The Barton County Fair organizers were sweating away inside the steamy buildings at the Great Bend Expo Complex this weekend as they made their last-minute preparations for the event that opens Wednesday.
“It’s getting rolling,” said Charles Atkinson, Barton County Fair Association Executive Board president, of the frenetic pace. Pre-fair events have already taken place.
Atkinson said the fair is full of activities, exhibits, concerts, and food for the entire family. “It has become the perfect way for families to spend a week in the middle of summer.”
Now, they are just hoping for cooler weather.
In the fair’s 21 years, it has won 19 International Fairs and Festivals awards. “A lot of that success comes down to the participation we get from the community,” he said. Plus, the Friends of the Fair group’s decorations and themes set pretty high standards for the rest of the event to live up to.
Another part of the success has been the continuation of long-standing traditions while adding new activities.
“We have the old standbys,” he said, referring to things like the tractor pull. But, when selecting performers for the concerts, they try to find that up-and-coming act before they hit the big time.
In addition IFF awards, Barton County Fair has been designated as a Green Ribbon Fair sponsored by the United Soybean Board, Atkinson said. The Green Ribbon award is a national grant program awarded to 12 fairs for their focus using bio-friendly soy based products.
The grant will be used to purchase soy based products to be used at the fair, he said. Soy based paint is being used for the Expo III doors and they are adding soy based de-greaser this year. Barton County Fair has been incorporating soy based products for eight years. The carnival and all the equipment runs on bio-diesel, Soy based ink is used to print the fair books.
As for the fair itself, it opens Wednesday with the check-in process of all exhibits, 4-H and open class. “The diversity of the entries will provide everyone with something to inspire them whether it is the crafts or the animal exhibits,” Atkinson said.
Many of the winning 4-H exhibits will continue on to compete at the State Fair. Barton County Ag Challenge of Champions takes place on Wednesday as well. Local 4-H and FFA youths demonstrate their knowledge of agriculture in a competition that sends the winner on to the Kansas State Fair. The winner at the State Fair level receives a scholarship sponsored by the Kansas Fairs and Festivals Association.
Commercial exhibits open with a featured display by the Model Association of Central Kansas. There will be model airplanes of all shapes and sizes.
The Wagner Carnival will open Wednesday with Food Bank drive. One can bring a canned food donation and receive a discount on their wristband for that evening providing thrills and squeals.
Thursday will feature a style show on the free stage with local 4-Her’s decked out by local merchants. Come see the latest fashions available here in our community. The evening concludes with the Christian concert featuring Cloverton. The band now based in Nashville, began their musical journey in Manhattan. Their latest release “Take Me Into the Beautiful” has been receiving attention on radio stations like KLOVE and was the number one most down loaded song on KLOVE.
Friday is the Business Appreciation Breakfast. The Barton County Extension Council hosts a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. open to all early bird business professionals. On the night of Friday the 13th, Hells Bells, an AC/DC tribute band, takes the stage.
Saturday is Kids Day. The Damon Family Car/Truck/Motorcycle Show is a fun stroll for the entire family. Expo III will feature mutton bustin’ and kid’s ranch rodeo. Take a moment to enjoy the ATV races and then stop by the antique tractor pull.
After lunch, its back to Expo II for the kid and adult tractor pedal pull. Finish the evening enjoying Australia’s newest country act, The McClymonts. The land down under that gave the world Keith Urban has given us CMT’s 2011 Global Country Artists of the Year.
Sunday concludes the festivities with the 4-H beef barbecue. Expo III will be the place to be for the 4-H Sale of Champions.
This year, the fair is emphasizing the theme “Always in Season.” “This reflects that the Barton County Fair is not just a summer event but is involved in activities in the community throughout the year,” Atkinson said.
“We want everyone to come out and see how things are decorated.”
Starting in February, they warm everyone up at the annual Winter Q barbecue contest. Spring is welcomed with heart stopping fun at Bulls Gone Wild during the Spring Expo followed by the Golden Belt Beef Show. They also help support the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Show. Summer features the annual Fair and they also assist with the community fireworks show. They round the year out with the annual Holiday Home Tour.
Get a complete schedule of events and more information, go to bartoncountyfair.com or call 620-797-3247.