The hands on the clock seem to tick rapidly as we lead up to the opening of the 106th Kansas State Fair and the real fun begins — at least for me.
For the past nine years as a State Fair board member, this week marks the beginning of the endless packing of suitcases as I try to outguess the weather. The kitchen counter becomes a modified call center to make sure none of my thousand contacts misses the news about the 10 most exciting days of the year, and Post-it notes are arranged by days and carefully placed on boards to prevent me from missing one bit of excitement that the Kansas State Fair provides.
Yes, I am sure I wear out most people who have to bear with me through this bizarre ritual I have perfected, but it is a sight to see.
Over the last nine years, I have had the privilege of becoming a citizen of Hutchinson. And although it seems like a short stint of time, I have made so many lifetime friends here and had so many once-in-a-lifetime moments. Hutchinson will always be a special place for me. After all, you certainly qualify as a local if your first stop is Bluebird Books & Cafe for a quick smoothie before heading down the street to the famous Smith’s Market to check out the produce and grabbing some Anchor Inn to go. And then it is off the Kansas State Fairgrounds, where every year I am amazed at the transformation these grounds undergo at the hand of talented Hutchinson citizens who take pride in hosting 350,000 visitors.
As I close this chapter of servitude as a member of the Kansas State Fair board, I truly believe the best days for our State Fair are ahead. With a great leader in place and some of the hardest working staff I have had the pleasure of knowing, I see great things on the horizon.
Being able to recoup generated sales tax has allowed projects like the Expo Center to go from a wish list to reality, so get ready for the unveiling in 2020. The growth of our livestock shows over the past 20 years can only be attributed to the hard work of the Grand Drive committee members. The establishment of an endowed scholarship this year will allow more opportunities for youth to plan for their futures.
This year, the formation of the “Pride of Kansas Foundation” will play a key role in the future growth of the State Fair. All these building blocks were put in place to sustain the fair for many generations and each block was made possible because of the thousands of Kansans who love the Kansas State Fair.
So come on out to the Kansas State Fair during the next 10 days, and look me up. Be part of my “last fair party.” You never know, I just might be stomping grapes dressed as a grape, crafting a butter sculpture for the first time or trying my hand at showing 4-H beef with Kansas legislators who dare to enter the arena.
Wherever you find me, you can bet I will be smiling from ear to ear, making those memories that last a lifetime. Remember, there are plenty of memories to go around, so see you at the fair!