The 2021 Finney County Fair is here and will look a little different one year after the pandemic first hit

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Katie Mongeau, center, describes how she made a cake during a 4-H foods consultation judging session in the exhibition building during the 2020 Finney County Fair. Social distancing was used during judging of various categories. Static events, such as foods, will return to a pre-pandemic routine this year.

July is here and so is fair season in southwest Kansas, with 12 area counties starting their fairs in July and two beginning the first week of August. 

The 2021 Finney County Fair will run from July 21-25 with some events, such as the judging for Clothing Construction and Fiber Arts and Modeling-Buymanship, beginning on July 13. 

Jennifer LaSalle, Finney County K-State Extension Family and Consumer Services Agent, said the fair will be very similar to fairs in 2019 and earlier, with the exception of not stalling livestock all week, like they did in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"They will just bring them in the day of the show and then take them home," she said. "Generally we stall them all week long, from Wednesday to Saturday, but this year we can't do that because of the capacity in the building is only at 75%."

Static entries, everything but livestock, will be displayed all week for public viewing, LaSalle said. That includes food vendors, woodworking, visual arts, clothing, etc. 

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LaSalle said some special events for the fair this year are the Antique Tractor Pull, Kids Pedal Pull, BBQ Contest, Turtle Races, Book Walk, Car Show and a milking station. 

There will also be two free concerts - Diamonds & Whiskey on Friday night and That 80s Band on Saturday night.

Hailey Unruh controlls her calf as it tries to get loose while competing in the 2020 4-H/FFA current year bucket calf category. The bucket calves were part of the Finney County Fair's beef show in the fairgrounds show arena.  The livestock categories will continue with the "show and go home" this year, the same as used in 2020.

LaSalle is excited to have a near normal fair this year. 

"My specialty is the Fashion Revue, so I'm excited to have that go on, but really the livestock shows, just all the static entries, we're just glad to be able to display the kid's projects this year," she said. "  Last year they got it judged but we limited the amount they could enter. Then they go get them judged and we posted virtually, but this year with all the static entries, they can enter back to normal like it has been in the past and then they'll get to display them all week." 

Roxanne Morgan, Vice President of the Finney County Fair Board and executive director of the Finney County Convention and Visitor's Bureau, said the fair is a way to highlight what Finney County has to offer and the interests it's "residents and or neighbors and partners have." 

"It highlights our young, our youth and then it also highlights the agriculture industry," she said. "There's also going to be some booths out there from entities that are going to be highlights the services that are provided in Finney County. I think it is Finney County. It's not that it benefits it, it is Finney County, it just highlights everything there."

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LaSalle said her part of the fair is watching the youth get excited about their entries.

"They worked so long and hard to get that project to the fair, so it's just exciting to see the expression on their face when they've done well," she said. "Just seeing them so happy, and they like running around at the fair, I guess that's the part I like the most."  

Morgan can't pick one favorite of the fair, she likes everything, but she is glad that everyone can get together again this year. She enjoys the camaraderie of the fair.

"The concerts are great, of course there's always fair food. I don't think I could pick a favorite because every year we do something different," she said. "The antique tractor pulls are going to be really cool this year, the BBQ competition is going to be exciting and we've got a car show going along with that. All of those things separately I really love, so all together I think a favorite I couldn't do that, that wouldn't be fair."  

Schedule of Events

  • Wednesday, July 21 – Sheep Show begins at 8 a.m.; Poultry Show begins at 9 a.m.; goat check-in and weigh-in runs from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 22 – Goat Show begins at 8 a.m.; swine check-in and weigh-in runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Friday, July 23 – Swine Show begins at 8 a.m.; Fashion Revue begins at 6:30 p.m.; Diamonds & Whiskey concert begins at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, July 24 – Breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m.; Premium Auction begins at 8 a.m.; registration for the BBQ Contest begins at 9:30 a.m.; registration for the Kids Pedal Pull begins at 12 p.m. with the event beginning at 12:30 p.m.; registration for the Antique Tractor Pull begins at 12:30 p.m. with the  event beginning at 2 p.m.; registration for the Turtle Race begins at 2 p.m. with the races beginning at 3 p.m.; Car Show begins at 6 p.m.; Quilts of Valor Presentation begins at 6:45 p.m.; That 80's Band concert begins at 7 p.m.; Book Walk and Milking Station will be held all day.
  • Sunday, July 25 – 4-H Sunday begins at 9 a.m.; 4-H Awards Ceremony begins

Other 2021 County Fair dates: 

  • Gray  - July 19-22
  • Kearny - July 19-22
  • Haskell - July 18-24
  • Hodgeman - July 14-19
  • Scott - July 28 to Aug. 1
  • Lane - July 21-24
  • Ness - July 27-30
  • Wichita - July 23 to Aug. 1
  • Grant - July 17-25
  • Greeley - Aug. 4-7
  • Hamilton - July 16-24
  • Stevens - July 23-30
  • Stanton - Aug. 4-8