Record crowds and beautiful weather contributed to a successful 2015 Kansas State Fair. We want to highlight those who continue to work hard to make the fair a purposeful and entertaining occasion for 2016.

The state fair is the largest event in the state of Kansas, and it is only possible through the support of an engaged community. There is a great respect for ALL who contribute to the success of the fair.

As a state agency, but as a fee-fund agency, the Kansas State Fair does not operate with tax dollars from the state general fund. The fair operates with those revenues generated by the fair. Historically, 90 percent of fair revenues are receipted during the annual event and the remaining 10 percent during non-fair events held throughout the year.

Revenues are generated primarily through gate admissions to the fair, commercial exhibitors who rent space, food and beverage concessionaires who pay a percentage, the midway, and through the participation of competitive exhibitors. Valued sponsorships and recognition for support are also key components in making this a successful event.

Record participation for last year’s fair is surely relative to a positive economic impact for our community. However, with an approximate $150,000 increase in known expenses this year due to new stormwater fees and increased utilities, expenses are at an all-time high.

As challenging as it can be, change can also be energizing. Our focus is to stay true to our mission and values and to best serve the changing needs of the people of Kansas, while honoring our longtime traditions.

The Kansas State Fair Mission Statement: To promote and showcase Kansas agriculture, industry and culture; to create opportunity for commercial activity; and to provide an educational and entertaining experience that is the pride of all Kansans.

Every day, I look forward to coming to the fair! It is humbling to work with the Kansas State Fair Board, the Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation, a terrific staff and a wonderful team of people who make the fair possible. We are fortunate to have a great appreciation for the emphasis placed on our mission and purpose to provide an educational and entertaining experience.

There is much to be optimistic about as we move forward with a new master plan and eagerness to engage as many partners as possible in our mission to provide an experience that is truly the pride of all Kansans.

As the Kansas State Fair celebrates a long history, it is exciting to be a part of its future. Being part of the fair is a great way to give back to the community by celebrating our deep heritage. Success comes through working with a great team – staff, volunteers, sponsors, loyal fairgoers – who are the heart of the fair and its legacy to Kansans and who serve as a building block to our community.

Susan Sankey became the Kansas State Fair's general manager in December 2015. She lives in Rice County.