2021 Kansas State Fair Preview: New food, new fun and COVID-19 mitigation efforts

Olivia Perkins/Hutchinson News
The Kansas State Fair will be held from Sept. 10 to 19. Tickets can be purchased online, at fair entrances and some are available at local Dillons stores.

The Kansas State Fair will open this Friday for the first time in two years since the lockdown in 2020. This year’s Fair is filled with a myriad of events and attractions, as well as COVID mitigations and masks.

The Fair is expecting between 325,000 and 350,000 people to attend, matching their average numbers from 2019’s fair, but Kansas State Fair’s new General Manager Bryan Schulz said they hoped for more.

“We have a huge line-up this year in attractions, so we’re hoping to draw in a crowd,” said Schulz.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the traveling pictorial memorial "Remembering Our Fallen" from Kansas will be on display in the Pride of Kansas building throughout the 2021 Kansas State Fair.

9/11 remembrance 

The Pride of Kansas building will host a 9/11 Remembrance photo wall depicting Kansans who lost their lives over the last 20 years, including military service members and military personnel.

"It’ll be a big draw for people coming in since it’s the 20th anniversary [of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001],” Schulz said.

FFA, animal events 

Special Olympian athlete Grady Mercer, right, from Galena, shows "Emily," a boer goat with mentor Katie Mongeau from Finney County, during the inaugural Champions Livestock Show in Sept. 2020, at the Kansas State Fair.

Throughout this year’s fair, there will also be nearly 6,300 animals involved in 4-H events and FFA events. The first weekend alone will host approximately 3,600 animals within the Expo Centers and other arenas.

One event will include a Legislative Showmanship at the Prairie Pavilion on the first Saturday, where 15 Kansas legislators will teach young showmen the proper technique and style to show their cattle.

More:State Fair Board awards $1.2 million contract for long-awaited work on Expo building

State Fair concerts, Grandstand 

This year’s Grandstand lineup will include popular artists like Nelly and Willie Jones on Sept. 18, the Newsboys and Adam Agee on Wednesday, Sept. 15, Nex-Gen Bull Riding tour the first Friday and Chris Janson on Sept. 17.

Eating contest, The Voice and American Idol contestants

At Peoples Bank and Trust arena, there will be a Pronto Pup eating contest where contestants will attempt to eat as many corn dogs as physically possible within 10 minutes on Sunday, Sept. 19. The arena will also host The Voice’s Casi Joy and American Idol Contestant Makayla Brownlee on Sept. 15.

People can enjoy the midway rides at the Kansas State Fair this year from Sept. 10-19.

State Fair food

There will be new food throughout the fairgrounds like Krispy Kreme hot dogs, Honey Bunn burgers, and new fried cheesecake bites, where small cubes of cheesecake will be deep-fried and served with a myriad of different sauces.

Schulz reflected on his favorite part about the fair, and concluded it was “to see the smiles of the people who come through the gates, from 0-105 years of age, everyone can enjoy the fair,” Schulz said.

More:No shade at the state fair's House of Capper

COVID-19 precautions from masks to vaccines

Rides light up along the midway during an evening at the Kansas State Fair in this file photo.

2020’s Kansas State Fair was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, but this year the fair will include some measures to help keep people safe. That includes recommended mask-wearing when indoors or out, along with -- when possible -- maintaining six feet between other attendees.

This will be supplemented by fair staff providing more than 100,000 face masks for those who do not have one but would like one upon entry.

Another way the fair staff is executing COVID-19 mitigation is by partnering with the Kansas Department of Health in the Meadowlark Building, where every day of the fair there will be free vaccinations and testing for those desiring it.

“We’re so lucky to have great partners,” Schulz said, “and we want everyone to be a part of the fun that the Kansas State Fair is.”

More:Local COVID-19 hospitalizations shot up again this week

Kansas State Fair tickets

Buy Kansas State Fair Tickets

Purchasing tickets for the fair is fairly simple. On their website, if you navigate to the homepage, there will be a drop-down menu titled “Buy Tickets” where attendees can purchase tickets at a discount before Sept. 10.

For in-person ticket purchases, the fair’s ticket office is located at 2000 N. Poplar or any Kansas Dillons store.

This year marks the 100th anniversary for Dillons sponsoring and participating as a vendor at the Fair. Dillons supports their $1 Dollar day as well as involvement with Tasty Tuesday, a line-up of participating vendors allowing attendees to try their different foods.