It is here. The Missouri State Fair officially begins today and for many visitors a concern before they leave for the Fair is the inevitable question of where to park once you arrive on the fairgrounds.
There are a few simple rules of the lot that will make your parking experience at the Fair much easier.
“We have five general admissions lots and also some restricted lots within the grounds themselves,” Parking Superintendent Danette Pollitt said. “The most important thing that people can do to help not only us, but also themselves, is simply to park in the space you are directed to.”
Pollitt has 23 years of experience with parking vehicles at the Fair and has served as the Superintendent of Parking for four years.
“I want people to realize that I have some incredible supervisors who work at the lots,” Pollitt said. “Together they have more than 90 years of experience working here. I also have some really great kids who work for us.”
Most of the 65 employees who work in the lots are between the ages of 14 through 18. While that may seem young, many of the employees have multiple years of experience directing the parking.
“I tell all of my employees that they are the first ambassadors that visitors to the Fair come in contact with so they need to be polite and welcome everyone here,” Pollitt said.
“I hope visitors to the Fair understand that even though they go through training, these are young adults who are working here for an 11-day time period,” she added. “By the time they really get it down, the Fair is over.”
Pollitt went on to explain that since the lots are not paved or marked, every day is different and can present a new set of problems.
“We really don’t park the cars in the same way each day.” Pollitt said. “We take each vehicle as it comes to us and we park them in that order.”
The first cars in the lot park the closest to the ticket booth. For that reason, Pollitt recommends coming to the Fair as early as possible for the best parking location, especially on the weekends.
It is Pollitt who makes the determination when a gate needs to be closed or reopened based on the recommendation of the supervisors. The supervisors are constantly checking the lots to check for availability of space.
“I know it’s frustrating when people are coming to the Fair and they drive by a lot and see empty spaces,” Pollitt said. “We make the decision to close a lot based on several factors including the number of vehicles waiting in line.”
The Fair does not allow overnight parking, so Pollitt and her supervisors check the lots nightly for vehicles.
If a vehicle is left overnight it is towed to an impound lot on the Fairgrounds. The owner of the vehicle is required to pay a $40 tow fee.
“That is something a lot of people tend to get upset about,” Pollitt said. “They also really don’t like it when people triple-park either. It creates so many problems for us.”
Rain can also create problems for parking because too much causes ruts and at times leads to vehicles that may become stuck.
“I just don’t think there will ever be a day when the lots are paved,” Pollitt said. “It would be a tremendous expense and it really would take away from the beauty of the grounds.
“We have trams that run the lots to take visitors to the ticket booths,” Pollitt added. “Really we want to make a visit to the Fair as enjoyable as possible and a little patience on everyone’s part can go a long way to ensure that.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484