Hutchinson With an election looming, the Kansas State Fair will be serving up politics along with its usual livestock, entertainment and food when it kicks off this weekend.
About 325,000 people are expected to attend the fair at the renovated fairgrounds in Hutchinson. It opens Friday and continues through Sept. 17.
On Saturday, the fair will host the first debate between Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and her Republican challenger, Jim Barnett. The debate - the first of four planned before the election - begins at 11 a.m. in the Farm Bureau Arena.
Rep. Jerry Moran will be back at the fair this year to discuss current issues. The Republican congressman, who is running for re-election in the 1st District, will have a booth on the fairgrounds.
Kansas Farm Bureau is planning its annual agricultural leadership breakfast Saturday to coincide with the fair. Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Georgia, will talk about the upcoming farm bill.
Kansas Agriculture Secretary Adrian Polansky also will be at the fair Saturday to tout the so-called 25x'25 renewable energy goal, a vision for meeting 25 percent of the nation's energy needs with renewable resources by the year 2025. A discussion of the initiative is planned for noon.
The dose of politics comes at a fair designed to appeal to a wide range of people.
There is the Mariachi Zapata band, which will be performing throughout the fairgrounds and give a special performance Sept. 16 on Lake Talbott Stage. Some of the grandstand music lineups include Trace Adkins with Miranda Lambert on Sept. 13 and The Steve Miller Band on Sept. 17.
Coming back to Kansas after a six-year traveling tour is Gus Grissom's Mercury spacecraft, Liberty Bell 7. The restored capsule will be on display Sept. 16 and 17 before it is placed back into the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center.
Also returning after an absence of several years are two demolition derbies, one for automobiles, the other for combines.