Thank you to the Kansas State Fair for sponsoring this guide and inviting our team and their kids for a day of fair fun!
2018 Kansas State Fair
HOW TO GET THERE
If you’re coming from Wichita, it’s easy to get to Hutchinson:
1 – Take K-96 West until you get to the Yoder exit. Head north on Yoder road into Hutchinson, past the airport and it will turn into 17th Street. This road will take you right to the fairgrounds. If you want to avoid congestion during busy times, cut north to 30th Street and then come into the north side of the grounds on Plum or Main.
2- If you’re aiming for the west or northwest side of the grounds, consider taking K-96 to South Hutchinson and continue north to downtown Hutchinson, where you can take either Adams Street or Main Street. This avoids congestion on 17th and 23rd.
3 – Take I-35 North to Newton and head west on Highway 50 to the Yoder Road/Airport Road exit. Exit right and head north past the airport where it turns into 17th Street. This road will take you straight to the fairgrounds.
WHERE TO PARK
If you’re coming on the weekend, consider the free shuttle from the Hutchinson Mall southwest parking lot, which drops you at gate 1. This is especially helpful if it’s been raining, as the public lots can get quite muddy for strollers.
The Kansas State Fair offers FREE parking in three different lots. You’ll find several businesses near the fairgrounds that offer paid parking, but the fair makes it so easy to park and ride (with free shuttle service) that there’s really no need to pay the extra $5-$10 to park.
Parking Lots A and B: North of the fairgrounds, closest to Kiddieland equipment exhibits. You can also easily access the 4-H buildings from here—and the nursing room.
Parking Lot C: East of the grandstand. Perfect for concerts or the animal barns.
If you prefer walking through vendor buildings, side street parking off of Main street might be your best bet.
PARKING LOT SHUTTLE
There is a tractor-pulled tram that takes people from the parking lots to gates, but no tram on the grounds themselves.
A Family Guide to the 2018 Kansas State Fair
NEW THIS YEAR
“MOO U” BARN TOURS
These guided trips through the fairgrounds barns will take about 45 minutes each, and will be available all 10 days of the fair. Tours begin in the Livestock Annex at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, and 7pm daily, except no 10am tour on Sept. 7.
THE BUTTERFLY EXPERIENCE
An enclosed butterfly garden, where children and adults can walk among fluttering butterflies and watch caterpillars munch on plants, all while learning about the life cycle of a butterfly. Located at the east side of Lake Talbott. Open 9am-8pm daily.
TIMBERWORKS LUMBERJACK SHOW
Featuring a variety of lumberjack competitions, such as log rolling, speed climbing, axe throwing, speed carving, hot saw, and the always exciting springboard chop. Located at Gottschalk Park, show times are 11am, 1:30pm, and 6:30pm daily.
LASER LIGHT SHOWS
On Sept. 7, 8, and 9, the Nex-Tech Wireless Grandstand will light up after each nightʼs concert, thanks to an encore laser light show that plays along with popular music to create a dynamic late-night experience for fairgoers.
A high-energy group of percussionists relies, Street Drum Corps, sponsored by DirectTV, on various “street items” such as buckets and steel barrels, to produce a unique and mesmerizing sound. Robo Cars will transform right before your eyes!
KiddieLand is home to a variety of new inflatable fun stations. Mazes, a tower of terror, face painting, temporary tattoos, and fun “twisted” balloons will provide hours of fun for kids. Located west of 4-H Centennial Hall.
AUSTIN ANDERSON & TEXAS TRICK RIDERS
Featuring skilled riders and horses in the Bison Arena. Shows at 10 am, 1pm and 5pm from Sept. 7-12.
DEALS & STEALS
DILLON’S DOLLAR DAY
Admission on Monday, Sept. 10, is only $1 for everyone, but is FREE is you show your Dillons card. Note, each physical card gains one free admission, and you must have the plastic card with you—mobile devices do not count. All carnival rides are also just 1 ticket all day.
