By Ty Hutchens
Every year around mid August, one of the nation’s largest indoor state fairs kicks off in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the course of the next two weeks, upwards of half a million visitors walk through the doors of the Kentucky Exposition Center. Every day in those two weeks, numerous events and live shows are presented around the grounds, ranging from daredevil escape artists to duck-herding dogs. Thousands of competitive entries are displayed, stretching from cows to tobacco to woodworking to decorated fish tanks.
One simply can’t be bored at the fair. This year, Rock-it the Robot came as one of the roving acts. My family first sighted him driving around on his 6 foot light up scooter. My family, as well as a fairly large crowd began to follow him. He was blasting Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”, periodically giving shout-outs to bystanders. He then stepped off his scooter and began dancing. For the next five minutes or so, he took pictures with kids, randomly shouting “cheese and crackers,” “awesomesauce,” and “dum dum dum, hee-hee.” Another one of the many acts was Lady Houdini. In her show finale, she was handcuffed and placed in a chamber filled with water. Somehow, she held her breath for upwards of three minutes, all the while picking locks with her hair pin.
With over 40 years of state fair show experience, Miller’s Border Collies can be considered a true fair tradition, and a must-see for those of you planning to attend the 2017 fair. Harold Miller has trained border collies to herd animals on his farm. In his fair show, he has the dogs herd ducks though a variety of obstacles including bridges, tunnels, and finally, a cage atop an incline. One of my favorite dogs was Jenny, a 4 month old hyperactive puppy. Truly, all she did was get in the way of the other dogs, but she was still very entertaining. In addition to the shows, there is no shortage of food. Due to the hot weather I experienced in my visit, fried food didn’t seem that appetizing, however the weather didn’t stop many fairgoers from getting a bite to eat. There was quite a variety of foods including the traditional corn dog, and other unique options such as the donut burger. Outside, one company gave away free cups of ice cream and apple juice as an advertising scheme. The peanut butter caramel ice cream I ate was a good refresher while waiting for Lady Houdini.
This year, I entered a piece of my artwork in the fair. The process began in late June, when I first registered online. From there, the hunt was on for the perfect vehicle to make. I eventually decided to make Louisville Fire Department’s Hook and Ladder 3. In early August, my tags arrived in the mail, although my fire truck was still far from complete. Over the next several weeks, I put the finishing details on the truck, while also getting back into the school schedule. On Sunday, August 14, my family and I d
.0rove my entry up to Louisville, first dropping by the station where the real H&L3 was located. After seeing my scaled version of the truck, the firefighters pulled the truck out of the bay and onto the street. I then took some photos of my model next to the real version. Because of it’s design, H&L3 is one of the largest fire trucks in the state, and my scaled version was completely dwarfed when I sat it on the front bumper. After I got my pictures, we stayed and talked for a bit, and then headed to the fairgrounds. The Kentucky Kingdom was still open, so traffic was hectic when we arrived, though as we got further into the grounds, traffic eased up. We parked in a spot close to the building and then made our way into the south wing. There was almost no line, and I was able to go straight to the lane corresponding with my last name. The woman at the table checked me off her list while I tied my entry tag on to the rear ladder. She then took my entry and sat it behind her. A week later, the results were posted on the state fair website, and to my disappointment, I didn’t get a ribbon. My family drove up to Louisville on Saturday the 27th, to spend the day at the fair. Next year, I plan on entering another vehicle in the model category, as well as competing in the vegetable and culinary departments. For more information on my hobby, visit tyspapervehicles.weebly.com or facebook.com/tyspapervehicles
Aside from the competitive entries, there are many other neat things on display. This year, there was a large combine tractor in the south wing. TARC, Louisville’s city bus system, always brings in one of their buses. Also making a return were the antique Kentucky State Police cars. Not far away were several antique fire trucks including a 1929 Seagrave from Elizabethtown. In the commercial exhibits, one company brought in an entire mobile home that guests were able to walk through. The view out the front window may not have been a green countryside, though the raised view of the vendors was pretty neat.
The Kentucky State Fair is one of my favorite events of the year, and I highly recommend that everyone should go at least once in their life, potentially even making it a yearly tradition. As for competing, other than the fact that I didn’t win, it was an incredible experience from start to finish.