Old-timey Vinland Fair to bring food and fun this week

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Brenna Hawley-Craig is ready for some pie. 

She’ll have her fill next week at the Vinland Fair, a free, three-day event featuring a tractor pull, field day races, a talent show, live bands — and lots of homemade pie. 

“I always like to try as many flavors of pie as possible, so come hungry,” said Hawley-Craig, a long-running Vinland Fair volunteer. 

Often described as “old-timey,” the Vinland Fair takes place Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 3-5 at 1736 North 700 Road in Baldwin City. There are no rides, but there are different activities to do each day, and if you ask Hawley-Craig, there are events that’ll entice anyone. 

“I really like seeing what adults can participate in too, like the tractor pull, the exhibits and especially the homemade ice cream competition that caps off the fair,” she said. “It’s a hallmark of the end of summer, and it’s a great place for kids to run around, compete in fun activities and just be kids.” 

Kids shuck corn at the 2022 Vinland Fair. (Courtesy photo)

One fair highlight is its talent show, led by Matt Kirby. Open to all ages, the talent show is at 6 p.m. Thursday. There’s no pressure, no prize, and no judging.

It’s not too late to participate. Kirby said people can notify him about their talent as late as 2 p.m. Thursday. 

“You just get up and do your thing,” Kirby said. “My favorite thing about it is just the surprise of seeing what people come up with.”

From hypnotizing a chicken to dancing like a robot, people sometimes surprise you when they reveal their talent, Kirby said. 

Watching the talent show is one of volunteer Lisa Nelick’s summer rituals. 

“You go get your meal or your piece of pie and sit down and watch the talent show and then listen to some great free music every single night,” Nelick said. “(The talent show) is like performing for your aunts and uncles at a family reunion. You know everybody’s going to be thrilled.”

Nelick has been attending Vinland Fair for 25 years — since her children were in kindergarten. Now that her children are in their early 30s, she remains a volunteer. She helps judge some of the floral displays for the fair’s exhibit competition, which is still accepting entries.

“We love to see new adult entries, too… and if you have something that doesn’t even actually fit in any of those categories, you can usually bring it,” Nelick said.

Nelick enjoys the miniature category: arrangements under 4 inches tall. 

“Kids love doing that. Whether they empty out the salt shaker or whatever, they find lots of cute little vases and containers and we get everything from white clover to sometimes a four leaf clover,” Nelick said. 


If you have entries, you can bring them Thursday, Nelick said. The earlier the better. 

In addition to the talent show and the exhibit competition, there are field day events for children on Friday. 

Last year was the first one Hawley-Craig’s twins, age 4, were old enough to take part in the races. One of her sons competed in the foot race and won for his age category. Who knows what memories this year’s fair will dispense. 

“I fully expect my kids to go every year and grow up with the fair being a normal end of summer thing,” Hawley-Craig said.

Vinland Fair highlights:

Thursday, Aug. 3:
6 p.m. – Talent show
7:30 p.m. – Alferd Packer Memorial String Band performs

Friday, Aug. 4:
10 a.m. – Stock bicycle races
Noon – Field day events: foot race, sack race, softball throw and tug of war
6 p.m. – Tractor pull
7:30 p.m. – Wheatfield Rebellion performs

Saturday, Aug. 5:
10 a.m. – Registration for box turtle race and pet parade
11 a.m. – Box turtle race and pet parade
2:30 p.m. – Pedal tractor pull
7:30 p.m. – Homemade ice cream serving
7:30 p.m. – The Crumpletons perform

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Chansi Long (she/her) reported for The Lawrence Times from July 2022 through August 2023. Read more of her work for the Times here.

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