Ticket packs are fantastic deals. Packs must be purchase by Sept. 6, but they usually sell out before the fair—when they’re gone they’re gone!
- Family packs are $75 ($113 value) and have 4 Adult Gate Admission tickets, $20 in Food tickets, 2 Midway Sheets of 22 Ride Tickets and 2 of the 4-Ride Punch Cards good for 1 ride each for the following: State Fair Railroad, Ye Old Mill, Boat Ride on Lake Talbot and the Giant Slide.
- Kids packs are $20 ($28 value) and have 1 Child Gate Admission ticket, $10 in Food tickets, 1 Voucher for a Ride on the Midway (you get one total ride, not just one ticket), and one of the 4-Ride Punch Cards which are good for 1 ride each for the following: State Fair Railroad, Ye Old Mill, Boat Ride on Lake Talbot and the Giant Slide
- Couples packs are $40 ($64 value) and have 2 Adult Gate Admission tickets, $20 in Food tickets, 1 Midway Sheet of 22 Ride Tickets and 2 Round Trip Sky Ride tickets.
Wristbands are $30 and get you unlimited rides on the following days. As a comparison, ride sheets with 22 tickets are $20, and most rides take 2-4 tickets (except on Dillons Dollar Day, when all rides are 1 ticket).
- Fri. Sept. 7 — 3pm—11pm
- Tue. Sept. 11 — 1pm–10pm
- Wed. Sept. 12 — Noon–10pm
- Thurs. Sept. 13 — 3pm–10pm
- Fri. Sept. 14 — Noon–11pm
- Sun. Sept. 16 — Noon–8pm
$5 GRANDSTAND NIGHT—K.C. AND THE SUNSHINE BAND
Some say this is the best deal of the Fair, because you get gate admission, concert admission, and the post-concert laser light show all for $5 if you purchase by August 20. Put on your boogie shoes.
$2 TASTING TUESDAY
Every food vendor on the grounds will have $2 tasting portions all day on Sept. 11.
EXHIBITS AND HANDS-ON ACTIVITIES
PRIDE OF KANSAS BUILDING
Check out this year’s butter sculpture, the state’s largest pumpkin, Agriland, and phenomenal apple dumplings a la mode at the Wheatland Café.
Kids can weigh themselves on a livestock scale, milk a cow, drive a combine, and learn about the soil under their feet. Pride of Kansas building.
Go wild making wall pennants. Daily 9am to 7pm in the Do Art Building
TODDLER GAMES DRIVING SCHOOL & ART FAIR
Activities for the wee ones, including a driving course with Little Tykes® cars. Administration Building parking lot, Sept. 8, 9am-2pm.
Bring a towel! Kids love the fountain near the KWCH booth.
KANSAS FARM BUREAU KIDS CLASSROOM
Every day at 11:05am, kids can do a make-and-take or interactive activity, with a different theme each day. Activities include mini wheat necklaces, garden in a glove, circles of earth bracelets and cotton sheep art. In the Ad Astra Pavilion.
4-H CENTENNIAL HALL
Check out exhibits by youth from across Kansas, including photography, bug & rock collections, quilts, and woodworking.
North American Midway Entertainment is back with both thrill rides and family-friendly favorites. Check out their rides here. Note the Midway opens at different times each day and is not usually open in the morning. See hours here.
STATE FAIR RAILROAD
Perfect for little ones, and if you’re lucky, the kettle corn folks will be tossing samples half way around the loop. Depot is north of the Administration Building. Tickets are $3 per person, 9am-7:30pm daily.
Get a bird’s eye view of the festivities via chair lift. Hop on near the Oz Gallery or by the Expo Center. $5 round trip, open 9am-7:30pm daily
YE OLD MILL
Take a spooky boat trip with the Fair’s most famous attraction. We recommend ages 6+ because the dark is a little more than wee ones can handle. $3.50, open 10am-10pm.
Tip: your kids will want to go more than once. $2 for one ticket and $7 for four, open 9am-7:30pm daily.
