Lonnie Purnell, of Kansas City, Kansas, with his fiancée Susan Schroeder pulls his granddaughter, Ava, 2, along in a cozy wagon Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at the Missouri State Fair. Purnell said this was Ava’s first time to visit the Fair.

In 41 days, Sedalia is set to host the Missouri State Fair from Aug. 13 to 23. For most attendees it will be unlike any other fair due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the focus will remain as it always has on livestock and youth exhibits in agriculture, a number of changes have been made.

“The decision to move forward with the 2020 Missouri State Fair was made by the Governor’s Office,” according to Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe. “The State Fair staff and Commission are working through logistical changes based on additional cleaning protocols and changes to the Fair programming.”

One of the biggest changes is the cancellation of all Grandstand concerts.

“At the time the decision was made to cancel the Grandstand concerts it was our understanding that social distancing would still be in place during the Fair dates in August and that we were most likely looking at only hosting livestock events,” Marketing Director Kari Mergen explained. “In an effort of good faith, it was decided to cancel the concerts so as to give the entertainers the best opportunity to find other options.  

“At this time, the Department of Health and Senior Services indicates they will not be adding any additional restrictions for the 2020 Missouri State Fair,” Mergen continued. “They encourage situational awareness, increased hand washing or sanitizing, and mask wearing if fairgoers choose.”

Mergen added social distancing and occupancy limits are not required for the 2020 fair, but are subject to change at the request of DHSS.

“Additional hand washing and sanitizing stations are being added across the grounds,” Mergen explained. “Our disinfecting efforts will be increased and our janitorial staff will be purposeful in their cleaning efforts as recommended by the CDC.”

There are a number of special price admission days scheduled but advance admission tickets will not be offered in 2020. Admission prices are Single Day Adult: $11; Seniors (age 60 & over): $7; Youth (ages 6-12): $3; Kids (age 5 and under): no admission charged. Parking is free. 

While many events have been canceled, fairgoers will find a number of familiar free entertainment performances as well as new acts, according to Mergen.

Free entertainment will be spread across the grounds again this year including acts on the Kids Stage, the Touchstone Energy Stage and Budweiser Stage. Other acts include the return of the Sea Lion Splash Show, Rock-it Robot, Hotel California, and Professor Farquar and Polecat Annie. New acts include Scott’s World of Magic Show, Flyin’ Hawaiian, Puppies of Penzance and more.  

The carnival will be back as will the Opening Day Parade, Opening Day Ceremonies, the MSF Queen Competition, Governor’s Ham Breakfast, Homegrown Singer Contest and the Sale of Champions, although many of the events will have different formats from previous fairs.

The buildings are all scheduled to be open every day at the fair. Most exhibit buildings are open to the public as follows, according to the MSF website:

Aug 13-15: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Aug 16-20: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Aug 21-22: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Aug 23: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Gates open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

According to the MSF website, the State Fair Arena will host the rodeo, bull riding and demolition derby events. The Grandstand will host all truck and tractor pulls and auto races this year.

The following events and attractions have been canceled:

• The Butter Cow will not be displayed at the Gerken Dairy Center.

• Events at the Ditzfeld Stage.

• The Exceptional Rodeo.

• The Missouri Jaycee Access Day.

• Missouri Travel Alliance Tourism Trade Show and Senior Dance and Activities in the Mathewson Exhibition center have all been canceled. 

• The Military Flag Retreat Ceremony that began in 2019 will not occur this year although other military recognitions are being planned for 2020.

• The MoDOT Building and the Missouri Country Bistro will not be open. 

• A number of livestock shows and competitive exhibitions have also been canceled. These cancellations are listed on the MSF website.

Gov. Mike Parson announced on June 10 during his COVID-19 briefing the Missouri State Fair will occur this summer in Sedalia, commenting at the time as an agricultural governor, “the fair won’t be canceled during my watch.”

In the more than 100-year history of the fair, the event has only been canceled once during World War II.

Numerous state fairs have been canceled across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic including Iowa, Wisconsin, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, North Dakota, Oregon, California and Alaska.

Missouri State Fair Commissioners met June 25 to approve a number of details. As more details are finalized they will be broadcast through the MSF website, social media pages and media partners.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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