There are several key factors that make the Missouri State Fair an event to remember and on any given day during the Fair two of them, children and livestock, can be found in one location: the Children’s Barnyard.
For more than five decades, the Barnyard has been the place for young and old alike to see a collection of animals found on farms across the state.
The iconic exterior of the building has not changed but those who visit the facility will notice a transformation to the interior designed to make their stay a pleasant one.
“The Children’s Barnyard has undergone a dramatic transformation this year,” said Wendy Faulconer, executive director of the Missouri State Fair Foundation. “The Barnyard has always been one of the most popular at the Fair and with so many people who visit the venue each year; we want it to be the best representation of agriculture in the state.
“One of the things that (Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce) has urged us to do is to strengthen the ties to agricultural education at the Fair and the Barnyard is a perfect place to do that,” she added.
One of the first things visitors will notice is the old dirt and gravel walkways have been replaced with concrete floors.
“So many of our visitors are little children and parents with strollers and it was just difficult for them to get around on the gravel,” Faulconer said. “We also installed two Big Solution Fans which will make the Barnyard much cooler for our guests and the animals as well.”
The Foundation has also recently collaborated with a local firm, LAG Industries of La Monte, to supply new pens for the animals housed in the Barnyard during the Fair.
While many of the improvements are visible, one that is not is new electrical upgrades to the building.
The Children’s Barnyard is a free venue that showcases a variety of animals, cared for by students from three local FFA chapters: Lincoln, Green Ridge and Warsaw.
“I think the Barnyard is a great example of the FFA motto and what these kids stand for and are all about,” Faulconer said. “These students are responsible for providing the animals for the event and staffing it as well.
“It’s hard for a lot of them because school is starting and they have practices and responsibilities at school and many of them are exhibiting here at the Fair,” she added. “They show the leadership, career and character development that are at the heart of the FFA organization.”
The FFA motto consists of 12 words, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve,” that embodies the work the students do at Barnyard and throughout their time at the Fair.
“The students who volunteer at the Barnyard put into practice daily what they have learned and they gear their knowledge to others who often may have no agricultural background,” Faulconer said. “They really do set the stage to continue the theme of agriculture at the Fair.”
The Children’s Barnyard is open for visitors from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the Fair.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.