The craziness has begun.
The quilts are hanging. The fryers are hot. The giant pumpkins have been weighed.
The 102nd Kansas State Fair kicks off at 11 a.m. today. Here’s some of the can’t-miss activities happening during this year’s 10-day event.
It’s all butter
I won’t tell you what the fair’s 1,000 pounds of butter is transformed into this year. It is top secret until the unveiling today. But I did peek.
And let’s just say it is all about the stick. This year’s work is bittersweet. Longtime butter sculptor Sharon BuMann crafted her 15th sculpture – and last work for the fair. Someone new will be designing the 2016 exhibit, said interim fair manager Lori Hart.
Butter sculptors have been a popular exhibit at the state fair since 1983. Each year a massive sculpture is created out of roughly 1,000 pounds of butter.
BuMann said last year it takes about 85 hours for the sculpture to be completed inside the walk-in freezer in the Pride of Kansas Building, which is a glass exhibit allowing fairgoers to view the finished product.
Gottschalk Park feature
Bruno’s Tigers is the feature at the free Gottschalk Park event. Featured is a third-generation tiger trainer in the family. Bruno’s show features the world’s only tightrope-walking tiger. Among the performers are Royal Bengal and Siberian tigers.
Movie under the stars
At 8 p.m. Sept. 19, the fair will show a free movie at Lake Talbott, “The Lego Movie.”
Gary Keenan demonstrates his artistic skills by turning wood into sculptures via a chainsaw. Find him daily north of Lake Talbott stage.
Don’t miss the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales at the fair today and Saturday, which are located at Expo II by Gate 9. The Clydesdales will parade around the grounds daily.
50 people against one chess master
Gabriel Purdy, one of the state’s top chess masters, will play 50 different games of chess at one time. The public can play or watch. All skill levels are welcome. but play is limited to the first 50 registrants.
The event is at 11 a.m. Thursday at the House of Capper.
Comic hypnotist and a lot of other free acts
Unless you are going to a grandstand concert, there are plenty of performances that won’t cost you a dime.
It’s always fun to watch the pigs race around the sawdust track near the Bison Arena. The fair also has plenty of free roving acts, including a stiltwalker, Pogo Fred, Oscar the Robot and – back by popular demand – Rock-It the Robot.
Several stages have free music performances, including the Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers Arena and the Lake Talbott stage.
However, one act that never gets old is comic hypnotist Ron Diamond. As an entertainer, he amazes audiences with demonstrations of the power of hypnosis.
Diamond performs daily at the Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers Arena and will be adding a evening performance on selected dates.
Cool new contests
Those hoping to sport the best groomed, longest and most unique beards will take to the stage in the Beard and Mustache Competition, which is at 1 p.m. Saturday. There is even a fake beard contest for the ladies.
Also, it is all about the bacon in the Fried ‘N’ Joy Bacon competition. Judging begins at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Domestic Arts Building.
On Sept. 19, there is a homemade ice cream contest. And at 9 a.m., there is a Lego Bricks Building Contest at the Oz Gallery.
But let’s not forget the oldies but goodies, too.
Check out the Duct Tape contest at the Oz Gallery and the great pumpkin contest at the Pride of Kansas Building. Meanwhile, youth will partake in the Kansas Kids Got Talent finals the last Sunday, as well as the Mutton Bustin’ championships at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Expo Center.
And for those fans of the Governor’s Cookie Jar, Sam Brownback will bestow the honors to the best jar during Governor’s Day on Thursday.
Brownback also is expected at the fair, briefly, the first Saturday.
After all, while Pronto Pups are a staple food, politician sightings are also tradition.
Many will have booths, including Sen. Jerry Moran. WIBW’s annual forum at 11 a.m. Saturday will feature Sen. Pat Roberts and Rep. Kevin Yoder.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers will show livestock at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Prairie Pavilion.
But for those a little more nostalgic, check out the “Senior Senators” tour Sept. 19 with Bob Dole and Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker. The duo will be in the Pride of Kansas Building.