It’s late July, it’s hot — but it’s supposed to be hot — and final preparations are under way for one of the community’s can’t-miss annual events, the Riley County Fair. If experience is any guide, there will be plenty to see and do this week in CiCo Park.
Two of the highlights come later in the week, when the rodeo and the carnival begin their runs Thursday evening, but the fairgrounds will be plenty busy before then. Folks who savor good homemade food, for example, will likely enjoy the 4-H bake sale, which begins at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
And at 8 a.m. Thursday, Pottorf Hall, which will house all manner of 4-H and open projects, will open. The 4-H exhibits in Pottorf Hall and in the livestock pens are sure to be impressive. Their quality is a reflection on the youth and the leadership involved in this county’s 4-H clubs. Adults who are convinced that young people don’t do much except squirrel away their days playing video games might be enlightened and inspired by what they see. They’ll find a lot of capable, imaginative, industrious, poised youth.
As important as 4-H projects are to the fair, they’re far from the only attractions. Another is the 39th annual Kaw Valley Rodeo, performances of which will start at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Thursday will be Kids Night and Military Appreciation Night, and Friday will bring Tough Enough to Wear Pink Night, with some of the proceeds going to support KSU’s Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research.
Also Thursday, the Ottaway Amusements carnival, another staple of the fair, will begin. It will offer rides for people of all ages as well as a midway lined with games and other entertainment. The carnival at night, with the lights of all colors on the rides flashing, is one of the memorable sights of the entire fair.
There’s more, of course. At the Riley County Fair, there always seems to be more. For starters, there’s the Fair Parade, which begins at Manhattan Town Center at 6 p.m. Thursday and proceeds to City Park. There’s also the Riley County Idol Contest, the Pedal Tractor Pull, the Amazing Fair Race — as much a game as a race — and on Sunday afternoon, a peach pie baking contest.
There also will be all kinds of refreshments at the fair, as well as information booths, some operated by nonprofit organizations and others by businesses. You’re sure to run into friends and you might even encounter a political candidate or two.
In short, there’s something for everyone at the Riley County Fair.