Four: The number of generations Olathe’s Linsey family has been showing rabbits in the Johnson County Fair’s annual ARBA Rabbit Show.
One-hundred: The number of tiny-tot contestants signed up for the Fair’s popular Mutton Busting competition.
1939: The year of the first Johnson County Fair.
Five thousand: The number of entries in 36 project areas for this week’s Johnson County Fair held in Gardner.
From dairy cattle to dog shows, the 2017 Johnson County Fair — “Barn in the USA!” has something to lure those interested in animal sciences.
But even those who aren’t curious about rabbits, chickens, goats, sheep, dogs, horses or cattle will find plenty of entertainment, from carnival rides to music and track races.
Melissa King, executive fair board member, says one of the primary goals of this year’s fair is to showcase Johnson County’s agricultural heritage, along with the technology that has influenced the ways we approach agriculture in the 21st century.
“Everyone is involved in agriculture in Johnson County,” King said. “Whether it is consuming the food we grow, gardening, or in countless other ways, we are all part of agriculture — and we need to preserve this connection to our land.”
The fair is also a signature event for a large number of Johnson County’s 4-H members.
Many have worked throughout the year on livestock, technology, food, crafts, and a wide array of other projects, which they will showcase throughout the week. Marilyn Rogers, who was a 4-H member in her youth and now works with current 4-H members, reflects on how this youth organization helps its members grow and become successful. “In this loving, nurturing environment, kids reach their potential and gain confidence they didn’t have before.”
2017 will also be the third year for a new fair event designed specifically for special-needs individuals. Scheduled for Friday at 5 p.m., and open to all ages, Chasing Memories is an opportunity for contestants to participate in showing a trained animal with one of the fair’s livestock exhibitors.
Contestants will partner with an exhibitor for about an hour before the event in order to learn some of the ins and outs of showing livestock. They will then lead the animal, typically a lamb or goat, into the arena and be introduced to the audience. Contestants are then judged with their animals and each contestant will receive a trophy.
“This is an opportunity for the contestants to shine,” King says. “They love it, and we have a lot of audience members who end up crying because it is so touching and impactful.”
This week’s fair attendance is expected to top 50,000 visitors and participants. People come back to the fair year after year, and are now attending with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, King says.
“It’s like you come home when you come back to the fair,” Rogers adds.
If you go
The Johnson County Fair runs through Aug. 5. The fairground address is 136 East Washington St. in Gardner.
Fair events are free and open to the public, except for the carnival and nightly arena events. To view this week’s fair schedule, visit www.jocokansasfair.com or call 913-856-8860.