Opinion Editorial: Join Kentucky at the State Fair this month
Opinion submission by Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles
FRANKFORT (Aug. 8, 2022) - If the pandemic shutdown of 2020 taught us anything, it was how good we have it at The Kentucky State Fair. That year, we could only offer the youth portion of our livestock shows. Everything else about the state fair, the sights, the sounds, and the smells, were missing. Last year, when some states were still cancelling or postponing their fairs, Kentucky was able to return the state fair back in all its fantastic ways and people turned out in droves to, once again, feel a bit of normalcy and experience all the state fair has to offer.
I’m excited to once again be able to join Kentucky residents for the 118th Kentucky State Fair, Aug. 18-28 at the Kentucky Expo Center. This is “your” state fair and it’s you, the residents of Kentucky, who make it special each year. And I can’t wait to see you again.
The Kentucky State Fair is one of our state’s oldest events, one that truly embodies the best of Kentucky.
The state fair presents an opportunity to unify as one, bringing both our rural and urban communities together. 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 Proud Cook Out Tent (over by the South 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, with more than an acre of agriculture exhibits, 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 47th 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.
At the Kentucky State Fair, you will see why we’re Kentucky Proud of our agriculture industry. As always, your Kentucky Department of Agriculture will be on the job at the fair. Our employees meet the public and talk about the ways agriculture affects everyday lives. We help manage the livestock shows and the agricultural exhibits. And we help livestock producers and exhibitors protect their investments in their animals.
This signature summer event is one of the most attended and one of the most affordable. The special nature of the Kentucky State Fair is recognized by others as well. It’s consistently ranked among the top state fairs each year. Most recently, it received the No. 1 slot for state fairs in Vacations Made Easy’s lifestyle and travel blog. From popular music concerts, to gourmet chef demonstrations to, of course, the incredible horse shows and the parade of livestock champions, hundreds of thousands enjoy the state fair each year.
Thanks to steps taken by Kentucky Venues President and CEO David Beck, 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. This year also includes a day for those with sensory processing differences. The midway will operate with minimal lights and music during that time to create an enjoyable fair experience for those with sensory sensitivities. For more information about these special dates, visit the fair’s website at kystatefair.org.
Ryan Quarles, a Republican, serves as Kentucky’s Commissioner of Agriculture