The 95th edition of Kansas' "Party on the Prairie" - the Kansas State Fair - kicks off its 9-day run showcase of the best this state has to offer, Sept. 7 at the State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.
More than 343,000 people attended last year's edition, continuing a trend of increased attendance, says Denny Stoecklein, general manager of the Kansas State Fair.
A host of opportunities await visitors to this year's Fair. Not only are there new events, but new food vendors, buildings and carnival rides galore.
On tap for agriculture
Everything you ever wanted to know about the State Fair can be found on its Web site, www.kansasstatefair.com, or at Dillons Food Stores throughout the state.
There are, however, special agriculture events at this year's Fair. The annual Agriculture Forum, hosted by AM 580 -WIBW Radio, features Representatives Nancy Boyda and Jerry Moran and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts. Boyda and Moran are members of the House Ag Committee; Roberts sits on the Senate Ag Committee. The forum, to be broadcast live, occurs at 11 a.m. at the AT&T Arena (formerly the Farm Bureau Arena).
"We're also excited to host Matt Roloff, star of the TLC television show "Little People, Big World," at 6 p.m. Sept. 12 at the AT&T Arena," Stoecklein says. "A farmer from Oregon, Roloff is a father of four, former president of the Little People of America, and is a great motivational speaker."
Kansas sheep producers are sponsoring a lamb cookoff, which takes place a noon Sept. 9 just west of the administration office. The event will tempt the senses of smell and taste with scrumptious lamb dishes. Horse trainer Scott Daly will offer a series of workshops and seminars in the Bison Arena at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sept. 11.
Finally, join annual favorites Chainsaw Woodcarver A.J. Lutter, comic hypnotist Ron Diamond and the StiltWalker, Richard Renner.
General admission ticket prices, if purchased in advance, are $5 for adults (age 13-59); $4 for seniors (over 60 years of age) and $3 for children 6-12. Children five and under are admitted free.
Beginning Sept. 7, prices go up to $7 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for children. Season passes are $30. Tickets are available at the State Fair Admission Gate or at Dillons stores throughout Kansas.
Fee parking is available on the north and east sides of the Fairgrounds; watch for signs as you enter Hutchinson.
Entrance gates open at 7 a.m. each day; they close at 9 p.m. except the final day, when gates close at 6 p.m.
There are a host of new accoutrements, according to assistant manager Lori Mulch.
A sparkling $2 million Swine, Sheep and Goat barn at the south end of the Fairgrounds will be the first facility many fairgoers see, particularly if they park along the east side. With its 743 stalls, permanent animal washing facilities and air-conditioned offices and restrooms, the new barn will provide a much more comfortable atmosphere for showpersons and visitors, says Lori Mulch, assistant manager of the Kansas State Fair.
"We have split the arenas, with one on each side of the building, divided by the offices so that events can occur simultaneously," she says. "The center of the building is vaulted, with open sides at the top. That should keep the building much cooler."
The renovated House of Capper – located east of the Administration Building and near the Fountain - will be a great place for fairgoers to sit, have a drink of water and relax, Mulch adds. The gazebo, built when Arthur Capper launched his first run for governor in 1912, was one of three he had built in the state and is the only one remaining. The Kansas State Fair Foundation chose renovation of this structure as one of its first projects to honor one of Kansas' most notable natives: journalist, entrepreneur, governor, senator and philanthropist.
Finally, all the permanent restroom facilities have been remodeled, Mulch says.