HUTCHINSON, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas State Fair kicks off in Hutchinson on Friday and the community is preparing for an influx of people.
Bryan Schulz, the general manager of the fair, says about 316,000 people came into the city for the event last year, so they are expecting similar attendance this time around. Many of the special ticket packages that include gate entry, food tickets, and other activities are already sold out.
“Probably within five to six states of Kansas, we’ve got people coming in. On average, we have anywhere from 325,000 to 350,000 people coming in,” explained Schulz.
He says most of the fair visitors live within a 200-mile radius of the event, but there are some people who come from much farther away. That includes food vendors from out of state and youth bringing their livestock to compete in the fair.
The big crowds mean business will boom for the attending vendors.
“I’ve been here 15 to 17 years. We have seven stands here at the Kansas State Fair,” said Matthew Hall, owner of Hall Family Foods.
“We’re located in Newnan, Georgia. We do nice business here, and like I said, we’re proud to be part of the fair and look forward to coming back year after year,” explained Lenny Freund, owner of Freund Family Foods.
Schulz says many businesses in the entire city benefit from visitors coming to the fair.
“You know, they’re stopping at the grocery stores, stopping at the convenience stores, filling with gas, buying a pop, that has a turn on it as well. Plus, the amount of people we need to run the Kansas State Fair. We bring in about 600 volunteers to help out. Most of them are paid, some of them are volunteers, but we start looking at that plus everybody else that’s working here, it’s got a huge impact on our community,” he said.
Some of the hotels in the city are fully booked, including the Holiday Inn Express.
“We have 76 total rooms, and we enjoy it, so all rooms are sold,” said Ryan Hockenberry, Holiday Inn Express general manager. “It helps us out tremendously. It also helps out the community. It brings in hundreds if not millions of dollars to Hutch alone, so we get a portion of that in sales for rooms.”
They are planning to have extra employees working at the hotel to help with fair crowds. Vendors are also bringing in helping hands.
“We travel with a group of about 40 employees that we take on the road with us, and then we also hire many locals,” said Freund.
It’s a busy 10 days that leave a lasting impact on the community.
“A lot of people, they see us when we’re set up at parking lots. They’re like, ‘Oh yeah, we see you at the state fair.’ So it definitely helps,” said Hall.
There are currently only about 700 hotel rooms in Hutchinson. The fair general manager says they are working with the community to increase room counts. He believes more rooms can attract even more visitors to come to the fair in the future.
The fair runs from Sept. 8-17 and is located at 2000 N. Poplar St. in Hutchinson.
To find out more information about the Kansas State Fair, click here.