Parade being revived for State Fair’s 100th birthday

It once was a yearly ritual — the carnival train would come to town each September and parade down Main Street with its equipment and animals to the Kansas State Fair.

That tradition eventually disappeared as the carnival now trucks in most of the equipment. Moreover, circus-type animals at the 10-day September event are rare.

But with the 100th birthday of the Kansas State Fair this year, there again will be a fair parade, said State Fair Manager Denny Stoecklein.

“We were looking at what we could do to commemorate the 100th birthday, and this was something we hadn’t done for a long time,” he said. “When we see the history of the fair, the carnival would come to the fair and parade up Main Street. We decided let’s do a parade and do it a few days before the fair.”

The fair runs Sept. 6-15.

With his staff busy preparing for the event, Stoecklein asked the Young Professionals of Reno County to be in charge of the details.

Registration of $25 for parade entries is due July 25. Entries are limited. Themes are to represent the fair’s 100th birthday. Cash prizes will be awarded to division winners.

“YP of Reno County has really come on board to help us with it,” he said. “We’re pretty busy this time of year, and they are going to invest a lot of sweat equity.”

Stoecklein said the Labor Day parade begins at 12th Avenue and Main Street and ends at the entrance to the fair. Spectators can then come inside to Lake Talbott for continued festivities, which will include giveaways and prizes.

According to stories in September 2008 editions of the Hutchinson News, former Fair Manager Bob Gottschalk had said that the carnival’s hauling by train ended by the beginning of his tenure in the mid-1970s, if not earlier.

Gottschalk said the cost of hauling by railway increased, and the animals soon were trucked directly to the fairgrounds. Locals also complained about the droppings from the horses pulling the carnival equipment and cages.

In other fair news:

• Carnival wristbands are on sale for $18 through July 31. They can be used on wristband days during the fair. Typically, wristbands are $25.

• Shane Harper will open for his “Good Luck Charlie” co-star, Bridgit Mendler, on Sept. 8. The show is on the Disney Channel. Tickets for the grandstand concert are $29 and $44.

• About 3,704 tickets have been sold for country music star Toby Keith’s Sept. 15 concert, which closes the 100th birthday celebration. Kansas military will receive another 2,000 tickets. Sales have met 47 percent of the cost to bring him to Hutchinson.

• Meanwhile, rock band Kansas, which kicks off the 10-day fair, has sold the second-most tickets, at 1,666, which is 27 percent of the band’s guarantee.