September 19, 2023
Thoughts on the Kansas State Fair
The Kansas State Fair ended Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Kansans walked the grounds, ate Pronto Pups and funnel cake, attended concerts, and engaged in other fun activities. It is my assertion that the Kansas State Fair would be a shadow of itself without Kansas State University, Cooperative Extension, 4-H, and FFA and the efforts of our extension professionals and volunteers.
This year, we had 7,415 static 4-H entries exhibited. That is an increase over the 2022 Kansas State Fair. Our youth livestock numbers seemed very strong, and many of the livestock exhibitors in the open classes were also 4-H and FFA members. Because of these exhibitors, many moms and dads, sisters and brothers, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, cousins, and family friends came to the Kansas State Fair to look on with pride at what their favorite 4-Her or FFA member accomplished with their project.
Those project numbers also represent a lot of work by our colleagues and volunteers. They mentored the youth, made sure their projects got enrolled, helped organize the judging, answered the public’s questions about the exhibits, and even transported the exhibits to and from the Kansas State Fair.
Of course, one of the more engaging booths at the Kansas State Fair is our College of Agriculture and K-State Research and Extension booth. The booth is staffed by our colleagues and student ambassadors, and many people come to it to take our quiz wheel challenge. It is often so successful that we sometimes have to remove the quiz wheel as the crowd around it often hinders the flow of traffic in the building. That is a good problem to have. That booth is not successful without your willingness to staff it.
Many people in K-State Research and Extension don’t realize how important extension is to the Kansas State Fair Board. This board is responsible for working with the Kansas State Fair general manager, Bryan Schulz, and his staff in determining policies, procedures, and strategic direction of the Kansas State Fair.
There are 13 members on this board, and six represent K-State Research and Extension. One board member represents the Director for Extension. I have fulfilled these duties since 2017, but Sarah Maass (director of Kansas 4-H youth development) will be representing me in the future.
We also have five volunteer representatives. These representatives are nominated by extension administration and approved and appointed by the Kansas governor for a three-year term. Each represents one of five geographical districts: the northeast, southeast, south central, northwest, and southwest. Our five volunteer board members are John Leslie (northeast), Kathy Brazle (southeast), Sarah Green (south central), Nick Ketzner (northwest) and Harmon Bliss (southwest).
Like you and I, these five volunteers are deeply passionate about extension, 4-H, FFA, and the Kansas State Fair.
As you can see, extension is incredibly important to the Kansas State Fair. Thank you for your help in making this year's - as well as past and future - Kansas State Fairs a success.