Nearly 357,000 people visited the 2016 Missouri State Fair — an increase of more than 4,000 fairgoers from last year.
“For more than 100 years, the Missouri State Fair has been the state’s premier agricultural showcase, and once again Fair Director Wolfe and Agricultural Director Fordyce put on a great event, bringing hundreds of thousands of fairgoers to Sedalia to see the best that Missouri farmers have to offer,” said Gov. Jay Nixon. “Across the country, many state fairs have moved away from their agricultural roots. But here in Missouri, we’ve stuck by our No. 1 industry, and the results have been outstanding. I appreciate everyone who helped make the 2016 Missouri State Fair a tremendous success.”
“I am extremely pleased with attendance this year,” said Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe. “We had a great fair, and I’m proud that so many Missourians continue to see the state fair as a destination for their families each August. Statistics from fairgoer surveys indicate that more than 65 percent of state fair guests attend the fair because it is a tradition for their family.”
This year, the fair saw more than 30,000 livestock and competitive entries and involved more than 3,200 Missouri 4-H and FFA youth participants, according to Missouri Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce.
“The state fair provides opportunities for agriculturalists of all ages to shine and tell the story of Missouri agriculture,” Fordyce said. “It’s a chance to see young people in agriculture grow in the industry and gain leadership experience.”
Mild weather, an outstanding agriculture showcase, family-friendly attractions, special events and more helped contribute to the success of this year’s event. The carnival midway experienced four days of record sales, and special celebrations and commemorative activities held during the fair attracted diverse crowds.
More than 100 Boys and Girls Club youth attended the fair on Opening Day, participating in the opening day ceremony in front of the Agriculture Building, and then enjoyed a busy day of entertainment on the fairgrounds. The opening day parade included more than 100 units in a procession along Missouri State Fair Boulevard.
Military Appreciation Day was celebrated Aug. 14 and attracted record-breaking front-gate sales with more than 43,000 people on the fairgrounds, including military men and women and their families. The Military Appreciation Ceremony was the highlight of the day, and featured inspiring music from the 135th Army Band, hundreds of motorcyclists representing the Patriot Guard Riders, and remarks from military leaders.
Nixon addressed the sold-out crowd at the 64th Governor’s Ham Breakfast on Aug. 18. The auction of the grand and reserve champion hams, grand champion bacon, limited-edition belt buckle and a new item — a homemade pie baked by First Lady Georganne Nixon — raised $27,600 in support of the Missouri State Fair Foundation for projects, including youth scholarships and fairgrounds improvements.
Saturday, Aug. 20, was Youth in Agriculture Day. The sale of champions auction set a record of $157,350, with proceeds from the sale benefiting the exhibitors and Youth in Agriculture scholarships. Lady Antebellum with opener Kelsea Ballerini took the Pepsi Grandstand stage that evening in the highest attended concert of 2016.
The 2016 fair featured new attractions that were well-received by fairgoers and exhibitors. A new video series, “the Crop Up Cam,” offered fairgoers an insider’s view of what was “cropping up” at the 2016 fair. The videos are available to view on the fair’s YouTube channel. Missouri 4-H and FFA youth read their favorite agriculture story books to young fairgoers during Barnyard Story Time daily on the Kids Stage. A team of University of Missouri agriculture students took first place in the new Can Creation Contest on Food Drive Day. Fairgoers learned some history about the fair and fairgrounds in the new Throwback Thursday Scavenger Hunt. The highly anticipated eight-Horse Hitch class in the Draft Horse Hitches Show drew a nice crowd to the Mathewson Exhibition Center on the fair’s finale day, Aug. 21.
The Missouri State Fair has been recognized as one of the premier agriculture showcases in the world by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) and as a top summer destination, highlighting the best of the best in Missouri agriculture, cuisine, crafts and more.
The 2017 state fair is set for Aug. 10-20 in Sedalia. For more information, visit www.mostatefair.com or call 800-422-FAIR (3247).