November 2023 Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Dillon

Some of our most influential volunteers, who give their time, energy and expertise on a regular basis, are the members of the Foundation’s board. This month, we are featuring one such board member, Steve Dillon.

Steve Dillon, pictured third from the right in the front row, at the groundbreaking for the 1861 Club during the 2023 Kansas State Fair.

Never one to seek attention, Steve was a founding member of the Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation (KFF) in 2003 and has served ever since. The board would not be the same without his steady presence, sense of humor, and unquestionable support. 

Steve enjoys being a part of the Foundation Board, because of the wonderful people who make up the board and are committed to improving the Kansas State Fairgrounds. When asked what he likes most, he said “I like all of it … coming to the meetings, helping with Boots and Bling and attending the Kansas State Fair”. He added, “What it’s all about for me is supporting the Kansas State Fair and seeing it grow and thrive.”

As a lifelong citizen of the community, I’ve always gone to the fair since I was a small child and I’ve always enjoyed going.

Steve Dillon on his love for the Fair

Community and connecting with people again shine as a strong value for Steve as he initially got involved as a founding member through friends like Brad Rayl and the first President, Jack Mull. If you ask him how he got involved, he’ll joke, saying it’s because he thought it would look good on his resume or that he doesn’t know how to say, “No!” However, the truth reveals itself by his generosity with his time and giving through the years of being involved. If you really pester him (like I did), you can get the truth of why being involved with the Foundation really is important to him.

We need to help take care of the Fair and the Fairgrounds since Kansas State Fair is a self-supporting fee-fund state agency and therefore receives limited state funding. They have to have money to keep updating the Fair and the facilities to keep it up-to-date and relevant.

Steve Dillon on why KFF is important

One project that Steve is a huge supporter of is the Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation’s 1861 Club. Steve has helped to fund and spearhead this project as he sees it as a vital piece to the future of both the Foundation and the Kansas State Fair. The 1861 Club, which will have a grand opening during the 2024 Kansas State Fair, will be a food and beverage venue during the State Fair and available for event rentals during the rest of the year. The goal is for this new venue to be a source of regular income of funds that will be funneled back into essential updates for the rest of the Fairgrounds.

I hope that brings in lots of money that we can use to keep updating things at the Fair to keep it fresh and current.

Steve Dillon on goals for the 1861 Club

 As a farmer by trade, Steve sees the importance of keeping the facilities on the Fairgrounds current, to allow for up-to-date agricultural exhibits since the agriculture industry has always been a central point of the Kansas State Fair. Having up-to-date facilities on the Fairgrounds helps to ensure the future of being able to support connection, education and outreach of the ag industry, not only during the Kansas State Fair, but also during countless ag events hosted on the Fairgrounds year-round.

Steve’s favorite part about the Kansas State Fair again circles back to connecting with people. His first humorous answer about what he loves most about the Kansas State Fair is, “The Beer Garden!” but he clarifies and shares how much he appreciates the social aspect of the Fair.

It’s a social deal; you see people at the Fair that you may not see very often. It brings a lot of people from different communities, and I run into people that I only get to see at the Fair.

Steve Dillon on the Kansas State Fair

Perhaps not with words, but through his actions, generosity and continued service on the KFF board, Steve demonstrates that the Kansas State Fair is worth supporting and securing a future for. True to his farming instincts, his closing words were, “Let it rain!”

Do you share Steve’s love of the Kansas State Fair? Volunteer today to help support the future of the Fairgrounds just like Steve!

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