Thanks to many nonprofits and families, the Charolais Barn on the Missouri State Fairgrounds received a facelift this year.
According to Missouri State Fair Foundation Director Wendy Faulconer, the facility was previously used for storing equipment and the dirt used on the Mathewson Exhibition Center floor during the Missouri State Fair, along with housing Charolais cattle for livestock shows. She said the barn was sustaining damage from moving dirt and equipment, so the Foundation spent $90,000 to construct a hoop barn near the Pepsi Grandstand to use instead. That project began in January and was followed by repairing, cleaning and repainting metal on the Charolais Barn. Concrete work was also done outside the barn to incorporate the new Legacy Wall that honors the late Jerry Litton, an “innovator” for the Charolais breed, according to Dave Johansen, a member of the Missouri Charolais Breeders Association that helped with the project.
The barn project was paid for by the State Fair Foundation, the Charolais Association, the Jerry Litton Foundation, and exhibitors and their families. Johansen said roughly half of the project was paid for by families who made small donations or purchased bricks in the Legacy Wall. Funds from the bricks went toward the barn renovations.
Faulconer said through her job, she’s learned how important the state fair is to so many Missouri families and the Charolais Barn project’s grassroots funding efforts are just one example.
“I think that’s what’s the most powerful part is that people are passionate about what happens here and they are willing to step up and get involved and want to make things better,” Faulconer told the Democrat after the rededication ceremony Saturday afternoon. “This is a second home for a lot of people, they’ve been coming here for generations.”
Jeannine Doughty, president of the Missouri Charolais Breeders Association, agreed with Faulconer. She said exhibitors’ families purchasing a brick shows their support for the breed and the fairgrounds.
According to Doughty, the association decided it was time to update the barn to offer a cleaner, upgraded appearance for fairgoers and breeders. She said she’s proud it’s now a feature on the fairgrounds.
“There’s a lot of family history in the barn for a lot of the kids. People that show now have shown in this barn or their parents have shown in this barn,” she said. “We’re a pretty tight-knit group of people and we treat each other like family. We come here and show off the great cattle we have, and we like to hang out with each other and have fun. It’s an event I think everyone looks forward to every summer.”
According to Doughty, the Missouri State Fair is the largest state fair for Charolais breeders in the country. She said it’s a showcase for the breed and is a highly competitive event with high-quality livestock and exhibitors each year.
Johansen attended his first Missouri State Fair as a baby and has only missed two years since. He grew up on a farm and has raised Charolais for 32 years with his family, including working as an agricultural banker for 45 years. He said all of his kids showed Charolais at either the state or national level and he has been involved with the Charolais Association for a long time.
Doughty has a similar story. She has been involved with raising and showing Charolais since she was a kid — she also attended her first Missouri State Fair when she was a baby and hasn’t missed one since. She said her mother got the family started in raising Charolais cattle and the family hit the ground running with it.
“She passed away unexpectedly several years ago so I’ve enjoyed trying to keep the legacy going for her,” Doughty said. “I know a lot of people here, those who remember her respected her a lot and it’s important to me to keep the Charolais going for her too.”