From videos featuring a unique perspective, to new competitions and refurbished buildings, this year’s Missouri State Fair is certainly on-point for the theme, “See What Crops Up.”
MSF Director Mark Wolfe said this year’s theme is set to encourage those who never explore other areas of the fair to do so.
“A lot of times people come to the fair and very seldom wander off the main streets, and never look around the corner to see what’s over there,” he said. “So we are telling everybody, don’t be afraid to go down any street and see what’s around the corner because you never know what’s going to crop up.”
A new concept this year at the Missouri State Fair is a “Crop Cam” that will give the fair a fun, new perspective.
“We bought a GoPro Camera this year and we’re going to get all these cameo shots,” Wolfe said.
They plan to have children wear the camera as they go on carnival rides and possibly use it on animals to gain their viewpoint of the fair.
“We’re going to tinker with that this year and see what we can come up with,” he added. “Hopefully we’ll come up with some good videos. Every year as we are planning the fair we think ‘I wish we’d got a video of this or a video of that.’ When you’re trying to do commercials it’s good to have some actual footage of the fair. It could be really useful.”
A new competition this year is the eight-horse draft competition scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 21.
“It’s going to be really phenomenal,” Wolfe said.
The MSF has a six-horse draft competition in the Mathewson Exhibition Center each year. The eight-horse competition will take the contest up a notch.
“That place will be packed,” Wolfe said. “It’s one of those free events that everybody comes out and likes to watch. It’s impressive to see big teams of draft horses perform.”
Competition entry numbers this year are on track when compared to previous years. By July 19 Wolfe said there were “well over” 17,000 entries.
“We have a lot of events that the deadlines are right up to fair time,” he noted.
When it’s all said and done, entry numbers could range from 29,000 to 31,000 entries.
Also new are the Dexter and Red Angus shows, natural colored fleeced shows, a lunch box special contest in the Home Economics Building, a modified 4-by-4 truck competition and the Outlaw Truck and Tractor pull and racing.
New events are Throwback Thursday, Aug. 18 with MSF admission costing $5 for adults, and admission for children 12 and under will be free. On the Kid’s Stage, Barnyard Storytime will be presented by 4-H and FFA youth exhibitors. Bing’s Grocery Stores will host a Can Creation contest Tuesday, Aug. 16. With the help of 4-H and FFA youth, children can make a sculpture from cans.
Upgrades to several buildings on the fairgrounds have taken place over the last year.
“So much of the time our money is spent on the mechanical side, air conditioning and electrical,” Wolfe said. “But, we have some things we did this year. The Beef House has a new covered breezeway. We did a complete renovation of the Children’s Barnyard, we are getting pretty close to being completed over there. It’s close to a $105,000 to $110,000 project.”
Remodeling has been done under the stage at the Pepsi Grandstand.
“Which fair-goers will never see, but the entertainers will appreciate I’m sure,” Wolfe added.
Eight new commercial fans costing a total of $77,000 have been added to the Swine Pavilion, which will help circulate air. Improvements in the Sheep Pavilion include new pens, new waterlines and electrical drops.
Tickets sales for entertainment have been good, Wolfe said.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good lineup this year,” he added. “We’re a little bit country heavy, in terms of genres of music, but that seems to sell pretty good at the State Fair, it kind of fits our crowd. Our biggest classic rock act is Steppenwolf and Molly Hatchet. For all the ’70s rockers, they can come out see some stuff they used to listen to all the time.
“Generally speaking, we usually do a smaller act opening night, than we did this year,” he said. “Three Doors Down is a pretty big act.”
The Tractor Pull, a popular event for many, has been changed this year.
“We’re still doing Sunday and Monday both at the Grandstand,” He said. “But we separated and we’re combining all the Missouri Association Championship Truck and Tractor Pull, qualifying and finals, just on Sunday, instead of over the two days. Then on Monday, this year, we have the Outlaws Truck and Tractor Pulls coming back. They haven’t been here in about 10 years.”
Free entertainment this year will include regulars such as Hendrick’s Racing Pigs, The Amazing Anastasini Circus, Professor Farquar and Polecat Annie and Hotel California, “A Salute to the Eagles.”
“I was amazed at how good they really were,” Wolfe said of Hotel California. “I was impressed, I thought they were really, really good. It’s hard to come across acts like that.”
Some new entertainment will include the BMX Stunt Show, RobotCars, and James Wedgewood, a comic ventriloquist.
“This RobotCars act is a strong act,” he said. “It’s actually a person in this suit or uniform. It’s pretty amazing, he can fold up and look like a car. So, it’s pretty neat.”
Also listed as free entertainment, the Budweiser Stage will feature known names such as Dirt Road Addiction, and the Nace Brothers plus a new band, The Vincents.
Wolfe said people need to take advantage of buying tickets and carnival wristbands ahead of time.
“Everybody worries about money,” he noted. “Folks need to take advantage of pre-sale stuff. We have three outlets around the state, Break Time, Orscheln’s Farm and Home and Walgreens. All three of those businesses around the state of Missouri sell our admission tickets (and) our advance admission tickets all the way through Aug. 10. So you can save $2. Then Walgreens also sells our wristband specials for the carnival.”
Fair-goers will find three types of wristbands for people to choose from with various prices.
The 2016 Missouri State Fair opens Thursday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 21. Admission (except for designated days) is $10 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under, and $7 for seniors 60 plus.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or @flbemiss.