Despite devastating tornado, Kansas fair being reborn


GREENSBURG, Kan. – The phrase “true grit” is often associated with cowboy toughness – an indomitable spirit – that proved an asset in settling the West. This year, it might also seem a trait common to residents of Greensburg, Kan.
Leveled. While much has been written about the F-5 tornado that leveled most of the community, residents are looking forward, preparing to host the Kiowa County Fair July 14-17, said Carmen Stauth, Kansas State University Research and Extension agent and public information officer for the county.
She, along with Pam Muntz, who has served as Kansas State’s family and consumer sciences agent in the county for 21 years, typically invest a lot of energy in organizing the Kiowa County Fair, which serves as the county’s summer celebration.
With a majority of their energies dedicated to helping the community advance its re-building process, the two Extension agents are voicing gratitude for a swell of support from neighboring counties and elsewhere in the state, including research and Extension colleagues and volunteer agencies.
New plans. The Kiowa County Fairgrounds were destroyed in the storm, but the 2007 Kiowa County Fair is being planned on the rodeo grounds.
Electricity, which will come from generators, is expected to be limited, and for now, tents will take the place of fair buildings, Stauth said.
The setting has changed, but the opportunity to come together to celebrate community is actually expanding, said Muntz, noting that a fair favorite, a community barbecue, is now scheduled for each day of the fair.
“We’ll have three barbecues – three opportunities to share food and fellowship with friends and neighbors – instead of one,” she said.
Kiowa County 4-H members will have an opportunity to display their projects and perennial favorites – the livestock shows and auction, turtle races and public fashion revue – also are being scheduled.
“This year, we’ll be borrowing the basics – tables and chairs, stanchions for livestock pens, temporary shelters for rabbits and poultry, etc.,” Muntz said.
“We also have offers for help in setting up and managing the fair, and people willing to travel and judge without charging a fee.”
Strength. “The Kiowa County Fair typically draws about 1,500 people,” Muntz said. “It will be different this year, but special. I would like for everyone to realize how strong they are and how much they have helped each other through this difficult time. In Greensburg, the sense of community has been great and we need to celebrate it.”
More information on the Kiowa County Fair is available by contacting the Extension office at 620-723-2156.


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