An Open Letter to the Hipsters of Kansas

Dear Kansas Hipsters,

I have been to the place of your dreams.

It’s a land of wonder and enchantment, filled with all the things you hold dear: pickled vegetables in glass jars! Knitted sweaters and funky scarves! Ironic food! Chickens!

Where is this wonderland?

It’s the Kansas State Fair, which takes place in Hutchinson every September.

And I think it needs your help.

I’ve worked for the past five years in the Domestic Arts building. This is the building with the quilts, the latch-hook portraits of cats, and the exhibition kitchen for the SPAM and hash brown recipe contests.

The median age of the workers is approximately 70. That’s counting myself, which is a number so low that it should be tossed because it’s an outlier.

This year, as I helped my friend Andrea carefully arrange beautiful hand-knit sweaters, scarves and mittens on display racks, I wondered where you were.

Where are your full-arm fingerless mittens for those cold roller derby days, your wacky socks in tie-dyed colors? Where’s the blanket you knit for your baby, the one with the intarsia skull-and-bones? What about the sweater for your boyfriend, which covers up his tattoo sleeves when he visits his grandma?

Where are you, O Urban Pioneer, with your beer-pickled okra, your gluten-free cookies, your heirloom tomatoes?

This could be you.

This could be you.

It’s time to take part in this grand tradition, to stand next to those who have come before you, and learn all that you can before they pass on. You possess an amazing blend of appreciation for traditional art and modern style.

It’s kind of the best set-up, when you think about it, to display your talent with a relative cloak of anonymity. Your photo isn’t included with your work. There are no computer screens for anyone to interact with you.

On the other hand, it’s a way to be recognized for your hard work. It takes time to knit a garment; it’s hard work to stand over a boiling pot while canning pickles. And you could be an inspiration to others who visit and think, “hey, maybe I could do that.”

As a hipster, you want desperately to be cool, without being cool.

I can assure you that this is the best possible place for that to happen.

Start thinking now about what you’ll enter. Next August, make sure everything is finished and hop online to enter your goods.

I’ll see you there.


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