The Kansas State Fair is past -- did you get to go this year? Everyone in Kansas should try to see what it's all about, a least once in a lifetime. Seeing is believing.
The 2012 fair was the 100th fair. In 2013, the fair will be 100 years old. Plans are being made, pictures and memories are being collected to add history for the celebration. The fair is always the first Friday after Labor Day.
When you come to the fair, you will be given a map at the gate to help you find what you want to see.
There are street signs named after Kansas forts (Fort Hays Avenue is one). Building and parks are named after important people in Kansas or great fair leaders.
Be sure to wear good walking shoes, because you will walk many blocks. Centrally located is the large park under trees, filled with sturdy benches where you can sit, rest and people-watch.
Fair information is sent to all 105 Kansas counties. Take a look at your road map; it's hard to fathom how many people are reached -- not just 4-Hers, FFA members, farmers, homemakers and schoolchildren, but people in all walks of life. Not just Kansans come to the fair. People from other states also come to exhibit, to be vendors and to perform.
What's old is comfortable; what's new perks up curiosity.
The Encampment Building is old but, guess what, we got a lot of new mattresses this year. Great.
The chainsaw artist again was making awesome wooden creations and statues to be sold at auction.
The butter sculpture in the Pride of Kansas Building was back. This year, the lady sculptor still was working on the sculpture the first weekend (on purpose) so people could watch her work in the cold display area.
I've become a fan of the Spam contest; I gotta watch the judging each year. This year, the junior division winners made a big spam cheese ball. In the senior division, the winner was crisp spam sticks dipped in horseradish sauce. Not sure I'm a fan of Spam -- just the contest.
I'm also a fan of Rusty Rierson, a cute country singer sponsored by Roy Frey Western and Mid America Ag Network. He sang with his guitar each day beside Larry Stecklein's motor home.
The big cow was back again from Pennsylvania, and thousands of people got a free cup of Turkey Hill ice cream. They ran out the first weekend. According to the Hutchinson News, they handed out 13,000 cups and had to go back to Pennsylvania for another supply. They served Turkey Hill sweet tea mid-week.
There is everything from A to Z. I didn't get to even half the exhibits, not possible. I'm so glad I have the walker Jim and I bought three years ago -- easier to walk and I have a seat when I need it.
Each day, the schedule changes. At the Gottschalk Gazebo, Lake Talbott stage and Bretz Law Arena, the entertainment is free, and bleachers and seating are available.
What else did I do? I rode the trolley around the fairgrounds. There are two trolleys pulled by tractors offering free rides all day long, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- just catch a ride at one of the many trolley stops.
I went through the 4-H exhibit building, marveled at the fabulous entries. I watched the carnival rides, so colorful at night, noisy and packed with people.
I watched the "How to Wash a Chicken" demonstration -- amazed at the crowd that gathered each day to see this 5-minute demo.
I saw the sea lion show, Ron Diamond the comic hypnotist, a motorcycle parade of more than 200 bikes. I ate food. New this year -- fried thin mints, carrot funnel cake, sweet potato blossom, cucumber boats. I tried the sweet-potato blossom, a large plate piled high with thin chips, big enough for two or three (but I ate the whole thing). Later shared one with my daughter.
I purchased the "100 Years of Kansas State Fair: Never Gets Old" cookbook, created by Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation, filled with award-winning recipes, historical photos and great tidbits.
Thursday was Master Farmer-Master Farm Homemaker Day at the fair. The meetings and meals were at the encampment. At the evening meal, Ron Wilson, cowboy poet, entertained us. Superb!
I didn't mention art, photography, quilts, animals and machinery. Honestly, there's much more.
My shift each day at the dorm was 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. I had a lot of company -- my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren stopped by. My son took me to Wichita one afternoon to meet my newest great-grandson, Bennett, born Sept. 1.
I'd be out on the grounds during the day. When I came back to the dorm, I learned to play Speed Scrabble from the 4-Hers. It's fun; I'd be glad to show you how to play.
I'm glad to have a small part in the huge enterprise we Kansans should be bursting with pride over. If you have never attended, 2013 would be the perfect time. You're invited!
Opal Flinn, Ellis, is a member of the Hays Daily News Generations advisory group.