Tours offer education, history of fairground buildings

August 10, 2012

Fairgoers have an opportunity to mix some history and education in with their fun during this year’s Missouri State Fair.

Walking tours highlighting the fairgrounds’ historic buildings are being offered, and those participating in the guided tours receive a voucher for a free booklet that provides a deeper look at the fair’s past. The heavy-stock booklets were sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

There are five separate tours, and different tours are offered on different days. Each tour takes about 20 minutes to complete.

The tours are led by former fair marketing department interns Danielle Myers and Greg Loeffler. The pair provide data about when the buildings were constructed, how the structures were named and “fun facts” about the buildings or the fair itself.

During Thursday’s morning tour starting at the Historic Administration Building, Myers shared that the Farm Bureau Building, constructed in 1970 and renovated in 2010, is her favorite because of the 25-cent cups of chocolate milk served there.

Loeffler, a University of Missouri-Columbia senior, talked about the Coliseum and asked if the group knew how many presidents had spoken there (four) and who they were (William Howard Taft, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush).

Myers said she learned most of the background information during her time as an intern. Loeffler said he reviewed the notecards they work from, as well as studying the commemorative history book that was published for the fair’s centennial.

Catrina Livergood, of Jefferson City, took Tour 2, which starts at the Gerken Dairy Center, Thursday afternoon.

“I’m not a historian,” the former teacher said, “but I enjoy learning and I just like knowing this.”

Livergood started coming to the fair 10 or 15 years ago, and admits sheknows little about its history.

“I’m glad they have something special about its infrastructure now,” she said.

Myer, who grew up in the area and has been attending the fair her whole life, said, “You appreciate the fair more when you know the history of it.”