For some, it is a chance to relax and enjoy some entertainment.

For others, it is a way to take in a favorite act. No matter what the reason, thousands of fairgoers at the state's largest event will spend some time at one of the free stages, at the 2002 Kansas State Fair.

Gottschalk Park, Lake Talbott Park and the Farm Bureau Arena will boast free entertainment throughout the 10 days of the Party on the Prairie, Sept. 6 to 15. The free stages will showcase more than 170 performances by Kansans, adding to the variety and flavor of the event. From steel drum bands to country and rock, and from pedal pulls to an auctioneer's contest and educational events, the free stage is a unique experience for the audience.

"The free stages are just one of the many activities that add that 'extra value' to a fairgoer's experience," said Bill Ogg, general manager of the Kansas State Fair. "There is something that appeals to all ages and all interests, because of the variety offered."

Daytime performances afford fairgoers the opportunity to experience homegrown entertainment, as well as the chance to catch a break from other activities.

"For a lot of us, it is a chance to sit down and take a rest or to have a place to rendezvous to get back together," said Charlie Sargent, free stage manager. "It also allows people who know that they like, country, rock or a worship service, a chance to enjoy the entertainment of their choice."

Helping to kick off the activities at the Farm Bureau Arena on the first day of the fair will be Ty England. The country music recording artist, who was a guitarist in Garth Brooks' band for six years, will perform at 3 and 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6. England's single releases include "Should've Asked Her Faster."

Reflecting the variety featured on the free stages, the Farm Bureau Arena also will host the Kansas Pedal Pull Championships, at 1 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 8. Children, ages 4 though 12, who have placed first or second at a local county fair or festival are eligible to compete in the state championship. More than 900 children typically compete.

Some arm twisting will be going on at the Gottschalk Park Gazebo Sunday, Sept. 8, as the Kansas Arm Wrestling Championships get underway at 2 p.m., while the Farm Bureau Arena will host a Kansas Fiesta featuring 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. performances by Trisha Martinez. The San Antonio native began performing at age 16, when she belted out the traditional mariachi song, "Volver, Volver." Martinez's recently released CD is titled, "Acercate."

Free attractions also will add to the value and entertainment value of the fair this year. "Wild Science" will be open for fun from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m., in the Commercial Building, throughout the fair, Sept. 6 through 15. Adults and children will be able to enjoy dozens of interactive exhibits, including manipulating the robotic arm, creating man-sized soap bubbles using radar to measure their pitching speed, taking the "sense of smell" challenge, dancing in the "wall of light," creating high-tech music and exploring the "Rube Goldberg" machine. While a morning, afternoon or evening of fun is the result, learning is the by product of a "Wild Science" experience.

The wild side of nature also will be on display, at this year's fair, with Kachunga and the Alligator. The 300-pound alligator is the center of the attraction, which made its debut at the fair in 2001 and proved to be a popular draw as crowds gathered for the opportunity to learn more about the fascinating creature. The free show, located in Gottschalk Park, will be presented several times daily throughout the fair.

For more information on other attractions and events at the 2002 Kansas State Fair, call 620-669-3600 or visit www.kansasstatefair.com.

A complete listing of the entertainment at the free stages and free attractions featured during Kansas' largest event is included in the 2002 Kansas State Fair Party Planner, available at the fair office, Farm Bureau county offices and Kwik Shop locations statewide. Those wishing to receive a copy by mail can call 1-800-362-3247. Complete information can be found at www.kansasstatefair.com.

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