Kansas State Fair: A winning combination

Posted September 22, 2014

It takes a lot of work to get the glowing Ferris Wheel spinning, just like it takes work setting up the Ye Old Mill, grooming competition livestock, making the thousands of funnel cakes and cheese curds and keeping the fairgrounds a clean environment for families to enjoy. But most people don’t think about the behind the scenes work it takes to get the competitions and booths off the ground in order to make the fair a success. 

Kansas Wheat has been a proud supporter of many Kansas State Fair classes for years. With classes in the foods, agriculture and fine arts divisions, the entries received are vastly different, but all celebrate the state’s most famous commodity. Kansas Wheat has even utilized some of the top recipes throughout the years in future publications, like the cracker bread seen in the 2014 Kansas Wheat Recipe Book.

“Even though we sponsor because of our close connections to the organization, we also like to see it as an investment for Kansas farmers,” said Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. “With sponsorship of the 4-H and junior open classes, we’re investing in the future of the wheat industry. And with the foods and fine arts divisions, we’re reinvesting in some of our biggest supporters. We feel good about sponsoring these competitions at the Kansas State Fair every year, and every year it’s amazing to see what the participants can do.”

The classes that Kansas Wheat sponsors are the adult and junior open class bread made with 50% whole grain ingredients, Kansas wheat bread basket, wheat weaving, wheat photography and the 4-H wheat variety plot program.  This year’s winners were Rebecca Larson-Hatch, of Kechi, in the adult whole grain class; Natalia MacArthur, of Haven, in the junior whole grain class; Wilma Olds, of Wilson, in the Kansas wheat bread basket class, Star Novak, of Lecompton, in the wheat photography class; and Jael Ann Hoover, of Abilene, for the 4-H wheat variety plot program. 

The Kansas Wheat booth, located in the Pride of Kansas building, would not have been possible without the hard work of the Speak for Wheat Spokespersons. These hard-working individuals worked both at the Kansas Wheat booth, as well as Agriland, the educational area sponsored in part by Kansas Wheat. Those who volunteered for the events included Betty Kandt, Jan Stephens, Donna Martinson, Kris Wallace, Debra Kruse, Jessica Blake, Erin Laurie, Julene DeRouchey, Mary Beth Bowers, Jay Warner, Donna Keyser, Richard and Glenda Randall, Ann Domsch, Jean Ann Troutt, Steve Korthanke, Ann Kuhlman and Cherry Coen.

Early reports estimate that this year’s attendance will beat last year’s 340,000 visitors, although the exact numbers won’t be released for another few weeks. This year marked the fair’s 101st anniversary. This year’s exhibitor numbers were also strong, according to K-State Research and Extension. There were somewhere between 10,000-11,000 total exhibits through 4-H or FFA, with many more through open classes. Other activities during the fair included a menagerie of rides, concerts from a variety of genres, petting zoos, livestock shows, pig races, sky rides and much more. Kansas Wheat saw a near constant stream of visitors at the organizations’ booth and handed out nearly 10,000 2014 Recipe Books and more than 11,000 pieces of other educational materials.