The wait is over and the welcome mat is out.
The eagerly anticipated and year-delayed National High School Finals Rodeo starts Sunday in Lincoln.
About 1,700 competitors from 43 states and two foreign countries will descend on Lincoln. Another 2,000 vendors and rodeo staff will join the fun. All told, the Lancaster Event Center is telling folks to expect about 30,000 people in town, connected one way or another to this huge event.
Estimates put the economic impact in the neighborhood of $16 million.
Businesses were braced -- and excited -- for visitors last year, when COVID canceled the event. But it's back and back big in 2021.
Lincoln tends to measure the magnitude of an event in fractions or multiples of Husker home games. This one has been likened to the impact of four Husker football home games.
But the nature of the impact is very different. The hospitality industry will enjoy the lion's share of the business, but the breakdown is likely to be unusual. Businesses are braced for a lot of campers and RVs. Restaurants will fill up, but campers hit the grocery store aisles, too.
And people won't be the only ones in town. Plenty of livestock will be spending the week in Lincoln.
Lincoln in one of the bigger communities to host the event, so retailers are expecting visitors might extend their stay a day or two to take in more of the local attractions, which is another benefit of hosting.
The event is a fantastic showcase for Lincoln. The Lancaster Event Center team has spent time, effort and -- yes -- money to land and orchestrate this rodeo. Community members will be instrumental as volunteers. Businesses and their employees will be on the front lines of friendliness as they welcome visitors and customers.
Lincoln has done much to make a great first impression with a lot of new people. In the wake of last Friday night's storm, volunteers descended on the event center helping with a monumental cleanup effort, again showing what the city is made of.
With much of the hard work behind it, Lincoln can now enjoy the rodeo the same way a lot of visitors will -- from the stands. There are lots of ways to support the week-long event, but a great one would be attending and supporting the competitors. The sights, sounds and smells of the rodeo are unlike any other sporting event.
A special section in Sunday's Journal Star will welcome competitors and offer more detail on how to residents can enjoy the rodeo and visitors can enjoy Lincoln.
Buckle up. It's going to be an exciting week.