Kansas State Fair organizers speak with pride about the annual event’s 108-year history.
That history includes its pandemic-driven cancellation in 2020, which may have only whet the appetites of those hungry for the sights, sounds and smells of the 2021 fair. The event was held Sept. 10-19 at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.
Katie Perez is a lifelong Kansan who can’t wait to return. She and her family can be found at the fair every day its gates are open.
“It’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” says Perez, who lives so close to the fairgrounds she can hear the live music that is one of the fair’s major draws.
The fair typically offers a dizzying array of attractions for people of all ages and interests. One of Perez’s favorites is the “Birthing Center” directed by a group of veterinarians. There, fair-goers can witness animals such as cows and pigs giving birth, and chickens hatching their eggs.
There are also toy animals with which younger visitors can play “vet.” Perez says the center is an excellent balance of education and entertainment, and counts it as a “must-see” attraction.
Another thing not to be missed is the Pride of Kansas building, in which there is an area for children to play, and scenes and landscapes sculpted from butter. The butterfat works of art are typically related to Kansas or the fair’s theme, and have at past Kansas State Fairs featured prairie scenes and “The Wizard of Oz.”
The attraction has an interactive component that invites visitors to purchase a pound of butter to create their own scenes. The finished works can then be entered for a prize.
The Pride of Kansas is also where to find produce and award-winning agricultural gems. Perez also recommends the train, paddle boats, carousel and other rides.
The Kansas State Fair offers a variety of food and beverage choices. Perez’s favorite is the pronto pup — a variation of the corndog — while her daughter’s favorite is the chicken and noodles cooked and served by a local church.
The fair also offers visitors opportunities to showcase their own talents. There are contests for painting, baked and canned goods, and other edible and artistic creations.
Perez and her daughter have submitted entries in the past, such as decorative cookies and paintings. Some won awards. This year, they plan to enter cross-stitched pieces and Lego architecture.
Perez urges everyone to look beyond the offerings common to many state fairs and explore every corner of the fair.
“You can honestly fill each day by going slowly — three or four hours each day — and going through all of the buildings,” Perez says.
For more details about the Kansas State Fair, visit KansasStateFair.com.