LAKE TALBOTT BOAT RIDE
Cruise the water in the prettiest place on the grounds. $4, open 9am-7:30pm daily
Besides the new “Moo U” barn tours, kids love to stroll the barns and see demonstrations.
Milking Parlor, daily 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm and 6pm (no 10am demonstration on Sept. 7)
The Fair’s nursery is always a hit, and your kids can even deliver a calf in a life-size simulation. Daily 9am to 8pm (except Sept. 7, 11am – 8pm, & Sept. 16, 9am – 6pm)
HORSES & PONIES
Stand in awe of the draft horse and miniature horse shows on Saturday, Sept. 7 in the Expo Center. The 4-H horse show is on Saturday, Sept. 15. And don’t miss the Texas Trick Riders (mentioned in “what’s new”).
SHEEP SHEARING DEMONSTRATION
Sheep Swine and Goat Building, Sept. 8 at 11am, 3pm and 5pm, Sept. 9-12 at 9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm
RABBIT AND POULTRY BARNS
More than 2,800 coops with a variety of birds and rabbits
4-H/FFA members will be competing for a spot in the coveted Grand Drive the first weekend of the Fair. Showmanship contests for goats, pigs, sheep, and beef are in the afternoon on Sept. 7, and the market shows are all morning on Saturday, Sept. 8. Later in the week farmers and ranchers bring their animals: sheep on Tuesday/Wednesday, goats on Wednesday, pigs Friday-Saturday, and beef Wednesday-Saturday.
Cheer your favorite swine in this entertaining Fair tradition. North of Bison Arena, daily 10am, 12pm, 2:30pm, 4pm, 6pm all days (no 10am race on Sept. 7).
EXOTIC ANIMAL PETTING ZOO
Daily 10am to 9 pm, with exception of opening at 2pm on Sept. 7.
DR. GODDARD’S LAB
Sponsored by the Kansas Cosmosphere and SciEd Center, this interactive show uses live rocketry demonstrations to teach kids about the history of rockets and rocketry principles. In the Do Art Building, daily at 10am, 11am, 12pm and 2pm (no 10am on Sept. 7).
GLENDA AND MIKE’S MAGIC & VENTRILOQUISM SHOW
Talking puppets amaze kids and adults alike. Nex-Tech Wireless Stage at Lake Talbott, daily at 10:30am.
RON DIAMOND – COMIC HYPNOTIST
It never ceases to amaze. Bretz & Young Injury Lawyers Arena
- Sept. 7 – 5pm
- Sept. 8 – 3, 5, 7:30pm
- Sept. 9 – 5, 7:30pm
- Sept. 10 – 3, 5, 7:30pm
- Sept. 11 – 7:30pm
With over 100 food vendors, the Kansas State Fair has legendary favorites, hidden gems, and items that are just plain wacky.
Places to Sit
- Cottonwood Court – Air conditioned, tables that seat 8-10 people comfortably, clean restrooms and a breastfeeding room. Tip – don’t be afraid to share a table with strangers. It’s a great way to meet other Kansans!
- Wheatland Café in Pride of Kansas – Look for the classic red and white checkered table cloths
- Mel’s Diner / Bretz & Young Arena – Bug free with a screened-in seating area
- Park north of administration building – Lots of trees = lots of shade. The benches here are a great spot to people watch and wait for the next train (the depot is located there too)
- Lake Talbott stage seating – Live entertainment and a lovely view
- Livestock arenas – Take a load off and enjoy the hard work of young Kansas livestock showmen
- Krehbiel’s – Picnic tables covered with an open-air tent. A great place to take a break in the shade
- Dairy Bar in the grandstand – This adorable parlor is decorated like a classic ice cream shop.
- Wine & Beer – Both indoor and outdoor seating are available at a number of locations.
Places to get cheap drinks
- Bracket Concessions – $1 – 32-ounce iced tea. Look for the little pink sheds.
- Root Beer – $1.50. Look for the root beer kegs.
- Several vendors sell souvenir cups that can be refilled at a discount price. It’s a great deal who come to the fair multiple days.
