Aug 2nd 2022
In January 1873, a group of businessmen met and organized in Hutchinson, Kansas, to create the Reno County Agricultural Society. Later that year, on September 23-24, that society held a fair in the small wooden livery stable behind the town's only bank.
The fair's success led the community to raise funds for another one and moved the event to a location southeast of where the fairgrounds stand today. This first Annual Reno County Fair took place in 1875 and was successful enough to prompt another venue change, this time to the north of the Eastside Cemetery.
The society was eventually reorganized and renamed the Arkansas Valley Fair Association. In 1885, 10 years after it had moved, the fair returned to its previous southeastern location, where it would continue to grow through the 1890s, adding new buildings, fencing, a racetrack, and even a streetcar.
Turn of the Century
The organization in charge of the fair changed its name again in 1900 to the Central Kansas Fair Association. Officially recognized by an act of the state legislature in 1903, the CKFA was given the license to call its event “The Kansas State Fair.” So the Reno County fair became The Kansas State Fair and moved to a large, mostly undeveloped park in Hutchinson.
The fair’s 50th-anniversary celebration in 1911 saw the fair expand into a nine-day affair that drew President William Taft himself to speak to a packed grandstand. Over 183,000 people attended the fair that year, the largest gathering yet. Once again, the fair had grown larger than its grounds and sought to expand, purchasing more land and adding a Sante Fe switch track to bring rides and shows directly into the grounds.
The First “Official” State Fair
In 1913, a bill was introduced in the Kansas legislature that proposed in return for Kansas granting the fair monetary support, the land the fairgrounds were on would be given over to the State of Kansas by Hutchinson. Though there was some talk about moving the fair further west, the bill was passed, leading to the first “official” Kansas State Fair in 1923.
New attractions were soon added. The same year as the first official fair, The House of Capper was built, an area that offered amenities such as rocking chairs, cool drinks, and even restroom facilities. A few years later, in 1915, The Old Mill water attraction was completed just in time for opening day. The Old Mill offered fairgoers one thousand feet of water-filled channels that transported passengers through “gloomy caves of gleesome gladness” with “occasionally beautiful scenery lit by electric light.”
The Fair Today
Every year, the fair continues to get bigger and better than ever, taking place over ten days and welcoming over 340,000 visitors each September. Kansas agriculture, culture, industry, and products for commercial activity are all on display to learn about and enjoy. Educational opportunities and entertainment experiences are also available for fairgoers of all ages.
How to Support the Fair
The best way to support the Kansas State Fair is, of course, to be there and enjoy the food, drink, rides, vendors, and entertainment it has to offer. But if you can’t make it and still want to show your support, you can email the Executive Director of the Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation about donations. A friend of the fair, the Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation, supports the continued improvement and beautification of the fairgrounds through projects such as the Capper Foundation building and historic walking tour and the renovation of the Bison Building.
KEY: Official Sponsor
KEY Apparel is proud to be the official apparel sponsor of the Kansas State Fair. KEY represents the hard-working pioneer spirit of all Kansans and the fair's rich agricultural history. We provide fair employees with comfortable, durable, and stylish wear each year, and fairgoers can purchase their own official Kansas State Fair-themed merchandise at the fairgrounds or on our Kansas State Fair partner page.
If you’re looking for durable, quality clothing that puts your brand front and center, get in touch with us today.