Sitting on a table at the county fair are a pair of wooden models — one a tank, the other a military cargo plane/gunship the tank fits into. Both were constructed from scratch, and both will be judged today.


Neither was built by a 4-H student.


The two pieces, which are accompanied by the magazine articles that contained the plans, were constructed by Robert Murphy and are entered in the open class. He entered Friday afternoon — as did 4-H woods contestants, 4-H food contestants, 4-H rocketry and a number of other divisions. Friday's fair also feature livestock check-ins, the Saddle Club Rodeo and the first night of the fair Carnival.


Murphy told The Kansan he didn't really build the models for the fair, but he entered them anyway.  


“I do this to have something to do during the winter,” Murphy said.


Entering the fair comes naturally these days for him — this is, he estimates, about the fourth year he has entered open class divisions at the fair. His wife Sara is a long-time leader of 4-H geology projects and has has helped countless 4-Hers enter the fair.


She smiled with pride as her husband entered his woodworking projects, and would love to see more open class participants in the fair.


“The more the better,” Sara said. “Lets see what people can do.”


For Robert, woodworking comes easy. He spent 40 years working for Brunswick building the lanes of bowling alleys. The wood for this year's projects came from scraps left from those days.


The AC-130 and accompanying M-1 tank are constructed primarily of maple scraps left from bowling lane construction projects.


“It was a challenge,” Robert said. “I had to find something big enough to create that nosecone. … It is different, and it is heavy.”


He estimates the plane took about 20 hours to construct.


His projects will be on display in the 4-H building at the fairgrounds throughout the fair. More open class entries for multiple categories are being accepted today.