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In the spring of 1895, a group of prominent Omaha businessmen gathered for a historic meeting. Their challenge? Keeping the Nebraska State Fair in Omaha. Twelve of the men in attendance formed the Executive Committee of the Omaha Business Men’s Association and took charge of the festivities of Fair Week. The men traveled to New Orleans to secure all floats that had appeared in February's Mardi Gras Parade for the Omaha fair.
These 12 men became the original members of the Board of Governors of the AKSARBEN Foundation. On the train ride back from New Orleans, the Omahans named their new organization. “Why not reverse the name of our beloved state, since everything seems to be going backwards these days?,”  Dudley Smith suggested. Another member recommended they call the organization “Knights of AKSARBEN” since it had saved the fair for the city. Thus, a legacy was born. The Knights of AKSARBEN became one of the first non-profit entities to be incorporated in the Heartland.
During the century that followed, AKSARBEN Foundation established a horse racing track, community celebrations and competitions focused on youth, agriculture and education. Thousands of AKSARBEN scholarships were awarded, complete fleets of ambulances were donated, along with safety vests, community fair grants and hundreds of civic grants for special projects. Together, these efforts contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in economic impact to the Heartland.
Today, AKSARBEN Foundation continues its mission of leveraging business leadership to build a more prosperous Heartland. We’re giving back our time, talent, energy and resources. And we’re constantly moving forward, innovating and improving to make the region we love a better place for the next generation. We invite you to join us for the journey ahead.
To learn more about our History Timeline, click here.
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