The Finney County Fair kicks off Wednesday with plenty of new things to see.

The livestock entries are packed with 110 goats, more than 65 sheep, 32 steers and heifers and 23 bucket calves. More than 1,300 locals are registered to compete in a long list of art, agriculture and culinary competitions, available in 4-H, Future Farmers of America and open class categories, depending on the event. The number is a little down from past years, possibly because of weather affecting agriculture events, staff said.

“We are really excited. The livestock and the animal side of the fair is growing,” said fair board president Jeremy Gigot.

Livestock shows and the 4-H Ambassadors' Farmer for a Day exhibit will take place Wednesday through Friday and horse speed events will dominate Thursday evening. On Friday, judges will rank submissions in a barbecue contest where locals can buy sample sliders. Saturday will be a packed lineup of family activities, from the Kids Pedal Tractor Pull in the morning to a Quilts of Valor presentation and turtle races in the afternoon and Mutton Bustin’, a Shoe Rodeo and a 4-H dance in the evening.

Older 4-H ambassadors will also give fair tours for young children at 3 and 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

Everyday from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., anyone is welcome to walk through the livestock exhibits on the west end of the fairgrounds and the art shows in the 4-H Building, Exhibition Building and Grandstand Meeting Room. Outdoor acts, including a balloon artist will stroll through the grounds during each afternoon. The Exhibition Building’s parking lot will be alive with a carnival on one end and a petting zoo on the other.

As a former 4-H kid, Gigot said, the fair is packed with memories of running loose with friends, learning responsibility and getting down in the dirt. But even people new to or outside of the 4-H world can love the fair.

“I think (people) should come just to see what it’s like and hopefully also to start thinking about things that they can do,” Gigot said. “Because even if you live in town, you might not be able to do beef cattle, but you can have rabbits, you can show your pets. You can have chickens ... You can be a part of that. And there’s also cooking and citizenship and project talks. There’s so many things that kids, even those that are raised in town, can get involved in and be a part of.”

Here’s a few activities you can’t miss.

 

NEW: Table-setting

More than 20 4-H and open class contestants will be judged on the fair’s newest competition: table-setting. Displayed alongside the food competition entries in the Grandstand Meeting Room, the series of small presentations give contestants a chance to get creative before the food touches the plate. Each entry decorates a table place setting according to a different theme, right down to the menu. The places will be on display all week.

NEW: Two art shows, juried and therapeutic

Across the sidewalk from the grandstands, the fair will welcome two other additions: the Youth Mental Health Month Art Showcase, co-sponsored by Compass Behavioral Health and the Southwest Kansas Art Exhibition, the fair’s first juried art show, organized by Garden City Arts.

Compass’ showcase, presented alongside four other Kansas mental health organizations, took submissions from Kansans ages 18 to 21 in all mediums — poetry, paintings, sculptures, photography and more — and displayed them across the state, from the state capital to a coffee shop in Ulysses, said Kim Fisher, Compass project development coordinator. The 25 to 30 pieces all express the theme “You Are Not Alone,” and more than half the pieces are from southwest Kansas artists. It’s a good outlet and ideally will help fight the stigma surrounding mental health, she said.

The juried art show will join the fair with more than 100 submissions, a feat Gigot called a huge success. Both shows will be open to the public in the east room of the 4-H Building all week.

“We’ve never had that before. We’re trying to find new ways to reach out to part of the communities that don’t get involved with the fair. Because this is a county fair. We want to touch as many organizations and groups in the county as possible. It’s not just livestock,” Gigot said.

Runway fashion show

Judges have already reviewed submissions for the fashion contest, but contestants will show them off at 7 p.m. Thursday at a runway fashion show at the Exhibition Building stage, a change from previous years when the show took place before the fair. Young and old will wear the handmade looks before an audience before receiving awards from the judges.

Free evening concerts and beer garden

Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights will all end with free concerts at the Exhibition Building, all beginning at 8 p.m. Nashville star Jason Pritchett will take the stage Wednesday, the four-man State Line Drive on Friday and ‘80s tribute band That 80’s Band on Saturday. Garden City’s Flat Mountain Brewhouse will host a beer garden on the fairgrounds during the concerts.

Daily livestock exhibits

To Gigot, the real must-see is the livestock exhibits, including cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, poultry and rabbits, all on display at the fairgrounds.

“I think people of course need to come down and see the livestock and see how hard these 4-H and FFA kids have worked, especially with their cattle and their goats,” Gigot said. “And who doesn’t love goats?”

For a full fair schedule, visit www.finneycountyfair.org.

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.