The Missouri State Fair means many things to many people.
For many rural youth it is the culmination of months of hard work as they bring their prize livestock to the fairgrounds in search of blue ribbons and a spot in the Sale of Champions.
Others come for the music, or the carnival rides, or a chance to sample corn dogs and funnel cake and fried Oreos.
Throughout the fair you may often hear people celebrate our annual gathering as the state’s “premier agricultural showcase,” and surely the true heart of the fair rests in its celebration of farm life, rural values and the hard work and determination it takes to support and sustain this vital part of our state and national economies.
While the fair draws crowds from Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia and Springfield, we would like to see a greater degree of outreach to our city cousins and a greater focus on trying to find ways to build politically and economically viable bridges between all Missourians.
Missouri politics remain dominated by the city/rural divide. This divide is evidenced each election cycle and each time the Missouri General Assembly meets in Jefferson City. It was on prominent display during the Aug. 5 primary in the razor-thin margin of victory for Amendment 1.
Much of the fears raised by “right-to-farm” supporters seemed based around the lack of understanding or appreciation city folk have for just what exactly goes into growing our crops, raising our livestock and keeping the grocery stores stocked.
Here in Sedalia each August we host an event tailor made to help bridge that gap. The fair is the single greatest asset we possess in the state to try and get deep red rural folks and bright blue urban and suburbanites and everyone inbetween to come together in an attempt to find a commonality of purpose that is woefully lacking in this state.
We urge elected officials, policymakers and common folks from all stripes to take the opportunity presented at this year’s fair to ask questions, share concerns and encourage meaningful dialogue between all who attend. Our house has been divided for far too long and the sights and sounds of the fair are an excellent place to set aside old grievances and misconceptions and start looking at one another as, first and foremost, fellow Missourians.