I deeply, passionately, unironically love the Missouri State Fair.
Despite the insane, angry traffic, and the blistering heat, and the clouds of allergens that give me a sinus infection every year, and the spendy midway rides and snacks, and wait, where was I going with this?
Ah. Yes. I love the Fair.
You cynics might say it’s how you can tell that I’m not native to Sedalia. Because instead of hunkering down in my house or taking a vacation to the Lake, I am strapping on my comfy-ugly shoes and headed for the fairgrounds. At least twice, maybe more than that if I’ve got free admission tickets. I have concerts to see, animals to pet, food to eat, exhibits to take in.
If you’re jaded, or if the Fair makes you grouchy, let me help you look at it with fresh eyes:
They have honey ice cream. And a native plant sale! And absolutely gorgeous chickens! And a contest for who crochets the fastest, and the baby changing and feeding area is probably the best in the state and lemonade shakeups and pork burgers and live music and ohmygosh I just love it. I love it so much I wrote it a sonnet. My apologies to Shakespeare.
“Shall I compare thee to a State Fair day?
Thou art sweatier and oft at the Bud Tent.
Rough winds do shake the golden piles of hay
And this year’s fair hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the metal seats doth shine,
And often is our good complexion burned;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or by good concerts not returned;
But thy eternal face paint shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall thou rest with mist fan in the shade,
When the eternal lines for Beef House grow’st.
So long as butter cow hath creamery,
So lives the Fair, and this gives life to thee.”
Are you not convinced?
Ok, those are just some of my favorite things at the Fair. But the deeper, bigger picture is something you should all be proud of.
Our society tries hard to make everything urban. But the Fair is unapologetically countrified. Our society worships the coasts, but the Fair is wholly Midwestern. Our society is ever more industrial, and little by little we forget how much of our existence we owe to our family farmers and ranchers, conservationists, craftspeople and small businesses.
The Fair reminds us.
We get more and more separated from our machinery, our food, our community, even our neighbors.
The Fair brings us back into their presence.
Attending a state fair is one of the quintessential American experiences, on par with visiting Mount Rushmore or seeing the Statue of Liberty. To have it here, in your county, in your town, is a privilege. Every other place in Missouri, this weekend is just part of August. But here, it’s the finale of an amazing production that takes a year to plan and the cooperation of human, animal, plant and machine to achieve.
So If you don’t like the Fair, that’s fair. But take it from someone who hasn’t always lived here. You’ve got a good thing goin’ on.