County fairs are the highlight of the year for many 4-H and FFA members and others in the community, and after nearly a year of preparations, the 108th annual Labette County Fair is almost here.
“We are really striving to make sure we are providing good value and service to the local community,” said Kyle McKinzie, Labette County Fair board president. “The 14 other board members and myself all appreciate the support we get from the local community, and we want to make sure we deliver a county fair they can all be proud of.”
This is the first year as fair board president for McKinzie, who showed livestock in the fair as a kid and has been a fair board member for six years.
“Many of my best memories growing up were around the fair,” he said, “and I look forward to being involved for many more years to help make sure that the next generation of youth have the same opportunity.
“Preparation for the fair is truly a year-round activity,” he continued. “We start planning for the next year’s fair as soon as the current year is wrapping up.”
Part of that preparation is determining what has worked in the past and what changes need to be made to make the fair more successful and to keep it entertaining.
“We are welcoming a new Kid’s Carnival this year to replace the bounce houses we’ve had in the past,” McKinzie said. The carnival, sponsored by Labette Bank, will be located at the main entrance of the fairgrounds and will feature four rides and three bounce houses.
“We’re also going to be opening a new restroom near the horse and hog barns,” he said. “This facility will benefit 4-H and FFA exhibitors and show spectators by offering an air-conditioned bathroom in close proximity to the livestock barns and show arena.”
The restroom was made possible in large part due to a grant from the Parsons Area Community Foundation.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a great deal of support from the local community that has allowed us to do some major facilities projects like the arena concession stand and restroom, the Maurice Wyckoff Equine Pavilion, and now the livestock barn restroom facility,” he said.
Maintaining the facilities to keep them in good condition and planning and executing new projects around the fairgrounds take a great deal of work year-round, he added.
“Prior to last year’s fair, we instituted a mandatory two-hour volunteer time for all 4-H and FFA exhibitors who wish to participate in the livestock sale,” McKinzie said. “That policy has allowed us to stay on top of painting and upkeep around the fairgrounds and has received a great deal of positive feedback.”
The fair board has also kept affordable entertainment a priority. The fair offers a great line-up of entertainment each night of the show.
“We’re offering a complimentary hamburger feed with admission to the rodeo on Tuesday night, and a complimentary barbecue feed with the bull riding on Thursday night,” he said. “Either of those nights can get a family of four in the gate, fed and entertained for less than the cost of movie tickets, and we really like that.”
The fair’s importance to the community is evident in the tremendous amount of support received from local organizations and individuals.
“That support has allowed us to have the largest livestock premium sale in the area, continue to produce a full slate of five night shows, and make significant investments in our facilities,” McKinzie said. “That all adds up to being able to have a successful fair this year and for many years to come.”
The Labette County Fair will be held July 20-27 at the fairgrounds in Oswego, Kansas. See the full schedule for the Labette County Fair on pages 12 and 13 of this week's issue of Farm Talk Newspaper or visit www.labettecountyfair.com.