HUTCHINSON — The Kansas State Fair is more than just a fair — it’s a celebration of Kansas, a family tradition, a fun and exciting experience for people of all ages.
For 106 uninterrupted years, the Fair has been the state’s largest gathering of Kansans — with not even the Spanish flu or World Wars halting the annual end-of-summer rite.
This year, however, will be different.
The Kansas State Fair Board reconsidered their previous, June 30 action to have the 10-day event and voted Monday to cancel the 2020 Fair. Circumstances, including several big vendors pulling out for this year, forced them to reconsider the decision. This year’s Fair was scheduled for Sept. 11-20.
While the traditional Fair won’t happen, staff is working to host both open class and youth livestock shows over three weekends starting Labor Day weekend. This includes the state’s premier Grand Drive youth show, which will take place Sept. 11-13. The board also will evaluate potential activities in the next month. More information on livestock events is available at https://www.kansasstatefair.com/p/participate/2020-livestock-showcase-release.
At the late June meeting, the board was presented a plan to have a full and safe Fair following current health guidelines. Because of the cancellation of other fairs across the Midwest, some vendors – part of a large fair circuit – couldn’t feasibly travel just to Kansas. Others reported a shortage of employees because many of their workers are over 65. Employers didn’t want to put employees at risk.
Also, some vendors had already expressed concerns with the current COVID-19 upsurge and had planned to not attend this year.
“While we knew this year’s Fair was going to be different, we realized we weren’t going to be able to provide the same annual tradition that Fairgoers have come to expect,” said Fair Board President Harmon Bliss. “While we are heartbroken there will not be a Kansas State Fair this year, we want to make sure the Fair is on solid footing for another 100 years.”
The first official Kansas State Fair was held in Hutchinson in 1913. This will be the first time in its history that the Fair has not happened.
The Fair contributes an estimated $74.6 million to the Kansas economy annually, according to a 2018 report by the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The economic impact in the Fair’s 60-mile radius is more than $40 million.
All Tickets To Be Honored in 2021
All gate admission tickets, packages and food tickets already purchased will be valid for the 2021 Kansas State Fair. Staff is currently working to reschedule the 2020 Nex-Tech Wireless Grandstand lineup. If rescheduled, those tickets also will be honored at next year’s Fair. How to obtain refunds will be announced soon.
More information will be on the Fair’s website – kansasstatefair.com – by Tuesday.
The 2021 Kansas State Fair is Sept. 10-19.
“We don’t know what the situation in Kansas will look like in September. But decisions must be made on what we know today,” Bliss said. “Not seeing families and friends in 2020 will be disappointing. After all, the Kansas State Fair is not just an event. It is a tradition. It is a way of life. It is a showcase of the best of Kansas.
“The 2021 Fair will be bigger and better, and we can’t wait to once again be a destination for families and friends to gather to make those lasting memories.”