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Rooks County fair begins tonight





Those wanting one more shot at enjoying the carefree days of summer before the start of the school year can find it this week in Stockton.

The 135th annual Rooks County Free Fair begins tonight with a hamburger feed and ranch rodeo, both free to the public, and continues through Saturday.

Long known as one of the largest and one of the oldest county fairs in Kansas, the "fair of champions since 1879" offers nightly acts under the grandstand as well as bands under the pavilion.

"I remember it as one of my most favorite things of the year, that (the fair) and the Plainville Rodeo," said Roger Hrabe, a native of Rooks County who grew up in Plainville, just 13 miles south of Stockton.

Hrabe has been able to continue attending the fair his entire life as he stayed around his hometown, teaching and coaching in Plainville for nearly 20 years before taking over as director of economic development for Rooks County 14 years ago.

Hrabe, who now lives in Stockton, said he still enjoys the fair that includes a carnival Monday through Saturday and nightly entertainment under the pavilion as well as the feature shows.

Motorcycle races kick off the nightly feature entertainment on Monday and Tuesday, with car races the next two evenings.

Friday is concert night on stage with country artists Curtis Grimes and Kevin Fowler, and Saturday's demolition derby is being billed as "The Crash Up of the Year."

Back this year will be Poppin' Penelope, a balloon artist from Omaha, Neb., who not only twists and fashions shapes out of balloons but includes a comedy show as well.

A complete schedule for the fair can be found on line at rookscountyfreefair.com.