Jul 31, 2023

Missouri State Fair continues work improving grounds

The Missouri State Fair is Aug. 10-20 in Sedalia. It remains a celebration of agriculture in this state, and features a wide variety of entertainment and events.

The Missouri State Fair theme, “Where Traditions Grow,” celebrates the long history of the fair, with generation after generation coming to Sedalia in August to embrace agriculture, food and entertainment.

“This is the 121st Missouri State Fair. It’s been around a long time,” fair director Mark Wolfe says.

This year’s fair is scheduled for Aug. 10-20 at the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia.

He says the fair began in 1901 as an agricultural expo, and it has stayed true to those roots, in particular emphasizing the efforts of youth in agriculture.

“We’re all about Missouri agriculture,” Wolfe says. “A lot of our emphasis is on the youth and FFA and 4-H, and what they do at the fair.”

The fair evokes timeless memories, endless summer days and nights in the Coliseum, the Swine Pavilion, the 4-H building, or any of the other structures more than a century old that make going to the fair feel like going back home.

Even as the fairgrounds retain the classic look and feel, Wolfe says work to improve the grounds continues. He says the fair hopes to break ground on a new $55 million arena, which will allow new space for events and provide a climate-controlled setting. He says it will be a two-year process building the arena.

Wolfe says the fair grandstand, swine building, cattle barns and 4-H building will all be getting some renovations and refurbishment, and he thanked Gov. Mike Parson and the state legislature for making sure money for the state fair and its improvement projects has been in recent budgets.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” he says.

The fair also acquired 200 acres immediately west of the fairgrounds last year, which Wolfe says was the fair’s last chance to buy adjoining land before becoming landlocked by development around the grounds. He says there will be several potential uses for the new land, including more camping spots, which remain in high demand.

“The first thing we’re going to do is add 600 new campsites,” Wolfe says.

In addition to the new facilities and renovations on the grounds, the fair works to bring in new entertainment each year, and Wolfe says there are some new animal breed shows, especially for rabbits and poultry.

Many familiar traditions continue at the fair, including the popular food drive, as well as the “Hogs for Hunger” event where youth at the fair can donate their market hogs to help feed the hungry and receive a stipend for it. Wolfe says FFA and 4-H students will also be packing up meals at the fair.

“Their goal is to pack 160,000 prepackaged meals that’ll be donated to Missouri food banks,” he says.

The fair has a variety of theme and ticket discount days. Wolfe says people can go to the fair website at to see the daily schedule and available deals.

Last year 340,000 people, more than 15 times the population of host city Sedalia, attended the fair. There were 25,846 entries in the fair.

Wolfe says people enjoy coming to see what’s new and support youth exhibitors, and the fair is an affordable vacation option for families.

“Obviously this is a very agricultural state,” he says. “People are supportive of agriculture, and understand the importance of agriculture. It’s Missouri’s largest ag expo every year.”

For Wolfe, this is the end of an era, as he will retire as director at the end of the fair. He has worked for the Missouri State Fair for over 19 years, and this is his 15th fair as director. He says he has retirement plans with his wife, and he felt like the time was right to pass the torch.

“The fair’s in really good shape,” Wolfe says. “It’s a good time to turn it over to someone else. We’re not going too far — we’ll be regular fairgoers in the future.”

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