Imagine, if you will, the entrances to the State Fair. The excitement building in the kids as they smell the food and hear the noise. Some have their tickets, and some don’t, so lines form at the counters. Once tickets are bought, the patrons enter the gates, have their tickets torn, and receive a map and list of the days events. Then it happens. They take about 5 steps and stop, stare at the map, flip to the events list, look at their watch, then look at the map once more.

For seasoned fair goers, like myself, you immediately head toward that favorite thing you look at every year (like the butter carving, the grandstand shops, the art exhibits, the KWCH booth, or the nearest Pronto Pup stand…), but a lot of people don’t make it every year, or they just want to hit that first event right on time. Well, lucky for them, there’s now help. And they can even check it out before they even get to the fair.

The Kansas State Research and Extension offices and the Hutchinson News (Sponsored by PrairieLand Partners) have teamed up to develop a wonderful resource for just such a purpose. They call it an app. I wouldn’t, since it’s technically a webpage, but for the lack of a better word, app will do (ignore my technical nit picking). Anyway, it has a list of Goods, Food, Vendors, and Exhibitors. There’s also a search bar to help you find things as well. When you find what you’re looking for, it points out the locations on the map, leading you right to them.

Here is the link: There will also be QR codes around the fairgrounds that will lead you straight to this site. This “app” is a huge improvement over last year’s link.

For a brief history, last year, the QR codes led to the events page on the KSF website. It worked in a pinch, but wasn’t as good as it could have been, and wasn’t geared towards mobile. You gotta start somewhere, right? I’m glad they tried it, because it ultimately led to what we have this year.

I really like this webpage, and I don’t want to tear it apart, but I feel a review wouldn’t be complete without it.

Ok, so here are my little nitpick items. First, there is no zooming option. If you have a hard time reading on tiny screens, or if you need to enlarge the buttons so you don’t “fat finger” your selection, it won’t work. Mobile webpages built around a certain size have this problem, so it’s not just them.

Second, the map doesn’t show where you are. Now, this matters more and less than you might think. The map is detailed, shows roads and landmarks, and there are road signs at the fair, believe it or not. The lack of GPS location is a symptom of this not being a true app.

Third, the map doesn’t center or resize based on your selections. Also hard to do since it’s a webpage rather than an app.

Fourth, it would be nice to have a description of the kinds of food at the stand you select, rather than simply searching for each food item.

Overall, I love this! There’s always room for improvement, but I don’t see that they had the budget to really make an app for this. My recommendation? Use it. Use it often. Use it before and during your time at the fair. Show everyone that this is very useful and that further development is needed.

Also, if you made it this far, please visit the Brackett Concessions booths throughout the fairgrounds  and the Steer & Stein booth in the Prairie Pavilion. Shameless plug for family.