Kentucky State Fair

Lisa Gillespie

Kentucky has a complicated relationship with tobacco. At one time the plant was the biggest cash crop in the state. But that’s changed dramatically. Back in 1999, Kentucky farmers harvested 221,000 acres. Last year, the yield had plummeted to only 68,000 aces of tobacco.

For the Tribble family of Mercer County, this means a husband having to leave work as a full-time farmer for a public service job. But as WFPL’s Lisa Gillespie reports, Rhonda Tribble doesn’t want people to use tobacco products — but she wishes it wouldn’t go away altogether.

Kentucky State Fair Tightens Security After Shooter Scare

Aug 20, 2019
Ryan Van Velzer

A new policy will require minors to bring an adult with them if they’re going to the Kentucky State Fair at night.

The policy, announced through a press release Monday, says fairgoers under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian who is 21 years of age or older with them when attending the fair after 6 p.m. The policy also requires proof of age, and officials say there will be increased lighting and more law enforcement workers there during peak hours.

Kentucky State Fair Spokesperson Ian Cox said false reports of an active shooter at the fair prompted the policy.

Amina Elahi

The Fireball ride had been running for just over an hour at the 2018 Kentucky State Fair when something went wrong, and ride operator Duanne Haywood and a few other workers went underneath.

Within minutes, Haywood was pinned, his body bent in half under the weight of the ride.

Haywood was tasked with setting up and running the controversial ride by his employer, North American Midway Entertainment (NAME), last summer at the Kentucky State Fairgrounds.

Adrian Cable/WikimediaCommons

The Kentucky State Fair starts on Thursday, and the presenting sponsor will be a hemp production company — a first in the fair’s 115-year history.

State Fair officials named GenCanna as the presenting sponsor in a June 4 announcement, adding that hemp has a promising future in Kentucky. The company will host a booth at the fair with free merchandise, information on partner opportunities and educational information about hemp. State Fair spokesman Ian Cox said the fair board chose GenCanna because of its work promoting Kentucky’s agriculture.


Kentucky State Fair

State officials are raising awareness about the Zika virus at this year's Kentucky State Fair.

Officials from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, the Kentucky Department of Public Health and the state agriculture department are holding an informational event for the media on Thursday at the fair.

Their goal is promote awareness about the Zika virus. The officials involved include Dr. Ardis Hoven with the Department for Public Health and ag commissioner Ryan Quarles.

The informational session will be at the Health Horizons Area, South Wing B of the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Committee To Examine Kentucky State Fair Attendance Drop

Nov 25, 2014
Kentucky State Fair

The chairman of the Kentucky State Fair Board has named a committee to evaluate the event, which saw attendance drop by about 100,000 this year to the smallest crowd in 30 years.

The Courier-Journal said Chairman Mark Lynn named the committee and said he would head the panel.

The fair is held for 11 days every August and has been in existence for more than a century.

Fair board finance chief Anthony Leachman reported last week that the 2014 fair lost more than $200,000, bringing in $9.3 million with expenses of more than $9.5 million.

Fair board president and CEO Clifford "Rip" Rippetoe declined to say whether there are any major problems with the fair. He said the deep attendance drop this year was an "anomaly."

Kentucky State Fair's "Pie-Gate" Continues

Sep 19, 2014

The Louisville woman whose prize winning recipe for buttermilk pie featured a store-bought crust has lost her winning blue ribbon.

Kentucky State Fair officials took the blue ribbon away the blue ribbon Linda Horton was awarded at the fair last month. State fair Culinary Director Steve Lee said the entry was disqualified and the ribbon withdrawn because the 67 year old Horton's use of a commercial pie crust went against the rules.

Horton said earlier she used the store-bought crust because her own homemade crust doesn't turn out right and she wasn't aware of the rule.

Jacob Ryan/Kentucky Public Radio

The Kentucky State Fair Grand Champion country ham sold for a record $2 million at a charity auction this morning.

Owners of Louisville's Hermitage Farms, Bridgeman Foods and Republic Bank put their financial powers together to jointly purchase the ham at the annual Kentucky Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast.

Hermitage Farms and Bridgeman Foods agreed to each give $500,000 for the ham and Republic Bank is picking up the other $1 million.

The champion ham was produced by Broadbents B and B Foods in western Kentucky. It’s co-owned by Ronnie and Beth Drennan.

“It all goes for charity.  We don’t’ get the ham back,” said Ronnie Drennan. “This is the ninth time we’ve won it since we bought the business.   We just pride ourselves in making good-quality products.”

The buyers say the sale proceeds will be donated to charities in the education and health care areas. The nearly 16 pound grand champion ham will also be given to a charitable organization.

Kentucky State Fair Opens in Louisville

Aug 14, 2014
Kentucky State Fair

Kentucky's annual showcase of its people's work, hobbies and talents gets underway Thursday morning when the gates open for the 2014 Kentucky State Fair.

Things begin at 7:00 a.m. EDT with the traditional Kentucky ham breakfast where the grand champion ham will be auctioned off for charity.

Animals from rabbits to lambs to cows and pigs will be on display, concerts will be held throughout the Fair's 11 day run and cakes, pies, baskets and embroidery will be judges and enjoyed by the public. The world's championship horse show is also held during the fair.

Kentucky State Fair Sees Attendance Increase

Aug 29, 2013
Kentucky State Fair

The Kentucky State Fair finished its 11-day run with a flourish.  The final day of the fair drew 9,000 more fairgoers than the last day in 2012.  That helped push attendance for this year’s fair to 615,648, a slight increase from last year. 

“The response we heard was tremendous,” said Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe, the president and CEO of the State Fair board. “We introduced some positive changes to the Fair this year and heard encouraging feedback to build on.”

Changes this year in Louisville included free weekend parking at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and concerts on the field at Old Cardinal Stadium.

Pork and Politics at Annual Ham Breakfast

Aug 22, 2013

Pork and politics will be on the menu at the Kentucky Country Ham Breakfast and Auction at the state fairgrounds in Louisville.

A sellout crowd of 1,600 will be served 450 pounds of country ham along with other fixings at the Thursday morning event. They'll then hear speeches from some of the state's political leaders including senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Governor Steve Beshear.

For some, the main event will be an auction of the state fair's grand champion ham. The prize ham will be garnished with roses on a silver platter held by Miss Kentucky while the auctioneer calls for bids. Last year's 17.6 pound ham fetched a winning bid of $300,000. All the money raised from the auction is donated to the charity of the winning bidder's choice.

Temporary workers are needed for this year's Kentucky State Fair, and applications will be accepted starting Monday. The Courier-Journal says positions include maintenance staff, grounds, housekeeping, admission gate keepers, tour guides and tram drivers.