Shank’s Take: Exhilaration Moving Forward

A nearly three-hour March meeting of the Kansas Fairgrounds Foundation Board of Directors followed by a walking tour of the 1861 Club under construction offered more proof there is no standing still when it comes to enhancements at the Kansas State Fair. Normally, meetings of that duration produce restlessness and weariness for the participants. In this case, the opposite happened and a feeling of exhilaration prevailed to coincide with the warm sunlight outdoors. 

Entering the meeting, board members viewed an artist rendering of the enhancement/restoration of the Bison Building, which will transform the 90-year-old structure into something new again. To the credit of the leadership team at the Kansas State Fair, restoration was chosen over demolition regarding the Bison Building, which goes hand in hand with an effort this past year to dedicate a restored House of Capper. 

Following the meeting, board member and long-time fair advocate Brad Rayl donned a hard hat and gave us all a walking tour of the 1861 Club as construction workers continued to hammer. 

Brad pinpointed the location of everything from coolers to meeting rooms on a project in which he has been involved since its inception. The tour left no doubt Brad has a special passion for this project. Quite honestly, the 1861 Club looks even grander than what I anticipated from the drawings.

Three events, including a wedding reception, an organization’s annual awards dinner, and a corporate Christmas party are currently booked, with several others awaiting confirmation. 

This month, board members will be seen walking the streets of Reno County networking with businesses and organizations who contribute items to Boots and Bling, the Foundation’s top FUNdraising party, slated for August 10. We “thank” the more than 150 companies and individuals for donating items last year, and hope they will be willing to do so again. 

Progress is a constant at the Kansas State Fair. As Coach and Motivational Speaker Lou Holtz says, “When things are going well, do not slow down and rest on your laurels. Put the pedal to the metal and keep moving ahead,”   

Coach Holtz’s words best describe the goings on at the Kansas State Fair.

-Richard Shank

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