The plans for the sheep and swine "Judging Pavilion for the Kansas State
Fair at Hutchinson" were drawn by State Architect Ray L. Gamble in
1919. The Fair Board of Managers Report for that year states that the
"Board undertook the task of building under most unusual and
extraordinary conditions owing to the scarcity of both labor and
material and the unusual high price of both. Upon advertising for bids
for construction of buildings it was found that no contractor would make
a bid which would come within the amount appropriated. Thereupon the
Board undertook to build by purchasing material and employing labor
direct according to the plans and specifications submitted by State
Architect Gamble. The brick sent from the State Penitentiary and the
labor furnished by the State Reformatory made building at all possible."
The pavilion and office were finally constructed and by 1925 four wood
frame animal barns had been built, three to the east and one to the west
of the Judging Pavilion. The animal barns were replaced with metal pole
barns in the early 1960s.
By 1919, the Legislature was making significant appropriations "for the purpose of paying the general expenses of maintaining the Kansas State Fair." Expenditures projected for 1920 and 1921 included additional sheep and swine barns, continued improvement of the cattle and horse pavilion, additional barns, and addition to the race track Grandstand, roads and sewer improvements as well as maintenance.
A significant number of improvements were obtained by the combination of architectural plans drawn by the State Architect and continuing source of labor from the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory. The small amount of funding for improvements, $46,000 for 1920, built much needed permanent structures. The same year that the legislature created the state fairground, Superintendent Herr of the Industrial Reformatory, with legilastive concurrence (Chapter 346, Session Laws 1913) began a still continuing tradition of providing prison labor to the fairgrounds. In 1920 the reformatory furnished a total of 1,464 days of labor. The State Architect stated that three of the new buildings would have cost $12,507 more without the prison labor.
The new Agricultural Building (now demolished) was the most valuable building on the Fairgrounds according to the 1919--1920 annual report. The riverside Park Auditorium, having served in three locations, was demolished to make way for more modern buildings. "To solve the over-crowded conditions of the hotels for entertaining over-night visitors to the State Fair," a Tent City was created in 1921. A "community house" provided "electric light, city water, shower baths, sanitary toilets and dressing rooms for both men and women." It also contained "a large reading and writing table, fireplace and a drinking fountain." Tent City was considered one of the most valuable features for the comfort and economy of the patrons of the fair. Not only could fairgoers rent a tent but also available were blankets, sheets, pillows, oil stoves and "other necessary things." The camping facilities were eventually closed and the community house demolished.
The fair continued to grow and new permanent buildings were constructed throughout the 1920s. Fire destroyed a number of wood frame buildings and the trend was to replace them with substantial, fireproof, brick structures. The Legislature provided small amounts of funding, generally $15,000 to $20,000 per year, for a variety of building, utility, and landscaping improvements.