Livestock entries in the state fair are usually not the same ones at the county fair because 4-Hers want their livestock to be market ready when they reach the state fair.

The Kansas State Fair starts in three weeks and runs from Sept. 7-16. Pratt County 4-Hers are preparing, but not with the same entries they had at the county fair.

The livestock will be totally different at the state fair. There is a livestock nomination process with forms to fill out and DNA samples that have to be sent in to verify that the livestock truly belongs to the 4-Her. The DNA samples help prove the animals belong to the 4-Her and didn’t come from a professional breeder, said Pratt County Extension Agent Jodi Drake.

Each animal has to have a 4-H tag number in the ear. The nomination information is sent to Kansas State University to the youth animal sciences department where it’s processed to make sure all the information is correct. A fee is required for each animal. Rabbits have to have a tattoo in an ear.

The reason the livestock at the state fair is not the same as the livestock at the county fair is market readiness. The goal of 4-H livestock is to be market ready at the county fair. If they kept feeding the animal for another six weeks, it would not be past its prime condition. And with the money invested in livestock, the 4-Her wants their animal to do a good job at the state fair, Drake said.

Documentation for the state fair is done long before the fair starts. Beef information has to be complete by May 1 and everything else for livestock has to be sent in by June 15. Other fair entries were due Aug. 15. State fair entries have to meet the set deadlines.

“You have to be organized. They’re not going to take late entries,” Drake said. “You really have to be on it."

These nominations also clear 4-Hers to enter the Kansas Junior Livestock Show that takes place after the State Fair and on the fair grounds in Hutchinson.

When it’s time to head to the fair, the 4-Hers bring their static entries to the office and the extension agents take them to the fair at 8 a.m. on the first Friday of the fair. Entries have to be in place quickly because judging starts at 10 a.m. on that Friday. The fashion review entries are the responsibility of the individual 4-Her.

While extension office personnel will take the smaller entries, 4-Hers are responsible for getting their livestock and feed to the fair. Livestock check-in for 4-Hers is the Thursday before the fair starts. Their entries have to stay at the fair the entire weekend.

The wheat market entries have to be at the fair even earlier. New Pratt County Extension Agent Victoria Simonsen will take the wheat market entries to the fair a week before the fair starts so all the testing can be completed. Drake will be acting as clerk for the fiber arts projects including quilts and needle work.

Having livestock at the fair also costs money. There are livestock entry fees, parking permits, gate tickets for kids and adults plus the cost of feed.

“It’s not a cheap weekend at the fair,” Drake said.

About 35 Pratt County 4-Hers will have entries at the fair this year. Three will take part in the fashion review the second Saturday of the fair. There will be several horse show entries plus entries in photography, quilts, foods, sewing, woodworking, rocketry, lots of photos and the livestock exhibits.