- You are allowed to bring in your own water, drinks, and snacks. There are water fountains if you bring your own water bottles.
- Pronto Pups –What would the State Fair be without the Pronto Pup? This State Fair classic can be found at several locations across the fairgrounds. Look for the yellow sheds, and don’t miss the chance to take a picture with the giant Pronto Pup near Bretz and Young Arena.
- Roasted Corn – multiple locations. If eating corn off the cob is too messy for your crew – be sure to ask for it in a cup with a spoon.
- Stuffed Cucumbers – Pride of Kansas Avenue. Comes with the option of chicken or tuna salad, and more.
- Dairy Bar – Located under the grandstand. The facility was recently updated, and it features ice cream made from Kansas Dairies, including K-State Call Hall
- Chicken & Noodles – South Hutchinson United Methodist Booth inside the Cottonwood Court. A State Fair tradition for more than 50 years!
- Bierocks and Apple Dumplings at the Wheatland Café in the Pride of Kansas Building
- Krehbiel’s – Amazing smoked meats from McPherson, KS. Located at the corner of Pride of Kansas Avenue and Bison Boulevard.
- Moink ball – Moo + Oink = Moink. Five savory meatballs wrapped in bacon on a stick. What’s more State Fair than that? Find these at the red stage coaches.
- Dill Pickle Slushie – complete with a pickle for a straw
- Moon Pie Burger (Uses a Moon Pie instead of a bun with a burger in the middle)
Kids love to see their work on display and get prizes. Exhibits for arts, photography, clothing, textiles, etc., require pre-entry by August 15.
Sheep thrills for ages 3-6 on Sept. 8 at 7pm. Pre-register by calling the Fair at 620-669-3600—hurry, space is limited.
Create magic in this register-on-site event at the Ad Astra Pavilion on Saturday, Sept. 15. Register on site. Ages 7-9 compete at 9am, and ages 10-12 are at 10:30am.
ON-SITE COOKING CONTESTS – SEPT. 16
Make your best grilled cheese and bacon sandwich in our on-site kitchen, or combine a cake mix with your favorite Fair food in the King and Queen Foodie Contest. Pre-registration required.
YOUTH ARTS & PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITS
Register by Aug. 15! Categories include photography, drawings and paintings in various media, ceramics, clay, and Lego®. Click here for entry information.
YOUTH CLOTHING & TEXTILES
Register by Aug. 15! Categories include crochet, knitting, needlework, weaving, quilting, and sewing clothes for people and dolls. Click here for entry information.
YOUTH FOODS CONTESTS
Register by Aug. 15! Little known fact: some of these contests have prizes of $100!
- Decorated sugar cookie contest (depict idea of “school fun”)
- Creative Cream Pie Contest
- Flapjack Flippin’ Contest
- Curley’s All Natural Barbecue Sauce Contest
LOST & FOUND
The administration office is home to the lost and found department. If you get separated from any member of your family, or leave behind your purse or backpack, the people at the lost and found office will help reconnect you. This is also where you’ll find the first aid station in case of a medical emergency.
Our favorite is in the 4-H Encampment Building near gate 5, providing multiple rockers, a changing table, and a large private bathroom. The other is a single-use private room inside the Cottonwood Court women’s restroom. Both are air-conditioned.
You can bring your own strollers to the fair, but there are also two places to rent a stroller, wagon, wheelchair or mobility cart: Gate 5 on the north side of the fair, and
Gate 9 on the east side of the grounds near Parking Lot C.
BEATING THE HEAT
Cottonwood Court, the Fair’s indoor food court, is air conditioned and has lots of seating and nice restrooms. The commercial exhibit buildings (Meadowlark, Sunflower, Pride of Kansas) are air conditioned, as is the Oz Gallery. The splash fountain and park near the administration building are shady and have lots of benches.
Water fountains are found in most exhibit buildings, including the Sunflower and Meadowlark buildings. Water can also be found in the breezeway East of the Oz Gallery, and in the Encampment building.
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