Heat doesn’t burn enthusiasm for first day of Missouri State Fair


SEDALIA, MO. – Despite the heat, the fair must go on. For 119 years people have been coming to Sedalia for the Missouri State Fair. 

Whether it’s the corndog, the lemonade shake-up, attending a concert, or competing in a livestock show, the heat didn’t scare anyone off Thursday. 

“Man, it’s fun to be back doing this again,” Director of the Missouri State Fair Mark Wolfe said. “That’s the longest two years I’ve ever spent, I think.”

On a hot summer day in Missouri, when even the cows needed a cool day, the 119th Missouri State Fair officially kicked off. 

“It feels like you’re in an oven when you’re out here,” nine-year-old Kayleigh said while fanning herself. 

Kayleigh is from Lee’s Summit and traveled to Sedalia with her grandparents. She said she regularly visits the fair. 

“I have been to the fair before but not this year because it’s the first day of the fair,” Kayleigh said. “We’ve seen goats, sheep, and chickens.”

Last year, the fair took a different route with no concerts, grandstand events, or carnival, just a youth livestock show.

“We’re just glad to see a carnival back on the grounds and get to listen to some great music in the grandstands,” Wolfe said. 

The opening ceremony was kicked off by the Marshall Municipal Band playing patriotic songs while honoring veterans in attendance. 

“I feel like this, it’s just good to see people out again,” Gov. Mike Parson said. “It’s good to see everyday people doing what they live to do. Seeing these kids here showing their cattle.”

Compared to last year, the fair is back in full force. 

“We are so proud of the fact that we are an ag-based fair,” Wolfe said. “Agriculture is Missouri’s largest industry, $88 plus billion-dollar-a-year industry.”

Wolfe went on to say agriculture employees 400,000 Missourians with more than 100,000 farms in the Show-Me state and 96% of them are family-owned. 

Vendors are also glad to be back this year. Bob Brown and his wife own “Oh Fudge.” 

“I started making fudge when I was 14 years old for my grandfather in northern Michigan, Mackinac Island area,” Brown said. “I’ve been doing it here in Missouri now since 2001.”

Originally the Browns opened up a Carthage, but later closed it to travel to festivals. 

“We’ve been at the fair since 2007,” Brown said. “It’s a good day, there’s a lot of people around, it’s good to see people back.”

Brown said he was ready for 2020 until it took a different route due to COVID. 

“We already had them [materials] ordered and pretty much set up, ready to go because we have to do that well in advance,” Brown said. “We called our suppliers and they worked with us to find other places for those to go.”

With more than 300,000 people are expected to attend, officials plan to push COVID safety and vaccination.

“Enjoying all the things we enjoy at the state fair and how important that is because we have to get back to life the way we know it,” Parson said. 

While fairgoers will still be able to eat a corndog and compete or attend a livestock show, Wolfe said he also wants to remind people to take personal responsibility.

The 119th fair will also offer vaccinations for anyone who is interested at Mathewson Exhibition Center daily starting Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 22, from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.

The fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 22. Admission is $12 for adults, seniors ages 60 and older are $8, kids ages 6 to 12 are $3 and ages 5 and younger are free.

Visit the state fair’s website for the daily list of events.

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