100 Years of the Kansas State Fair

Gourds form the heads of these prize-winning scarecrows at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012. The scarecrows are modeled after artist Grant Wood’s famous painting, “American Gothic.”

I’ve lived in Kansas most of my life, but this is the first year I’ve visited the Kansas State Fair, which happened to be the 100th fair. My daughter-in-law has visited with her family every year since she was a small child, and she and her family always find new things to see and do. I barely scratched the surface. As the fair motto goes: The Fair “Never Gets Old.”

Here’s fair fare — a carrot cake funnel cake on the top and a corn dog on the bottom — at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

According to the website, the fair’s mission is “to promote and showcase Kansas agriculture, industry and culture, to create opportunity for commercial activity, and to provide an educational and entertaining experience that is the pride of all Kansans.”

More than 350,000 people from all 105 Kansas counties and several other states visit the fair each year, which begins the Friday following Labor Day and lasts for 10 days at the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson. Many thousands of those visitors seemed to be there the day we visited, the first Saturday. It was busy! There are more than a thousand commercial vendors, including those wonderful funnel cake and corn dog stands. There are about 30,000 entries in various competitions. There are lots of musical acts from local to national, including “Boston” and “Heart.” I didn’t see any concerts, unfortunately, but I did try some carrot cake funnel cake. Delicious!

I’ll let my photographs do the talking. The Kansas State Fair website.

Sculptor Sharon BuMann is creating a train and cars from 450 pounds of butter. The cars carry the Kansas icons of Dorothy wearing her red shoes and her dog Toto.

Check out the movie “Butter,” starring Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Alicia Silverstone and Olivia Wilde. Two women battle in their town’s annual butter carving competition. "Butter" movie.

A girl, who has already enjoyed a face painting session, plays with the grains in the wheat fountain. A volunteer warned me that my photograph might be “grainy.”

A little girl meets a dog available for adoption at the Hutchinson Animal Shelter booth at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

A family watches chicks at the Kansas State Fair, 2012.

Judges examine pumpkins at the Kansas state Fair, September 2012.

Holstein Cows, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Scarecrows, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

The sunflower is the Kansas State Flower, so it’s only fitting that sunflower seed heads have a special category at the Kansas state Fair.

Judges measure the longest gourd at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

What a sunny face!

No visit to the Kansas State Fair is complete without a trip on the train.

Prize-winning needlework, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Fruits and Vegetables, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Children play on the giant sunflower fountain at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Clothing Display, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

What is this bird? It’s in the 4-H Poultry Exhibition at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Kansas fish are displayed in the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism aquarium at the Kansas State Fair, September 2012. You can see the Sky Ride gondolas passing overhead.

Sorghum, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Mini Donkey Show, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

The Tin Man and Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz greet visitors to the Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Quilts, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Note the sign of the Peterson Farm Bros, who are Kansas farmers. Check out their very popular video at the bottom, “I’m Farming and I Grow It.”

That engine is hot! A Ford pick-up truck is now a barbecue pit, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.

Ferris Wheel, Kansas State Fair, September 2012.


Filed under Kansas, Travel

10 responses to “100 Years of the Kansas State Fair

  1. Although I grew up in Nebraska, I’d never been to a state fair until I went to the Missouri State Fair while visiting my brother. Funnel cakes galore and watching the cows milked. There was also a shady Midway with carnival barkers and lots of lowlifes. I loved it and went for three years in a row! (Always hoping to get in and out of MIssouri before the ragweed let loose!) This brings back many a fond memory. I read “Charlotte’s Web” to my class every year and it culminates at the state fair. 🙂 When we lived in NYC, there was a restaurant that changed its menu monthly. One month the theme was “State Fair.” Needless to say, it was all deep fried junk food!


  2. Michelle

    I’ve never been to the state fair here, but have fond memories of my aunt and uncle taking us to the one in Springfield many years. Thanks for the look back.


  3. I love the picture posts!

    Those jars were unopened. How do they know who won? 🙂

    The carrot funnel cake looks crazy. But the corn dog looks like it has a triple A rating. Mmm.

    Butter sculpture? Ha ha ha!

    Beautiful colors on that sunny face.

    BBQ from a Ford truck? Oh yeah!

    And that video? At least they ate the beef and gave milk to the kitty and not the other way around! Funny guys. 🙂

    I’m glad you had fun at the fair. Thanks for bringing your camera!


  4. Tom Rent

    Great photos and report Cath! I love the fair!!!


  5. That’s a great slice of Americana. Love it!


  6. Melbourne and Sydney (and a few of the larger country town towns) have something we call ‘The Show’.
    It is a chance for us city slickers to get a taste of country life and tens of thousands of people attend spread over a week. There is a public holiday during the week here in Melbourne so a LOT of people take that opportunity to attend.


  7. Catherine, this is a great post. I’ve been to many state fairs around the country, but never the Kansas State Fair. Looks like I missed a good one. Where I live that butter train would melt in minutes! 🙂 ~~Terri


  8. Pingback: Into the Heartland: 10 Links You’ll Love | GALLIVANCE

  9. Hi Catherine,
    We just love this post and wanted to let you know that we featured a link to it today as part of our “Slice of Americana Series” that we’re running this July. You can check it out at the link below. Thanks for writing so beautifully!

    All the Best, Terri & James



  10. Thanks. Loved reading this and learned a lot. I’ll be visiting again. Regards from Thom at the immortal jukebox (drop a nickel soon!).


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