Missouri is moving its state FFA convention from its usual Columbia location to the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia this year, as organizers work to provide an in-person event.
The 93rd Missouri FFA Convention is scheduled for April 30 and May 1 at the Mathewson Exhibition Center in Sedalia, part of the fairgrounds.
A Missouri FFA Association release said the organization wanted to hold an in-person event while also being “responsible with the current COVID-19-related health concerns,” and ultimately decided the facility at Sedalia was the best place to do that.
“Our desire to hold an in-person event for our award winners has been the overarching goal in our decision to modify our normal convention location and protocol,” Missouri FFA state advisor Leon Busdieker said in the release. “FFA is hands-on. It’s a four-year program, and we think this year’s plan is the best way to recognize our students for their accomplishments while still being mindful of health-related concerns.”
The recognition-only event will be limited to award winners and two advisors or chaperones per school. The event will also feature guest speakers, such as Missouri native and national FFA officer Paxton Dahmer. The convention will be livestreamed to people who cannot attend. Families of the state officers can also attend.
Courtney Fry, with the Missouri State Fair, says the fair is happy to provide a location for the convention.
“It’s super exciting,” she says. “It’s a great opportunity for us to once again partner with FFA. They’re a great partner with us during the fair.”
Fry says there was some concern about whether Missouri FFA would be able to hold its convention at the University of Missouri’s Hearnes Center, like usual, as the pandemic unfolded. The state fairgrounds offered its facilities as an option.
Even with a different setup, Fry says what’s important is that the students will get recognition for their work.
“It’s going to have all the pomp and circumstance,” she says, “and still giving recognition to these kids for their accomplishment, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.”
Last year’s convention was all virtual, and organizers say they hope to be able to return to Columbia for the state convention in 2022. Keith Dietzschold, executive secretary for Missouri FFA, says the goal is to hold attendance in the 30-40% or less range at the Mathewson Center.