Better luck next year, troopers.

The Kansas Highway Patrol’s recent dominance in the celebrity goat milking contest came to an end Friday. A seven-time winner, the law enforcement agency didn’t even make it to the finals.

Instead, representatives from two Wichita radio stations, T-95 “The Rock” and 104.5 “The Fox,” went head-to-head for the title.

“If you don’t think there will be some rhetoric on the air after this,” emcee Warren Hardy said as the two groups prepared for the final bout.

In addition to those three organizations, five other teams squared off this year in the contest to extract the most milk from their udderly compliant volunteers: High Plains Journal, KWBW Radio, KWCH Channel 12, the Kansas State Fair Board and The Hutchinson News.

The first heat turned out to be very tepid. After participants pinched and tugged for their allotted 45 seconds, the High Plains Journal crew had collected such a scant amount of liquid that it didn’t register on the scale.

“What a miserable effort,” Hardy said jokingly. “It’s pretty evident you guys didn’t cheat.”

Heat No. 3 featured the hometown Hutchinson News versus a squad from KWCH. News newcomers Ron Sylvester, managing editor, photography intern Jacob Byk and reporter Ashley Booker gave an enthusiastic effort, but their collection also barely made a blip on the scale.

Of the team’s three members, only Booker was able to coax a discernible amount of milk from their chosen goat. The Garden City native was tabbed the team’s best hope, despite never milking a goat before.

“I may or may not have Googled ‘How to milk a goat,’ “ she admitted afterward.

The fourth round should have been the KHP’s chance to stake their claim to an eighth victory, and from their sure hands it appeared they had a good shot.

“Fair board, I hope you’re doing OK over there, because this thing is leaking like a sieve,” Hardy said as the troopers tugged confidently. But they were ousted by the upstart radio stations.

Brandon Miller, a master trooper from Phillips County, was at a loss for words after his team’s disappointing dismissal. “Not enough practice,” he said.

That the “Misfit Foxes,” as the 104.5 team called themselves, were able to come out on top is a testament that it’s not always experience that rules the day. During introductions, Hardy explained that team member Amber Glaze had never even seen a goat before and was “probably not even sure which end of the goat we’re dealing with.”

But there she stood in the winner’s circle as they were presented with the trophy.

“It’s just like a piping bag to ice a cupcake,” she said. “Anybody can do this.”

– Ryan Christner

Blue-ribbon builders

As always, Kansas 4-H’ers are showing off their creativity through visual artwork displayed in 4-H Centennial Hall.

Among them is a large Ferris wheel made of Legos, made by Michaela Blockcolsky of Pottawatomie County. Meanwhile, Walker Clawson of Meade County used spent red, white and blue shotgun shells to make an American flag.

Breana Park, Ellis County, also showed her outdoors spirit with a papier-mache red, white and blue buck deer head.

These pieces, among several others, won top ribbons at the county level. However, said Beth Hinshaw, the area 4-H specialist, because of the varieties of artwork and free expression, the work is not judged at the state level.

However, 25 pieces are chosen to be displayed for a year at Rock Springs 4-H Camp. Among the ones chosen is a garden landscape and a painting of Darth Vader.

– Amy Bickel

EMS booth ensures folks are “Stayin’ Alive”

The State of Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services is offering blood pressure testing, has an ambulance on display and is providing introductions to hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

In the CPR introduction, trainees are instructed to do chest compressions at the same rate as the beat in the Bee Gees’ disco hit “Stayin’ Alive.”

“We all learned from that song because it’s the right beat,” said Sheri Barron of Hoisington EMS, who was working at the booth Friday.

The song’s tempo is around 100 beats per minute, which is in the range recommended for chest compressions in CPR. Before “Stayin’ Alive” was used in CPR training, another song that was used was “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen.

Barron estimated that more than 100 people, mostly children, had taken the quick introductory course that day by 3 p.m. A similar number of people had their blood pressure checked.

- Adam Stewart

Health issues vary

Jennifer Ladd, a paramedic running the fair’s first aid station, said that overall this year has been pretty average for the total number of health issues, although the specifics have fluctuated.

Ladd said there have been more heart attacks and strokes this year than normal, as well as people suffering heat-related illnesses. Warm weather probably contributed to that. Even on the milder days, though, a lot of the people who have had issues aren’t used to all the walking they do at the fair, typically between 2 and 6 miles in a day, she said.

“We always tell people the first symptom is denial,” she said.

Ladd said she would encourage anyone with existing health issues to make use of the Sky Ride or tram to get around the fairgrounds.

She said she has seen more than 100 people so far, and the total will probably climb to 200 before the fair finishes on Sunday.

There also have been the usual falls, scrapes, bumps and bruises. More of those have come from outside the fairgrounds than usual, thanks to uneven sidewalks from street construction, Ladd said.

As of midafternoon on Friday, this year has been unusually quiet as far as accidents with livestock, she said. There really haven’t been any serious such issues, which she said was really fortunate.

“Knock on wood,” she added.

– Adam Stewart

Class is in session

What’s Kansas’ Largest Classroom without a few students?

Amid the hundreds of thousands of fairgoers each year, you’ll find children of all ages scurrying about, typically with teachers or chaperones in tow. Sure, some may be cutting class to catch the excitement, but most are taking part in the Kansas State Fair’s education program.

Kansas’ Largest Classroom brings, on average, about 5,000 to 6,000 students to the fairgrounds every year, said Anthea Bryant, non-fair events director. The program supplies teachers with materials they can use for planning a field trip, including lesson plans, trivia games and listings of educational activities at the fair.

“It can be very useful and creative, depending on how much time they want to put into it,” Bryant said.

Friday afternoon, several groups of students bustled around the Birthing Center while looking for answers on scavenger hunt worksheets. Jaylen Bennett and Urian Silva, two seventh-graders from Mayberry Middle School in Wichita, had never been to the fair before and didn’t know what to expect.

“I thought it was only going to be the rides,” 12-year-old Silva said.

Bennett, 13, added that the questions provided by his teacher weren’t easy and he and his peers had to do quite a bit of searching for answers. They included listing animals that could be found at the fair, naming buildings and four things found inside, and explaining why children show animals.

Seventh-graders from Christa McAuliffe Academy, also in Wichita, were answering their own set of questions. Among their topics were naming universities represented at the fair and describing competitions that middle schoolers can participate in.

The majority of student visitors come from the grade-school ranks, but all ages – from kindergarten through high school – are represnted. In the past, the fair has partnered with various schools in Hutchinson to bring classes to the event, said Interim Fair Manager Lori Hart. This year, all Reno County second grades were offered free trips.

Hart said the goal of the program is to teach kids STEAM concepts – that’s science, technology, engineering, art and math – as they relate to agriculture. Other educational fair events include a spelling bee, high school debate competitions and marching band exhibitions.

“It’s such a vast program,” Hart said.

– Ryan Christner