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Archive for Monday, September 20, 2010

Kansas State Fair ends; organizers pleased with large crowds

September 20, 2010

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— As the Kansas State Fair wrapped up Sunday, organizers, vendors and fairgoers seemed pleased with this year's 10-day event.

"We certainly feel real good about how it's gone," said fair manager Denny Stoecklein. "It's been a great run."

Though official numbers on admission and vendor sales won't be in for a few weeks, Stoecklein said initial indicators are looking good. He said last year's revenues were the highest the fair had seen in 10 years.

"So if we can come close to equaling that, we will not be disappointed," he said. "It's hard to speculate at this point, but my feeling is it's going to be really close to what they were. We're really happy."

With mostly sunny days, and a few cooler days in the mix, the weather this year has been a buoy for business.

Sunday's Selena Gomez concert looked to be the most successful concert this year. Stoecklein projected at least 8,400 tickets were sold to the 4 p.m. show. Even after the 18-year-old Disney Channel star got through several songs, lines remained at the grandstand ticket office.

"We're just pleased as punch," Stoecklein said.

He said a representative with North American Midway Entertainment, which runs the fair's midway games and rides, reported that last year was a record for the company at the Kansas State Fair.

"He said if they did a good Sunday today, they'd beat that," Stoecklein said.

Stoecklein said food vendors are reporting strong sales so far this year as well.

Paula Koehler, owner of the food stand Chubbs & Spudds, said the stand has seen many customers throughout the 10-day fair.

"It's been an exceptional year," she said. "It just keeps getting better."

Chubbs & Spudds offers fair favorites like deep-fried candy bars and fried pickles - the most popular item for the stand this fair season.

Koehler said she tries to come up with new varieties of fair food. This year, the stand started offering fried green beans for the first time. But she said she doesn't think she'll ever offer any items as wacky as the Krispy Kreme doughnut burger that was offered down the way by the Carousel Cafe. The burger, sandwiched between a glazed doughnut, is looking to be this year's hottest high-calorie delicacy — in Hutchinson and fairs across the country.

"I'm sorry, but that just doesn't sound good," she said. "I'd rather stick with what I've got."

After spending several hours on tearing down the trailer and packing up equipment, she and her staff head south to the Tulsa State Fair, which begins Sept. 30. Koehler, who is based in Plainville, travels to 10 shows each season. After Tulsa, the crew heads to Independence for the late-October Neewollah festival, which will conclude their season.

She said she does the most business in Tulsa, but she still enjoys her time in Hutchinson. She points at her location as her secret to success.

"We love it here," she said. "We're right by the big slide and the lottery building. It's perfect."

Of course, the fair isn't just about money. Hundreds of thousands of regular folks enjoyed the food, entertainment and family fun.

"It's just so much fun," said Susan Crain, who spent Sunday checking out exhibitors with her teenage daughter.

Crain has visited the fair annually since moving to Yoder five years ago. She remains impressed with the quality and expansiveness of the fair's offerings.

"There's just so much," she said. "I think it's just a really well-kept and organized scene, especially with so many people."

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