Shelli Mader
Hays, Kan.

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August 19, 2013
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Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 8-17-13

One of the things I like best about Kansas is all the small country towns. Each one has some unique claim to fame. I’ve had fun discovering some of those things over the past few years. This time of year though, all the area towns are focused on the same thing — their county fairs. My family had fun visiting four of them over the last month. Thankfully, all of our favorites were on different weeks.

Our first fair was in our not-so-small former town, Hays. We all still love the town, and enjoy making the two hour drive back whenever we can. A few years ago my husband and another guy built a demolition derby combine, so we headed out there to watch them compete. This is the fourth year that the guys have done the competition, so we were all expecting big things.

The first year they entered they lost within the first few minutes, the next year they won the derby and last year they placed third. I was ready for another win. Unfortunately though, the weather had different plans and within the first 15 minutes, all the spectators and the track got soaked, so the derby was cancelled.

Adding to the frustration, the transmission in my husband’s combine went out a few hours later, so he and his buddy decided it was best to scrap it since Hays wasn’t planning on hosting a combine derby in 2014. We were all disappointed that their derby career was over, especially my 4-year-old boy. He talks about the derby year-round and hosts his own toy combine derbies weekly (he doesn’t own a toy combine that isn’t scratched or bent). So now he is looking forward to the day he can build and drive his own derby combine.

Our next fair was in the small town of Dighton. They have a fun Friday night parade and carnival. It’s the first parade I’ve ever been to that throws not only candy, but quarters! That is something I could get excited about. My kids made about $2.75 each. I think the quarters were a clever town marketing ploy though, because tickets at the hometown carnival cost $0.25 each. So, needless to say, we spent all the quarters there. But, we didn’t spend much more, because many of the rides took multiple tickets. We were waiting until the Leoti fair to let the kids ride lots of rides.

The Leoti fair (also known as the Wichita County Fair) is a big deal in this area. They have an awesome carnival owned by the town. Community members volunteer to run all the rides and games (no questionable carneys!) and each ride or game is only $0.25! There are several big rides like a Ferris wheel, tilt-a-whirl, train and carousel. There are also dozens of games and a handful of small rides geared toward little kids. We entertained both of our kids for four hours on only $9. The only bad thing about the fair is that lots of area people enjoy it, so the ride lines can get pretty long. It is a fun atmosphere though, and the community-operated food booths are cheap too.

This year was my daughter’s first year in 4-H, so the Scott County Fair was the most exciting one. She competed in dog, buymanship, photography and foods. She got a lot of great experience learning how to train our old (and sometimes cantankerous) dog, do a demonstration, prepare a recipe and complete a project interview. She loves 4-H! The kids and I all entered a few open class projects, enjoyed the beef tasting booths, parade, pedal tractor pull and kids’ day games.

We are bummed that the local fair season is over, but we enjoyed all four weeks of it. We even got to eat a couple of funnel cakes (anyone else have to get one of those during fair season?) ❖

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The Fence Post Updated Oct 17, 2013 09:56AM Published Sep 3, 2013 11:36AM Copyright 2013 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.