Missouri State Fair

Organizers plan to hold the Missouri State Fair as scheduled in August, although there will likely be some adjustments and precautions taken to guard against the coronavirus. 

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the tradition of heading to Sedalia for the state fair will continue.

The Missouri State Fair will be held as scheduled Aug. 13-23, Gov. Mike Parson and the State Fair Commission announced June 11.

Parson said the Missouri State Fair had only been canceled once in the last 100 years, during World War II, and “as an ag governor” he did not want the second time to be “on my watch.”

“The fair will look differently than previous years, but the mission of our fair remains the same — showcase Missouri agriculture and promote youth in agriculture,” Parson said. “We are still evaluating many of our traditional fair activities and working with the Missouri State Fair Commission to finalize details.”

Some states have canceled their state fairs, including Iowa, but the Missouri State Fair said in a statement it plans to continue their tradition while continuing to work on details to protect public health.

“The Missouri State Fair will be held as scheduled August 13-23, 2020,” the fair’s statement said. “However, the fair will look differently than previous years. The mission of our fair has always been to showcase Missouri agriculture, so our livestock shows will continue to honor that tradition. Details for our vendors, sponsors, and other partners are still being determined.”

Some of the possible adjustments could include shortened hours and fewer vendors.

Across Missouri, many county and local fairs have been canceled, rescheduled or seen other modifications to planned activities in response to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“Our hearts broke as we watched COVID-19 cancel fairs, festivals and expositions around the world,” the state fair said in its statement. “We know the countless hours our exhibitors and Fair families have put in to taking care of their livestock and 4-H and FFA projects. Our priority continues to be the promotion of excellence in Missouri agriculture and our future agriculture leaders.”

The fair plans to announce more details as the commission makes final decisions about fair activities and precautions.

“We know you will have a lot of questions moving forward. Our plan is to evaluate the many details of our traditional Fair and place those considerations in front of our governing body, the Missouri State Fair Commission,” the state fair statement said. “As we have more details, we will broadcast that through our website, social media pages and media partners.”

The Nodaway County Fair in Maryville, scheduled for July, canceled March 18, and several other local fairs made that decision as well. Many of the canceled fairs spoke about the difficulty of the decision and cited the concern for public health, including the Cass County Fair, which announced in early May on its Facebook page that the fair was off.

“It is with great sadness we announce that the 2020 Cass County Fair has been cancelled,” the fair post said. “This tough decision was not taken lightly, but with all the unknowns due to COVID-19, the safety of our community, volunteers, staff and exhibitors is the utmost priority. We will see you in July 2021 stronger than ever! Meanwhile, stay safe and stay healthy.”

The St. Charles County Fair announced June 9 it was cancelling its fair planned for this summer.

“Over the last several weeks, we have been brainstorming on a daily basis to try and bring you a fair despite the many uncertainties in our area due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the St. Charles County Fair said in a statement. “We do not feel it is feasible to follow the CDC guidelines close enough as they pertain to social distancing, wearing of protective coverings and decontaminating surfaces used by the several thousand of our fair patrons.”

Other fairs have gone forward with amended plans or reduced activities. The North Central Missouri Fair in Trenton was canceled due to the virus, but the fair announced it still plans to hold livestock and animal shows.

Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.