Bands have been a tradition at the Nebraska State Fair for almost as long as the fair has existed. The September 4, 1886, Daily Call of Lincoln, on microfilm at the Nebraska State Historical Society, reported of the bands at the 1888 state fair:
“The Call receives a complaint against the state board of agriculture in securing the brass band from the state reform school to furnish music during the state fair. ‘Lincoln,’ says our correspondent, ‘has two excellent bands, and they should be given the choice.’
“The Call is proud of Lincoln’s musical talent, and knows that it is not excelled in the state. It would please The Call to see the board recognize our bands, yet at the same time our citizens must remember that the state fair is a state, and not a Lincoln institution. Being a state enterprise, patronized by the state at large, it would perhaps appear to towns outside of Lincoln that they should also be recognized. The boys’ band at the reform school makes good music. The school is another state institution, and the band composed of the little fellows makes a novelty-and The Call believes the board was right in securing it.
“The citizens of Lincoln, we believe, should have pride enough in their bands to raise a purse and see to it that they are both on the fair grounds during the continuance of the fair. The management of the fair would doubtless pay half of the expense! This would be the proper way. Local talent never lacked encouragement from Lincoln people, and The Call knows that in this instance citizens would respond cheerfully and liberally if called upon.
“It would not be out of place to have a dozen bands on the grounds. The Kearney band is all right. The Wymore band, with its new silver instruments, will doubtless visit the fair for a day or two, and perhaps other towns will see to it that their home bands head excursions to the greatest exhibition ever given in Nebraska.”