Opening day of the Kansas State Fair dawned clear and hot, an ideal day to celebrate 100 years of the Party on the Prairie that – this year at least – Never Gets Old.
First day ceremonies focused on the birthday celebration, complete with a giant, multi-layer birthday cake along with plenty of squares of sheet cake for all attendees, courtesy of Dillons Stores, which has its headquarters in Hutchinson, also home of the fair.
Visitors to the opening ceremony received red, white and blue balloons to hold during the opening speeches and release in a celebratory display at the end.
Special events during this year's fair will include 100th anniversary celebrations in a number of areas, including the opening of a time capsule that was placed inside the fair's distinctive "missile" in 1973. That opening was at 3 p.m. on opening Saturday, Sept. 7. A new capsule of objects from 2013 will be placed at the new Kansas State Fair museum.
This is the last year for the famous "White House" on the showgrounds where the opening Saturday legislators' lunch is typically held. It will be torn down after this year's fair and a new building built. That building will house the State Fair Museum and will be named the "Lair White House" in honor of the contribution of Mary Alice Lair, a long time fair board member and supporter.
The first 500 visitors to the fair information booth each day will get a 100th anniversary commemorative item of some kind and those who bring in a donation for the food bank can sign up for a cash prize drawing,
Richard Shank, Hutchinson ambassador to the State Fair shared some historical data with opening day visitors.
In 1913, the year the Fair was first established, the U.S. Congress had passed the very first income tax – a tax of one percent on earnings. Shank said the legislation came with assurances that it would never be increased. Meanwhile, a sales tax to pay for establishment of the state fairgrounds passed by an overwhelming margin.