Family-friendly fair kicks off Friday

New Era file photo

A fan favorite, the demolition derby will be the highlight event June 22 at the Western Kentucky State Fair grandstand. The WKSF kicks off Friday night at the fairgrounds on Richard Street in Hopkinsville.

Nine days of family-friendly activities, including carnival rides, food, farm animals and concerts kicks off Friday with the annual Western Kentucky State Fair.

All events take place at the fairgrounds on Richard Street. Gate prices are $3 (except Gate 6 and Pit Gate). Any military with identification may enter for $1 ​and children 2 and under are free admission.

"We'll have food booths and various other vendors selling jewelry, stuffed animals and face painting," said Preston Rives, WKSF board president. "It is a local event; we do put it on for the people of western Kentucky to see."

Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday, with carnival rides by Drew Exposition opening at 6 p.m. Cost is $15 Friday for armbands, but ride prices vary nightly.

Rives said Friday night kicks off the action with a concert, Pickin in the Pits, with the Justin Reynolds Band and friends.

"Everybody just has to bring their blanket or lawn chair," he said. "He'll do a variety (of music) all night."

A full day of activities continues June 22 with children's pageants kicking off at 10 a.m. at the fairgrounds Convention Center. Contestants will compete in the Mrs. and Miss WKSF pageants at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively.

The demolition derby, a WKSF fan favorite, opens the grandstand events with competition starting at 7 p.m.

"I think a lot of people just like to see the cars crashing into one another," Rives said. "They get excitement out of it. There are a lot of local participants. It's always been a crowd favorite."

Faith and Family Day follows June 23, with congregations receiving free admission to the fair from 2 until 5 p.m. with church bulletins. Admission is one bulletin per person. Rides will be free admission - one bulletin per person - from 3 to 5 p.m.

Faith and Family Night starts at 6:30 p.m. with concerts featuring Russ Stallons of Gracey West Union Baptist Church, Lisa Balboa from Lane Tabernacle CME and various local church choirs in the fairgrounds Convention Center.

"Everybody will be local that night," he said.

The afternoon highlight event will be the antique tractor pulls at 3 p.m. at the grandstand.

"They have to be an antique tractor to participate," Rives said. "It's a lot of locals in it, but we do have a lot of others from away from here. They like to compete against one another."

Children and adults alike may view local farm animals at a petting farm under the livestock pavilion, starting at 5 p.m. June 24. Rides also open at 5 p.m. with $18 armbands available.

Inside the fairgrounds Convention Center at 7 p.m. contestants will compete for the crown in the Ms. Plus Pageant.

Grandstand entertainment will be a ranch rodeo, featuring local individuals demonstrating working with livestock on a ranch. The event starts at 7 p.m.

"It's a team competition with teams of four. Last year, most of them were local teams," he said. "They did (tasks) that would normally happen on a ranch. It's not like a regular rodeo."

Exhibitors with local 4-H and homemakers groups check-in their exhibits starting at 8 a.m. June 25 at the Convention Center. These groups compete for ribbons and a chance to advance to the state fair competition in August at Louisville.

June 25 is Pennyrile Rural Electric Day at the fair, with the PRECC annual meeting at 4 p.m. at the fairgrounds Convention Center. Gates open at 4 p.m. for general admission. Rides open at 5 p.m.

PRECC members with coupons will be granted free admission until 6 p.m.

Fairgoers may venture over to the livestock pavilion for the 4-H/FFA Rabbit and Poultry Show at 6 p.m.

In the fairgrounds Convention Center, Ben and Noel Haggard, sons of legendary country singer Merle Haggard will perform at 7 p.m.

Meanwhile, go-carts will race at top speeds around the grandstand starting at 7 p.m.

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"They have kids divisions, adult divisions, but all different types of go-carts," Rives said. "It's not your average go-cart. They've all been souped up and very high speed."

Youth in 4-H and FFA will present their Dairy Goat Show at 9 a.m. June 26 at the livestock pavilion to start WKSF activities for the day.

Guests may view the 4-H, FFA and homemakers exhibits starting at 4 p.m. in the fairgrounds Convention Center small room.

Animal lovers should note the petting farm opens at 5 p.m. in the livestock pavilion and the 4-H/FFA Market Goat Show starts at 6 p.m.

Todd County's Jacob Johnson will perform in concert at 7 p.m. in the Convention Center.

More live entertainment will feature lawn tractor pulls at 7 p.m. at the grandstand.

"You wouldn't mow your yard with them," Rives said. "They're all souped up with various types of motors on them. Very loud and fast and powerful little lawn mowers."

Christian County Farm Bureau Day is June 27. The company will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kentucky Farm Bureau.

"They will be having a Model T Ford here that's been traveling around the state that Farm Bureau has restored in honor of their 100th year," Rives said.

The Farm Bureau meeting starts at 4 p.m. at the fairgrounds Convention Center. Farm Bureau members receive free admission with a coupon until 6 p.m.

Gates open at 4 p.m. Horse lovers may enjoy viewing the Durham Clydesdales on the fairgrounds throughout the evening.

"Some of these are the retired Budweiser horses," Rives said. "They'll come to the track. At the start of the tractor pulls, they'll circle around the track pulling the wagon."

Local and area 4-Hers and FFA members present a sheep show at 6 p.m. in the livestock pavilion.

Evening entertainment includes preacher and Oak Grove native Jimmy Stewart and Friends in the fairgrounds Convention Center at 6 p.m.

"It will be some Bluegrass gospel music," Rives said.

Farm stock tractor and diesel truck pulls begin at 7 p.m. in the grandstand.

"The farmers just bring their tractors out of the field. These are not considered antiques, they'll be the newer ones, and they'll be bigger. They'll start at 10,000 pounds and go to 32,000 pounds," Rives said. "The diesel trucks, we'll have a couple of classes of those. That's something new this year. We've had some diesel trucks in the past, but it's been a while."

With only two WKSF days left, fairgoers should check out the petting farm at 5 p.m. and the Durham Clydesdales throughout the night June 28. Gates open at 4 p.m.

Carnival rides are $20 for unlimited rides with armbands starting at 5 p.m.

Other memorable events will be the 4-H/FFA Cattle Show at 6 p.m. in the livestock pavilion and the 7 p.m. Barn Bash concert featuring Blane Howard and Queeva in the fairgrounds Convention Center.

"WKDZ is helping to sponsor that. It's going to be a fundraiser for Pennyroyal Hospice," Rives said, noting that shirts will be available for a donation to hospice.

In the grandstand, hold your ears for the Mid-South Truck and Tractor Pulls, starting at 7.

"We have nine different classes. All nine classes will pull Friday night. All nine classes pull Saturday night. Some of them get pretty loud," Rives said. "They try to put on a good show out here. They run two sleds and try to keep it going so there's not a lull. There's always something to watch."

Local 4-Hers and FFA members start the final WKSF day at 9 a.m. with the market hog show in the livestock pavilion.

Gates open at 4 p.m. with $20 unlimited rides with armbands starting at 5 p.m.

Competitive corn hole players may test their skills in a tournament starting at 7 p.m. in the fairgrounds Convention Center small room.

"It's been pretty popular in the past," Rives said.

Meanwhile, UCW wrestling takes place in the main room of the Convention Center.

Sounds of the Mid-South Truck and Tractor Pulls will fill the grandstand and the surrounding neighborhoods at 7 p.m. to finish out another WKSF.

For more information, call the Western Kentucky State Fair office at 270-885-5237.

Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or

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