By Ellen R. Stapleton, The Associated Press
And Brenna R. Kelly, The Cincinnati Enquirer
Advertisements featuring corn on the cob with a Kentucky-shaped bite missing have been asking an important question for months: "Are you getting ready for the State Fair?"
Luke and Jacob Rebholz, of southern Campbell County, have been ready since Monday. That's when the teenage brothers delivered their honey to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center in Louisville.
With bottles of Windex and paper towels, the brothers, who have been beekeeping for about four years, made sure their jars didn't have a smudge on them.
"You can't have any fingerprints on it," said Jacob Rebholz, 15. Not only do the jars have to be perfect, "you can't have any sugar crystals in the honey - and no bubbles."
Thousands of Kentuckians will be ready today when the fair begins its 11-day run.
The Rebholz brothers and their mother, Rita, will return to Louisville Saturday to see if their honey took any ribbons. Last year, Jacob won the most ribbons in the youth open division. Luke, 14, has taken second place in the 4-H division several times.
"That way they aren't competing against each other," their mother said.
During the fair, about 44,000 entries will compete for blue ribbons in 29 departments - from fish to flowers to fruit. The fair will award 22,500 ribbons.
In addition to the traditional judging, the state fair will be serving up some new attractions to try to boost attendance over last year's 618,954.
"We're always thinking about how we can broaden our base by bringing in new attractions," said Amanda Storment, spokeswoman for the state fair. "We try to tweak it a little bit while still having our traditional features."
The Gourmet Garden will feature a new culinary showdown on top of its regular bread-baking and bourbon-cooking contests. The daily Cast-Iron Chef Competition, modeled after the television show Iron Chef, will feature two Kentucky cooks racing to prepare their best meal in 30 minutes. Audience members will judge the dishes, which must involve a beef entree, on creativity, taste and presentation.
Where else but the state fair can you find an ugly lamp contest, a rooster crowing contest and pigs racing for Oreo cookies?
For those seeking thrills aside from the rides presented by Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom, Sinbad and the Pirates will perform a new show from an 80-foot high dive. The comedy and suspense routine is based on the movie Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, released in July.
Concerts will take place each night, featuring country, rock, pop, soul and Christian artists. Headliners include Alan Jackson, Hank Williams Jr., the Goo Goo Dolls and Sugar Ray. Country stars Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban will close out the fair. Tickets cost $35 to $37.
There also will be free concerts by the likes of The Oak Ridge Boys, who will make their 27th consecutive appearance. Also offering free shows are Ted Nugent, Ashford & Simpson, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Michael W. Smith, Trick Pony, Tommy James and The Shondells, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, the Three Faces of the King and the Charlie Daniels Band.
There will also be something special for the many horse lovers at this year's fair. The World's Championship Horse Show celebrates its 100th anniversary. The "Centennial of Champions" will feature 2,000 horses competing in more than 200 classes for $1.2 million in awards and trophies. The five-gaited world grand champion will receive $100,000 in prize money.
If you go
Facts about Kentucky State Fair, which runs today to Aug. 24:
Gates open daily at 7 a.m. Exhibit buildings open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thrillway open today to Sunday and Aug. 23-24 from noon to closing, Monday to Aug. 22 from 4 p.m. to closing.
Attendance record: 684,356 in 1994. Single-day attendance record: 106,335 on Saturday, Aug. 21, 1993.
Size: The Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center spans 520 acres.
Budget: $8 million.
Admission: $7 adults, $3 children, $3 seniors. Parking: $4.
Staffed by 1,000 employees and state police from Elizabethtown post.
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