Seeing the Kansas State Fair Through Different Eyes as A Farming Family

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For as many years as I can remember, I have loved the Kansas State Fair.

When I was a kid, we would meet my grandparents at the fair and enjoy all the things it had to offer. We loved the animals, yummy food, and seeing the tractors, and my grandma always wanted to see the quilts and art. We would go from building to building, some fun, others boring, but we loved the building where all of the booths were, we usually could talk my grandpa into a special treat to cherish until we came the next year.

Connections for Farmers

As I worked my way into the position of Rancher’s Wife, I began to look at the State Fair differently. Ranchers and farmers are going there to shop and make connections. My husband goes to look at specific items from businesses that span the country for a firsthand look at something he typically can only see online. Pretty cool.

The Culmination of Lots of Hard Work

But the shopping and booths are just there to accompany the primary reason for the fair, as are the carnival rides and all the yummy food and activities. The real reason for the fair is to judge all of the projects there, from crops to quilts, goats to chickens. All of the things in all of the buildings are there for a reason.

Projects that kids have been working on for months and perfecting over years, on display at a county level for all to see. Each project, anything from entomology to baking, and quilting to rocketry will be discussed with a judge during a consultation. The final project is judged but many questions about how they learned and the practice they have been doing on the project throughout the previous year is also a topic covered. Each project will be awarded a ribbon:

  • White Ribbon (could use more work)
  • Red Ribbon (average)
  • Blue Ribbon (above average)
  • Purple Ribbon (superior quality)

A blue ribbon can get an add-on, called by different names, a “Top Blue” or a “State Fair Blue” making them contenders for winning a purple ribbon as either a Class Champion (classes set by age or years in each project) and then the Grand or Reserve Grand Champion being the overall First and second place winners.

State Fair Blue, Top Blue and Purple projects are all eligible to go to the Kansas State Fair (some exceptions made on particular project types), should the exhibitor choose to send them.

County Fairs happening across all 105 counties in our great state and 4H kids showcasing their time and talents with the grand prize of taking their projects to the Kansas State Fair to expand the competition. Hutchinson then receives, judges and showcases all of the winners from across our state to select the very best that Kansas has to offer that year.

Each project submitted to the County Fair is given a ribbon

Animals at the Fair

Animals are a little different. In most cases, the animals that were shown at the County Fair cannot also come to the State Fair; at a Fair or a Show kids are to display animals that are market ready. An animal that is “market ready” at the first of July at the County Fair, will go to market in July, so another animal can/will be brought to the State Fair in its place in September. The qualification (typically)is to have competed with the same animal type (breed, class, etc) as in a prior competition that year.

Animals are still one of my favorite things at the Fair! But I can tell you (after some experience) that it is a tremendous amount of work, time and money that goes into those animals. If you haven’t watched a show before, you should, it’s amazing! Those 4H and FFA kids go all-in!

It is such a sense of pride for our state and its future to go to the State Fair and see all the projects that Kansas students are working so hard to perfect!

Best of luck to all of them!

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