Will it stay or will it go?
A new bill introduced in the state legislature would allow the Kansas State Fair to move from its current spot in Hutchinson to a completely different city.
The bill was introduced by Hesston Representative Don Schroeder, chair of the Agriculture and National Resources Budget Committee, which deals with the fair’s budget.
He says the bill came about after several people involved with the fair became unhappy with the city.
This comes as a surprise to many in Hutchinson, including city officials, legislators and even residents.
“Every year since 1959.”
That’s how long Hutchinson resident Bruce Ham has been going to the state fair.
“My friends and I all used to skip school and go to the fair and ride,” he said. “The first Friday was free back in the day.”
Like many others in town, Ham has very fond memories from over the years.
And for each person, the highlight of the fair is a little different.
“Probably the pronto pups. Those are probably-just the food,” said David Simental, a former Hutchinson resident who goes to the fair every year.
“I personally have performed at the fair multiple times, which are some really good memories,” said Anne Marie Martin, a Hutchinson resident.
For locals, the fair also brings light to the town’s other attractions.
“I think it showcases also, like the salt mine,” said Simental. “It shows just small things that if someone drives by Hutch, wouldn’t really notice it.”
Martin, who works in downtown Hutch, says moving the fair could also have a negative impact on local stores.
“I think that with so many other businesses leaving Hutchinson, especially at the moment, it would leave our town, kind of high and dry,” she said.
But Ham has faith that any attempt to take away the historic event that has been such a major part of his life, will not be successful.
“Because Hutchinson needs the fair, and it needs Hutchinson,” said Ham. “It’s just a part of our town.”
If this bill passes, the fair’s board would have to request proposals from other cities in the state to host the event.
Those would have to be submitted to several legislative committees on or before January 11, 2020.