The Kansas State Fair is celebrating its 100th birthday this year with balloons, bands and birthday cake.
Deep-fried birthday cake, of course.
The fair, which opens on Friday and runs through Sept. 15 on the Kansas State Fairgrounds in Hutchinson, will include plenty of 100th birthday activities, including free birthday cake at the opening ceremonies, food vendors frying up birthday cake funnel cakes and deep-fried birthday cake, and a birthday cake competition in the Domestic Arts building.
It also will include throwback events that have been popular at various times since the first official fair in 1913, such as an old-time bingo game and a mincemeat pie competition. And at 3 p.m. on Saturday, fair officials will open a time capsule that was sealed in 1973 inside a Sergeant missile displayed near the Information Center on Grandstand Avenue. It was created as part of the fair’s 60th birthday celebration, and an engraved plaque on the outside instructs that it be opened in 2013.
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Of course, the focus of the fair will be on the types of activities that have been around for all 100 years: agriculture displays, livestock exhibitions, cooking competitions and downhome, farmer-style friendliness.
But it’ll also include lots of modern fair features: deep-fried foods, big-name concerts, fast-flying carnival rides and as-seen-on-TV shopping deals.
The grandstand will feature nightly entertainment. So far, the top sellers are a Sept. 15 show by country superstar Toby Keith, Friday’s concert by classic rockers Kansas and a Sept. 14 show featuring Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Other acts include teen singer Bridgit Mendler on Saturday, Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers on Tuesday, Jars of Clay on Thursday and Theory of a Deadman on Sept. 13.
Fairgoers also will be able to embrace the fair’s trademark weirdness by indulging in novelty foods such as deep-fried mac and cheese, maple bacon snickerdoodle cookies and grilled lemonade. While digesting, they can watch performing bears in Gottschalk Park or witness an “American Strongwoman” tear phone books in half with her bare hands.
Oscar the Robot will be back but will have company: Rock-It the Robot is a 9-foot, 3-inch robot who, like Oscar, will circulate the grounds talking to fairgoers.
This year, more daredevilish fairgoers will be able to board a thrill-ride that works like a human slingshot. They also can skate on a rink of synthetic ice or take a helicopter ride over the fairgrounds.
As always, the fair will feature its permanent attractions that keep people returning year after year, including the butter sculpture, train rides, giant pumpkins, Ye Old Mill ride, pig races, a comic hypnotist, the midway, the sky ride, a chain-saw woodcarver, the birthing center and more.
Use this guide, which features a schedule plus more information on food offerings, concerts and entertainment oddities, to plan your 100th birthday trip to the Kansas State Fair.