The 2015 Missouri State Fair theme, “Show Offs Welcome,” is not only a play on the Show-Me State, but also to emphasize what the Fair is all about — Missourians showing off their talents.
This year’s theme is meant to put an emphasis on youth exhibitors who spend so much time on their livestock projects, but MSF Director Mark Wolfe also noted the theme can incorporate the dozens of competitions over the 11-day event.
“The theme came from kind of what the Fair is all about, which is our youth exhibitors,” he said Monday. “… The idea for the theme was for these kids to show off what they’ve been doing with these projects, and we can incorporate that with a lot of things for the fair. … The theme is geared toward our youth exhibitors, but you can go through the Home Ec Building and you’ve got people there showing off their cooking skills. The vendors, they’re here to show off their product. A lot of the things you see in those vendor buildings, you can’t buy anywhere else.”
The number of contest entries wasn’t available at press time, but Wolfe said entries are expected to hit the average of roughly 30,000.
Fair visitors will notice Let’s Talk Livestock events each day, which will feature Missouri 4-H and Missouri FFA youth exhibitors, their families, project leaders and teachers who have volunteered their time to conduct demonstrations throughout the Fair. The featured animal will be present at each 20-minute demonstration with an opportunity for questions and interaction from fair-goers.
Wolfe said the idea for the event started after Gov. Jay Nixon had a forum with Missouri agriculture students during last year’s fair, which was a well-received event.
“They were able to sit there and handle it like adults. I think (Nixon) was blown away by their maturity,” Wolfe said. “We just thought this year might be fun, in an effort to tell 4-H and FFA’s story, why not give these kids a chance to maybe bring their project, we’ll hand them a microphone and they’ll talk about the process of a project they’re doing through FFA (or 4-H).
“The thinking being, here’s a chance to tell their story — if you’re not in those organizations, you may not really know what they do and how it works. I think there’s an opportunity to give that message to kids from more urban areas at the Fair that maybe don’t know that much about it, and it could be good for their membership.”
For those visitors who haven’t visited the Fair before, Wolfe recommended grabbing a map and walking through all the roads of the fairgrounds — “you can’t make a wrong turn,” he said.
“I would advise people not to be afraid to turn down this street, go down there and see what’s there,” he added. “When you come through the gated admission booths, there’s things to see all over every corner of the fairgrounds.”
He also recommended checking out the wide variety of free entertainment offered at the Fair.
“Our free entertainment, everything we do with entertainment is ever-changing — different kinds of acts, different kinds of free entertainment,” he said. “We have a tiger show this year, a strong woman performing at the fair this year. … It’s not new to the fair, but it’s been 10 years since we’ve had the Budweiser Clydesdales and they’re coming back this year.
“Some of the things that are new are geared around the kids — our Let’s Talk Livestock event we’ll do with the kids, recognition things we’re doing for 4-H and FFA leadership. Racing is back, it’s not new, but it’s been several years so we’re excited about that.”
In addition to free entertainment, the Fair offers eight ticketed concerts at the Grandstand. Tickets are still available for all eight concerts. So far Alabama, with opening act Michael Ray, is the highest-selling concert for 2015, with Def Leppard, Styx and Tesla close behind.
“We have probably the biggest Grandstand line-up we’ve ever had, as far as big name acts. We spent more money this year than we ever have on free entertainment to bolster that,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe acknowledged that the Fair falls much later than usual this year, which can interfere with the start of school, but he said he thought it could create an opportunity to visit the Fair at night instead.
“I think there’s a really good opportunity for folks to come out in the evening,” he said. “We’ve got discounts, $5 (tickets) after 5 (p.m.) that we do Sunday through Thursday, it’s a pretty good bargain.”
For full schedules, maps and more information, visit mostatefair.com.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.