Opinion Editorial: Join Kentucky at the State Fair this August
Opinion submission by Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles
FRANKFORT (July 29, 2021) – It’s time. After a year and half of shutdowns and extreme social distancing, Kentucky will have the opportunity to come together at the 117th Kentucky State Fair, Aug. 19-29 at at the Kentucky Expo Center. The Kentucky State Fair is one of our state’s oldest events, one that truly embodies the best of Kentucky.
In a time when we seem to be so divided, the state fair presents an opportunity to unify as one. In a true spirit of unity, the state fair will kick off with a bipartisan moment: the Constitutional Officers, both Democrats and Republicans will roll up their sleeves to serve breakfast to fairgoers.
At the State Fair, people from all ages and backgrounds come together to share in some of our greatest traditions. The Great Kentucky Cook Out Tent (over by the West Wing of the Expo Center), is home to a number of delicious Kentucky Proud food items that our farm families hope you’ll enjoy. In the South Wing, AgLand welcomes each person to get better educated about the basics – and the science – behind agriculture. Each evening, free concerts are offered for fairgoers, including one of my personal favorites, The Oak Ridge Boys, who will perform for the 46th time.
The State Fair also represents a chance to connect with some of the sights (and smells) of a bygone era for too many Kentuckians. It is no secret that our agriculture industry is changing, and more and more Kentuckians are removed from farm life than ever before. But odds are many Kentuckians still have a connection to a farm in one way or another, either through a memory or a story from a relative. By closing your eyes and taking a deep breath in the livestock barn or the tobacco room, you find yourself instantly transported to a Kentucky farm. By walking through the numerous exhibits, you can connect with families who are still carrying on the traditions that helped build Kentucky. You might even have a chance to talk to a youngster all about how he or she cured that prize-winning country ham.
And let me tell you: if our county fairs are any indication of how excited people are to be back to normal, then this signature summer event will likely be one of the largest attended state fairs in the history of the commonwealth. It will also be one of the most affordable. Thanks to steps taken by Kentucky Venues President and CEO David Beck, early bird tickets are on sale from now until Aug. 5 for $8 (and that price includes free parking). The fair is also paying tribute to our veterans and our seniors once again, with dedicated days for both to explore the fair free of charge.
Despite a lawsuit from the Governor challenging a state fair board reform bill passed by the General Assembly this year, the show will go on. We won’t let that suit put our fair in jeopardy. The state fair board is committed to putting on a spectacular event, one that respects our tradition of bringing both urban and rural Kentucky together to celebrate what makes our state great: farming, family, food, and fellowship.
I look forward to visiting with Kentuckians of all ages and backgrounds Aug. 19-29 in Louisville. For full details and tickets, visit kystatefair.org.
Ryan Quarles, a Republican, serves as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture