The site was purchased by the Hall County Livestock Improvement Association in April 1953. The park was named after August L. "Gus" Fonner, who donated the land. The Old Reliable Hereford Show and Sale was held as its first livestock exhibition in September, before beginning its inaugural season of racing on April 29, 1954. In the years that followed, Fonner was expanded to include additional grandstand seating, expanded barn space, an indoor quarter-mile training track, and other amenities.
In March 1979, Fonner Park began offering Sunday races for the first time. In 1988, the track began simulcasts to Lincoln and Omaha.