By Dennis Minich
I think it is fair to say the fair season has opened. Last Saturday, the local festival season got underway with the annual Freeman Homecoming. And just like in years past, it was hot on the streets of Freeman. Ironically, just like a couple years ago, it immediately cooled down. Hopefully, unlike that year, we won’t have to suffer through unseasonably cool temperatures for the rest of the festival season.
I actually got a jump on festival going last week by traveling west to the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson. Even though I grew up in Kansas, this was the first time I had ever attended the event, although I had several sojourns to the Missouri State Fair. You may remember a couple of years ago, after returning from Sedalia and the Missouri State Fair, I was quite disillusioned by the lack of SWAG at the event. If the fair had ever been good for anything, it was free crud you could look at or play with until you threw it away. I didn’t even get a yardstick.
The Kansas State Fair made it up to me. I came home with three bags of freebees, including the three bags. I got pens, notepads, calendars, keychains, flying disks (generic for Frisbees), a copy of the U.S. Constitution and both left-handed and right-handed toothpicks. While I did not get a yardstick, I did get three rulers, so I am good up to three feet anyway.
One of the highlights was a life-size buffalo made out of butter. It was pretty impressive, but I do feel bad for the folks who had to churn all that butter just to have it end up as the butt of a bison instead of on bread.
Now lest you think I am unfairly dogging the Show-Me State’s shindig for the Sunflower show, rest assured there were avenues where our neighbors to the west party didn’t compare. Most especially, the food. While both have the usual carnival fare of fried everything, turkey legs and nachos, at the Missouri Fair the Cattlemen’s Association, the pork producers and others put out some mighty-good eats. I saw no steaks, pork chops or like in Hutchinson.
I think the entertainment value in Missouri is far better. I didn’t get to see much of the animal displays so I can’t compare. But it was a beautiful day and I still have about half of my free stuff left, at least I did this morning. Leslie may have filed the rest of it away for me by now.
One added bonus, I had really cheap seats to the concert of .38 Special, the band performing at the fair. I wasn’t really at the concert, I was on the Ferris wheel about six blocks away from the arena, but from the top you could hear pretty doggone good. Leslie is not a fan of heights, so it was appropriate we got to hear the band perform “Hold on Loosely.” I think I still have her finger mark etched into my leg where she was squeezing in fear.
There are various events this weekend. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend any because I will be traveling to the Missouri Press Association’s annual meeting. I was kind of bummed it fell on the same day as Tom Wopat from “Dukes of Hazzard” being in Harrisonville. I interviewed him last week and it was a very enjoyable conversation, just like talking over the fence to a neighbor. I found his memories of a rural upbringing interesting. We also talked briefly about the television series “Longmire.” It was one of my absolute favorite shows and Wopat had a six-episode arc where he was at odds with the show’s namesake hero.
Wopat will be available for pictures and signing autographs from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the chamber of commerce office, 106 S. Independence St. I had the address wrong last week, but hopefully anyone following that information can look a couple blocks over and see where they should be. He will be performing singing Saturday night at the Peculiar Winery.