SEDALIA, Mo. – The Missouri State Fair opens Thursday in Sedalia with some big restrictions due to COVID-19.
This is the first time the fair has made any major changes since 1943, when the fair was canceled due to World War II. This year there are no concerts, grandstand events or carnival, instead youth and their livestock are being showcased.
Gov. Parson, Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn and the state fair director Mark Wolfe held a press conference Thursday to talk about the struggles the fair has faced due to the pandemic.
“During COVID-19, we faced many challenges as a state and we worked very hard to make the state fair a success,” Chinn said. “This year’s Missouri State Fair looks a little bit different but we went back to the basics and we are foxing on what is important and that is agriculture, but most importantly our youth in agriculture.”
Wolfe said entry numbers are better this year, than years past.
“Our entry numbers this year are outstanding,” Wolfe said. “I think we are about 500 up over last year during a normal fair. The first fair was held here in 1901 and it’s one of the most historic fairgrounds in the nation.”
Missouri is one of the few Midwestern states that followed through with its fair during the pandemic. Parson said he couldn’t think of canceling it.
“I didn’t want it to be under my watch that it was the second one to be canceled because I know the people in this state can take personal responsibility and can handle the situation in front of us and we can still move forward with this,” Parson said.
Kinlea Keith, 9, of Sedalia, has been coming to the fair since she can remember. Her grandpa is the management of the campgrounds.
“I was excited to see lots of the animals cause the sheep, I like to see which one wins,” Keith said. “Each year I always get a lemonade and if the fair was cancelled I wouldn’t get to get a lemonade.”
Keith said this might be the best year yet because there is no carnival.
“It’s probably one of the best year because I don’t get to go on the rides and I don’t get to get sick,” Keith said.
As for social distancing and wearing masks, Parson said people can make their own decisions.
“People have that ability to make those choices, is what I said here earlier, you know and I think they have to make that,” Parson said. “They understand what the risks are for their families, their children and you have to understand that they have to have that personal responsibility.”
During the press conference, Our Missouri Chief Capitol Bureau Reporter asked the governor about his thoughts the special session and the House separating each provision into its own bill.
“It’s disappointing because the homicides rates in the state are climbing and everyday we are delaying, more people are losing their lives,” Parson said.
“And I think whether you’re in Kansas City or St. Louis, when you see almost 280 people die in those two environments just this year. What I think is disappointing is I know how bad law enforcement wants these issues to be done. It passed 27-3 out of the Senate. I don’t know why we are taking so long to do this.”
All events have been canceled except for the youth livestock shows. It runs through Sunday, August 23. It is free and open to the public.