-mile (1,000 m; 5.0-furlong) dirt oval. The track surface is made up of a mixture of sand, clay, and silt, which is designed to provide a safe and consistent surface for the horses to run on. The track is well-maintained and regularly watered to ensure that it remains in good condition throughout the racing season.

Races hosted at Fonner Park

Fonner Park hosts a variety of races throughout the year, including stakes races, allowance races, and claiming races. The biggest stakes races at Fonner Park are the Fonner Park Special and the Bold Accent Stakes. These races attract some of the best horses and jockeys from around the country and offer substantial prize money to the winners.

In addition to the stakes races, Fonner Park also hosts a number of other events throughout the racing season, including craft and recreational shows, as well as the local county fair. These events provide a fun and festive atmosphere for racegoers and help to make Fonner Park a popular destination for people of all ages.

Overall, Fonner Park is a well-regarded horse racing facility that offers a safe and exciting environment for both horses and racegoers. Whether you are a seasoned racing fan or a first-time visitor, you are sure to enjoy the thrill and excitement of a day at the races at Fonner Park.

Facilities at Fonner Park Racecourse

Grandstand and Seating Options

Fonner Park Racecourse offers a variety of seating options to suit every budget and preference. The grandstand provides a comfortable indoor seating area with a clear view of the track.

For those who prefer outdoor seating, there are plenty of benches and picnic tables available throughout the grounds. For a more exclusive experience, the clubhouse offers private suites with a balcony overlooking the track. These suites can accommodate up to 20 guests and include catering options.

Food and Beverage Options

Fonner Park Racecourse has several food and beverage options available for racegoers. The concession stands offer classic race day fare such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and popcorn. For those who prefer a sit-down meal, the clubhouse restaurant offers a full menu with a variety of options. There are also several bars located throughout the grounds, serving beer, wine, and cocktails.

Other Amenities

In addition to the racing and dining options, Fonner Park Racecourse offers several other amenities to enhance the race day experience. The gift shop offers a variety of souvenirs and merchandise, including hats, t-shirts, and other race day apparel.

For those who prefer to bet on the races, there are several betting windows located throughout the grounds.

The racecourse also offers a program with information on the horses and jockeys, as well as the latest odds.

Finally, for those who prefer to watch the races from the comfort of their own home, Fonner Park offers live streaming and replays of all races on their website. Overall, Fonner Park Racecourse provides a complete race day experience with a variety of amenities to suit every preference and budget.

Events and Entertainment at Fonner Park Racecourse

Concerts and Other Events

Fonner Park Racecourse is not just about horse racing. It is also a venue for various concerts and other events throughout the year. The park has a large outdoor stage where they host live music performances of different genres, including country, rock, and pop.

The park also hosts a variety of events such as craft shows, recreational shows, and the local county fair. The park’s highlight event is the T-REX RACING event presented by Equitable Bank. This event is a must-see for those who love monster trucks. The event features giant monster trucks competing in various challenges, including racing and freestyle competitions.

Family-Friendly Activities

Fonner Park Racecourse is an excellent destination for families looking for a fun day out. The park has a variety of family-friendly activities, including a petting zoo, pony rides, and face painting.

The park also offers a unique attraction called Raising Nebraska, which is an interactive exhibit that showcases the state’s agricultural heritage. Visitors can learn about the different crops grown in Nebraska, the state’s livestock industry, and the importance of agriculture to the state’s economy.

In addition to these activities, the park has a playground area where kids can play while their parents watch the horse races. The park also has a food court that offers a variety of food options, including burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream.

Overall, Fonner Park Racecourse is an excellent destination for families and individuals looking for entertainment and fun activities. With its variety of events and activities, there is always something to do at the park.


Fonner Park Racecourse is a top-notch facility that offers a unique and exciting experience for horse racing enthusiasts. With its rich history, state-of-the-art facilities, and top-notch racing events, Fonner Park is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the sport of horse racing.

Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or a first-time visitor, Fonner Park has something to offer everyone. From the thrill of the races to the excitement of off-track betting, there’s never a dull moment at this iconic racecourse.

Visitors to Fonner Park will enjoy a range of amenities, including ample parking, top-notch dining options, and a variety of betting options. With its convenient location and easy access to nearby attractions, Fonner Park is the perfect destination for a day out with friends, a family outing, or a romantic date.

Overall, Fonner Park is a world-class racing facility that offers an unparalleled experience for horse racing enthusiasts. With its rich history, top-notch facilities, and exciting racing events, it’s easy to see why Fonner Park is considered one of the premier horse racing destinations in the world.

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