Although rain came early, it dissipated in time for the 112th Missouri State Fair Opening Ceremony Thursday morning.
MSF Director Mark Wolfe said he was glad to see the rain leave and was happy with the cool weather for the first day.
“The humidity is gone and it kind of washed everything down last night,” he added. “We need the rain so we’re happy to get it.”
The ceremony was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and prayer. Also recognized were 100 Boys & Girls Club members from West Central Missouri and the Greater Kansas City area.
The Missouri State Fair along with McCarthy Toyota, of Sedalia, sponsored the club members for a free day at the fair, said Emily Jarrett, communication coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri. The club members were able to participate in the Opening Ceremony, play at the Family Fun Center, eat at the Beef House and ride rides at the carnival.
“Some of the kids had never been to the fair,” she added. “Everything is free for our kids and some of the kids may have never gotten to experience the carnival before.”
Wolfe said the MSF is an agricultural fair and promoting youth in ag is a highlight this year.
“And everything we do around here is geared toward promoting agriculture,” he said. “And obviously the youth side is big and so we’re real excited about the Boys & Girls Clubs from Kansas City and Sedalia being here. A lot of things we are doing at the fair this year is geared toward the kids specifically, the younger kids even. So that’s kind of new and different. There’s always been a lot of fun things to do at the fair for kids, but this year we’re putting a focus on it.”
Wolfe opened the ceremony by thanking the Marshall Municipal Band, which played before the event, and acknowledging dignitaries present including Sedalia Mayor Stephen Galliher, State Sen. Mike Parson and State Rep. Stanley Cox and Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce.
He also recognized youth in agriculture.
“This year, even more than usual, we’re going to celebrate our young people at the state fair,” he said. “Our youth represent our future, the success of our Missouri State Fair and Missouri’s agricultural industry. One day we will be dependant upon them as our leaders.”
He added that the Missouri State Fair wanted to offer experiences for them to help “foster” their integrity and positive growth while having fun and a good time at the fair.
“We want to reward their hard work which will encourage them to strive for excellence and drive them to achieve their life goals,” he added.
Wolfe said they would have about 30,000 entries in MSF livestock shows and competitive exhibits this year.
“Each and every young man and young lady involved in the year’s Missouri State Fair will be counted a winner,” he added. “Whether they take home a ribbon or not, each will be taking home important life lessons that only can be acquired at our state’s No. 1 agriculture showcase.”
Wolfe introduced Fordyce, who said as a child he helped his father on the family farm in Bethany, located only 18 miles from the Iowa border. Every year they chose to come to the Missouri State Fair although they were closer to the Iowa State Fair.
“Throughout my life I’ve probably attended the fair well over 40 different times,” he said. “Over 40 years, something we enjoyed every year we were here. It was truly an adventure to come to the state fair.”
Fordyce said the fair this year will be a little different since he is serving as director.
“I’m going to do my very best to harvest the fun here at the Missouri State Fair,” he said. “As we work to help grow opportunities for our farm families and our farmers and our agriculture business here. That’s what the Missouri State Fair is all about — opportunities for Missouri agriculture to shine.”
He added that “a shinning example” of “reaping what you sow” can be seen in our youth in agriculture.
Numerous youth will be participating this year with some showing for the first time and others showing for years. He said these youth will leave the fair with added confidence, speaking skills and an excellent work ethic.
“Win or lose, no one leaves the fair empty handed,” he added. “Each of these young people will learn something that they will carry with them into the future.”
He added that agriculture in Missouri is the state’s “biggest economic driver” and the fair highlights that each year.
“The Missouri State Fair is a well oiled machine comprised of hundreds of employees and volunteers,” he said.
After the event Fordyce told the Democrat during his time as director he plans to make sure agriculture is still top priority at the Missouri State Fair.
“We talk to folks in other states, and some of them have told us that agricultural emphasis has diminished,” he said. “So it’s going to be our No. 1 goal to show agriculture as the No. 1 event. It’s the state’s agricultural showcase and we’re going to maintain that and continue to put more emphasis on that. We are a showcase for agriculture.”