The Kansas State Fair faced a birthday brain-bender this year.
The very first official state fair was in 1913, meaning that the 2012 Kansas State Fair is the 100th being put on.
But birthdays are usually celebrated in a more numerically aligned manner: If it’s born in 1913, it’s 100 in 2013.
“One of the exciting things for us is that this year and next year are historic times for us,” said Denny Stoecklein, the fair’s general manager.
So which one to celebrate?
Stoecklein and his staff chose … both. This year, they’ll commemorate the 100th fair and next year, they’ll celebrate its birthday.
As a result, the 100th fair, which opens Friday and runs through Sept. 16 on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, has a new logo. The animal-themed “It’s a Wild Ride, Baby” has been retired, baby, replaced with a colorful, vintage mustached man reminding us that the fair “Never Gets Old.”
The fair also will celebrate by displaying some fair artifacts, including the very first “prelim” book used in animal competitions in 1913.
Even though the fair is celebrating the past, many of the events and approaches are new, Stoecklein said.
Hoping to bump attendance back up to the 350,000 range — last year’s unpredictable weather dragged it down to around 340,000 — the fair is offering attendees more discount options and more free entertainment.
But it’s also raising the gate admission price for adults from last year’s $8 to $10.
“The only revenue we get for our operation is through the fees we generate,” Stoecklein said. “None of our ticket prices have been increased for a few years. As we looked at it, we knew we were going to have to make an adjustment somewhere, and we didn’t want to affect the children and senior prices.”
Ticket prices for children and seniors did not change. They remain $4 for children ages 6 to 12, and $6 at the gate for seniors age 60 and over. Children 5 and under are admitted without charge.
Following is a look at some new and notable offerings at this year’s Kansas State Fair.
“I really like that aspect of the fair, whether it’s them or the stilt-walker or Oscar the Robot,” Stoecklein said. “You’re walking around the fair, and it’s kind of that added element of surprise.”