Visitors to the Missouri State Fair often are not sure where to look first from the colorful array of merchandise and stuffed animals or the bright lights from the concert stage and the rides of the Midway.
Upon a closer inspection, there is one group of individuals that often goes unnoticed but without them and the work that they do, a visit to the Fair may not be as enjoyable. They are the Blue Ribbon Volunteers.
“I can’t tell you how much the Foundation appreciates the men and women who give up their time to volunteer at the Fair every year,” Wendy Faulconer, executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation, said. “They come from all walks of life and do whatever is needed and the Fair wouldn’t be what it is each year without them.”
Faulconer said last year more than 550 individuals gave of their time in some capacity to help during the 11-day event.
“Some of them may be here to work for only a few hours and others are here for the day and some volunteer every day of the Fair,” Faulconer said. “Many of them tell me that the reason they volunteer each year is because they simply love the Fair.”
Two places where the volunteers are most visible are at the six gazebo locations where bottled water is sold and the two information booths on the Fairgrounds.
“Last year we sold 74,000 bottles of water during the Fair,” Falconer said. “It’s a service we provide for visitors and we use the money we raise in turn to make improvements on the Fairgrounds as well as the historic preservation work and educational programs we provide.
“It takes a coordinated effort to keep the gazebos stocked with ice and water,” she added with a smile. “Fortunately, we have a few men who have the routes and planning down to a science.”
A number of other volunteers work at the AgriMissouri Bistro and Market or at one of three souvenir locations, which are the only officially licensed outlets for State Fair merchandise.
“We are really trying to grow the program and have more FFA and 4-H members volunteer,” Faulconer said. “We know it’s difficult for them because so many of them are exhibiting but we do have some chapters who bring a bus load of students and sponsors and they make a day of it.
“After they spend some time volunteering they have the rest of the day to enjoy at the Fair,” she added. “I don’t think it’s the reason any of our volunteers help us but we do provide them with free admission and parking if they volunteer.”
Faulconer said the Foundation welcomes the time, talent and resources of anyone who would like to volunteer not only during the Fair but throughout the year.
“We have events at the fairgrounds on a year-long basis and we appreciate the hard work and efforts that our volunteers provide,” Faulconer said. “We simply couldn’t do it without those who volunteer.”
For more information on becoming a Blue Ribbon Volunteer for the Missouri State Fair Foundation, contact Faulconer at [email protected]
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.