The 112th Missouri State Fair has plenty to offer all Missouri citizens who make the trek to Sedalia over the next few weeks, with old favorites returning along new contests, concerts and events.
Themed “Harvest the Fun,” the MSF will have the usual focus on agriculture, but with new ways of honoring those involved with the industry.
“We’ll have the Thank a Farmer display this year,” said fair Director Mark Wolfe. “We had it a couple years ago for the 110th celebration, we had a display board outside the admin building. We’re using the same set up but it will be all about photos from family farms all over the state of Missouri. We’re really encouraging folks if you’re not involved in ag to go to Thank a Farmer. In a neat way it puts the emphasis on those people doing it day in and day out, so people can recognize them and thank them for what they do.”
This year’s fair will also include an emphasis on youth in agriculture. The last Saturday of the fair typically involves the Sale of Champions, but this year Saturday, Aug. 16 will also be themed Youth in Ag Day. All kids 12 and under will receive free gate admission and there will be special activities for kids, including games in the Highway Gardens and two new contests.
“The biggest thing that’s different this year is that the second Saturday is celebrate Youth in Ag Day,” Wolfe said. “It’s in conjunction with Youth in Ag Day because of the Sale of Champions, but there’s a lot more emphasis on kids in general. Kids 12 and under get in free. There are several contests – a poster contest and a largest tomato contest, all in the Highway Gardens area, which is geared toward kids throughout the day. It culminates with the sale of champions.”
After the popularity of last year’s fair theme, Celebrate Women in Agriculture Day will return for the second year on Thursday, Aug. 14, and all women receive free gate admission. There will again be a pictorial exhibit of women involved in agriculture, on display throughout the fair on the lawn of the Women’s Building.
Special activities include the Missouri First Lady’s Pie Contest at 10 a.m. in the Home Economics Building, and the Missouri Travel Council’s trade show, A Celebration of Women, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Lowell Mohler Assembly Hall. Several prizes will be given away during the event, and a free Missouri craft beer and wine tasting event will start at 4 p.m. A wristband for the tasting will be available starting at 11 a.m. at the trade show, while supplies last.
“Theme days have gotten big over the last five years,” Wolfe said. “The first Sunday is Military Appreciation Day. There’s free admission to active military and veterans, and their family gets in for $1 each. There’s a tremendous ceremony each year at 2 p.m. in the Mathewson honoring them. It’s a big day and a lot of fun, draws a lot of big crowds.
“Historically the first Monday is a big day. It’s Farm Family Day, sponsored by Farm Bureau, and it honors a farm family in each county.”
While there are events to coordinate with each day’s theme, the daily schedules are filled with additional free entertainment. The Kids Stage includes songs and comedy geared toward the fair’s smaller attendees, while the Ditzfeld Stage will host the popular Sweeney Family Band County Comedy Review and a new martial arts show. Returning favorites include the Amazing Anastasini Circus, pig races, the petting zoo, antique tractor pulls, and jousting.
“I encourage folks when you come to the fair, people are money conscious and want the best bang for their buck, and the fair is really economical, to take advantage of the free entertainment,” Wolfe said. “There’s $275,000 worth of free entertainment. All the days of the fair you can hear songs as you move around and follow the sound. A good act coming in, if they saw Shenanigans Wild West Show a few years ago, they have a new show, the SwashChuckler’s Comedy Pirate Show. They were awesome before and you could hardly get a seat, so we’re looking forward to seeing them come back.
“It’s a good opportunity to see high quality, free entertainment for just the cost of admission. Overall I think the best part of the fair is getting around to see livestock shows, seeing kids exhibit is fun.”
Wolfe encouraged attendees to visit mostatefair.com before heading out to the fairgrounds to plan out their day with daily schedules and a map of the fairgrounds, which is also available once at the fair.
Admission gates are open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, and Gate 6 will be a 24-hour gate. Admission in advance is $6, or $8 at the gate. Admission for kids ages 6 to 12 is $2 and kids 5 and under are free. Cost for seniors (age 60 and over) is $6. Admission is $5 after 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Parking is free.
The Missouri State Fair will be hosted Aug. 7-17 in Sedalia. For more information, visit mostatefair.com, follow the Fair on Facebook and Twitter, or call 1-800-422-FAIR (3247).