I’m back. My 49th year at the Kansas State Fair is now past, and I’m going to try to tell you why I enjoy this wonderful fair even though the amount of mail kept at the post office is surprising and takes time to go through it all. It takes time to get back into my daily routine; my busy calendar reminds me of what’s ahead.
It is like an annual reunion as our 15 encampment workers get together. My children that can make it come to see me at work in the dorm. My hours are from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., even to take the yearly group photo. It is fun to compare pictures taken years ago.
It is great when past workers stop by to see if I’m still able to come and friends from across the state look me up and even take me out to eat.
I could tell I hadn’t been walking much at home because I tired easily and needed to stop often to rest in my walker. But that’s OK. I continued to watch people visit with vendors and others stopping to rest. One lady told me what it was like to have 13 siblings. Her dad named her Ernestine because he wanted a boy.
The weather was really nice this year — no rain, and during the only hot days, I’d find a shady spot under the many trees on the fairgrounds. There is a large area north of the little train station, where many benches are available. The train is full of people taking the ride through the grounds — little kids, grandparents, couples, teens, all ride.
I went through all the exhibit buildings filling my bag with handouts. The butter sculpture was being worked on at the beginning of the fair, so people could see how it was done. This year, a young man on a tricycle pulling a wagon with a pumpkin in it was on display made of butter.
There are changes each year, new vendors, remodeled, relocated stands. But I enjoy seeing the older ones in the same spot. I think Connies funnel cake stand was the very first funnel cake on the grounds, starting maybe 50 years ago and still in same location. Through the years as the fair grew, the number of vendors selling the same thing has increased. You can find funnel cakes, corn on the cob, corn dogs and more that offer the same things.
When I find a favorite, I return again. The cherry limeade at one stand was great, a large cup for less. They left the lime in the drink and hung a maraschino cherry stem clipped under the lid.
I tried a few new items, a grilled mac and cheese sandwich, macaroni hot dog and onion petals. But I went back to favorites I get each year — frosted flake chicken on a stick and sauerkraut pizza.
The Dairy Bar under the grandstand was remodeled. It’s a favorite stop for many. Jim and I made sure we had at least one cone of this K-State ice cream each year.
I got a free ticket for an ice cream when I went through the Farm Bureau exhibit starting at one point, filling out a quiz about farm products. I was impressed with their new locations and the fenced area where children played with large toys, farm trucks and tractors. I asked where they got such large toys. In Texas — I guess everything is bigger in Texas.
At the Oz building, the animal made by welding chains together was a large panther that appeared to be stalking his prey.
There are so many things I wanted to tell you about. After dark, the Ferris wheel was so beautiful. Red, white and the blue lights twinkled high above all to see. On Sept. 11, the flag was flown at half mast. Stopped at Cosmos spray painting booth watching his talented work, they always welcome me each year. I saw the acrobatic spectacular. Oh my, what dangerous stunts they do.
On the annual Master Farmer Day, it’s great to see my MF/MFH friends. At the evening meal, the guest speaker, Wade Weber, department head, 4-H state program leader for 4-H youth development at K-State program leader for 4-H youth development at K-State was an outstanding supporters of 4-H he said. As they travel down the road, they learn by doing.
Anita Davis presented a Quilt of Valor to Master Farmer David Reisig from Russell — a very touching ceremony.
Next year will be my 50th consecutive year walking at the Encampment building. Why don’t you plan to come to the Kansas State Fair in 2018. The fair always begins the first Friday after Labor Day. Hope to see you there.
Opal Flinn is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.