Log Out | Member Center

71°F

96°/72°

Sen. Jerry Moran: After 100 years, fair still rooted in agriculture

  • Published Friday, Sep. 6, 2013, at 5:13 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Sep. 7, 2013, at 6:22 a.m.

More than a century ago, a group of business leaders in Hutchinson formed the Reno County Agricultural Society and hosted a fair in a small wooden livery stable behind the town’s only bank. Forty years later in 1913, Kansas Gov. George Hodges made Hutchinson the official location for the Kansas State Fair, which was described by the Hutchinson News as having an “auspicious opening” when thousands of Kansans gathered for “a record-breaking agricultural and horticultural exhibit showing.”

The fair continued to grow and became a true reflection of the times. Just as life in Kansas changed drastically during World War II, so did the fair. The 1942 Kansas State Fair had a “Scrap Day,” where more than 32 tons of metal was collected to contribute to the war effort by offering free admission in exchange for donations. Booths even had war bonds and stamps available for purchase.

Today the fair remains Kansas’ largest single event – attracting nearly 350,000 attendees annually. Kansas families enjoy endless entertainment, thrilling rides, exhibitor booths and – of course – delicious food. My wife, Robba – who is a former Kansas State Fair board president – and I often visit Our Lady of Guadalupe’s food station in Cottonwood Court, where parishioners build camaraderie serving hungry folks tasty enchiladas, tacos and tamales.

While the fair continues to evolve, its roots remain in agriculture. One way the tradition is showcased is through Kansas youth organizations such as 4-H Club and FFA. I always enjoy visiting with these young people, who learn the meaning of hard work and responsibility through projects like raising and showing livestock, taking photographs, baking, or learning carpentry through woodworking construction. Through such experiences, our next generation of leaders are being equipped with the skills and values necessary to reach their full potential and become successful in life.

With the record-setting drought and the uncertainty surrounding the farm bill, it is vital that we make certain agriculture remains profitable so there is a next generation of farmers and ranchers in Kansas. As a senator from a farm state, I often find myself educating my colleagues in Washington, D.C., about the critical importance of strong agriculture policy. With an increasingly urban Congress and the complexities of a global agricultural economy, this is often not an easy task. My conversations with Kansans during the fair remind me that working to keep the family farm alive and provide consumers with safe and affordable food is worth every effort.

As the fair celebrates 100 years, we are blessed to have such a strong agriculture community. I hope you will join me in honoring that community by attending the fair, which runs through Sept. 15. I know you will enjoy the exciting rides and the wonderful – and sometimes wacky – food, but be sure to check out the exhibit halls, livestock barns and countless educational opportunities. I also have a booth in the Pride of Kansas building, where members of my staff will be available to answer questions, so please come by for a visit. Thank you to the Kansas State Fair board members and staff who put in countless hours of planning to ensure the fair’s success.

I hope to see you and your family at the fair, and am sure you’ll leave with a greater appreciation for the agriculture families who work so hard to make certain Kansas remains the special place we love to call home.

Jerry Moran is a Republican U.S. senator from Kansas.

Subscribe to our newsletters

The Wichita Eagle welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views. Please see our commenting policy for more information.

Have a news tip? You can send it to wenews@wichitaeagle.com.

Search for a job

in

Top jobs