An old favorite comes back to the Kansas State Fair when it opens on Friday – the Kansas "Wheat Fountain."
The attraction is being brought back as part of a celebration of the 150th anniversary of statehood this year by the Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. The fair opens Friday and runs through Sept. 17 in Hutchinson.
The fountain was a centerpiece of the Kansas Wheat exhibit at the fair from the 1960s until the late 1970s and its display of wheat cascading into a bin was a hit with audiences.
The wheat fountain made its debut outside the state of Kansas at the National Restaurant Convention in Chicago and was borrowed by the U.S. Information Agency and shown in Tanzania, Tunisia and the Congo in the 1970s.
"It was supplied with Kansas wheat; however, visitors to the Tanzanian fair constantly took away handfuls of the grain. Had the fair lasted another few days, the fountain would have run dry," he says.
The fountain had been retired, but was rediscovered in the State Fair Grandstand earlier this year and refurbished for a return. The exhibit presents a timeline of wheat-related events throughout Kansas' 150 years of statehood, including important moments in Kansas history such as the introduction of wheat to the state; the improvement of wheat varieties that had a major impact on the state's economy; the growth of the milling industry and most recently, groundbreaking of the $8 million Kansas Wheat Innovation Center.
Fairgoers can learn more about the state's number one crop at the Kansas Wheat Exhibit, where a host of educational, health and nutrition information will be on display. Folks also can pick up the 2011 Kansas Wheat Recipe Book, which features recipes from the 2011 National Festival of Breads.
Also, the three winners of the 2011 Kansas Wheat Yield Contest will be awarded their plaques and checks at 3:30 p.m. on Sept. 15 at the Kansas Wheat exhibit.
Kansas Wheat also co-hosts the Agriland display, also in the Pride of Kansas Building. The popular exhibit engages the senses and stimulates the minds of children and adults with interactive activities that teach the importance of Kansas agriculture. Among the adventures at Agriland are a life-size milking cow; interactive soil tunnel that shows kids how the soil community works together to create plant life, and other interactive games. A team of volunteers from throughout the Kansas agriculture industry work together to make Agriland a fun learning environment. Agriland is open throughout the Fair.
Tickets for the Kansas State Fair are available at the gate or online at www.kansasstatefair.com