State Fair An Annual Tradition For Visitors And Vendors

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

For many families across Kansas, a trip to the Kansas State Fair is a September tradition. And, it's a tradition for many people working the fair. Tuesday, a pair of vintage vendors were honored for making the annual trip to Hutchinson for half a century.

Fifty years is a long time for a vendor to keep coming back to the Kansas State Fair. So, why do they do it? Obviously, this is where the people are.

"And we've been at the fair for fifty years selling the home style fudge."
The home style fudge booth is only one of several booths operated by state fair vendor Jack Crowther. Sweet-toothed fair-goers have stopped at the fudge stands for five decades where the same fudge recipe has been used all of this time.

Crowther is from Ohio. His dad started coming to Hutchinson for the Kansas State Fair fifty years ago. Jack expanded it in the 70s saying 'this is the place to sell things.' "My father was actually an agricultural engineer, and he invented a bulk milk cooler," Crowther said. "And, the way to talk to farmers about equipment like that is to come to the fair. And, Kansas has always been known as a great agricultural state fair."

But now, Crowther's business, called London Specialties Company, markets many different products. Some you'll see on infomercials. "We take those infomercials that you see on TV, we bring them to the state fair, and our demonstrators do them in person." Crowther explained.

And, while Crowther will sell anything new and different at the fair, not far away is a vendor who is selling livestock handling equipment fairly similar to what might have been sold here fifty years ago.

Stroberg Equipment Company is based in Hutchinson and began building portable cattle corrals in 1954. State fair vendor Roger Stroberg says he wouldn't miss the fair because customers might think he's out of business. "Since we've been here so many years, we have repeat customers. And those people come back to see us," Stroberg said. "They expect to see us, especially after fifty years."

Stroberg and Crowther feel honored the fair recognizes their fifty continual years of vending. "That's what our business has been doing for fifty years now."

As long as business remains good at the state fair, I'm sure other vendors will get their fifty year ribbons in the years to come.

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