Congratulations Sedalia, we survived another year of Missouri State Fair. I am a fan of the fair, but also I am happy it is in the books for another year.
The fair can be an exhausting ordeal for everyone. I did notice this year that I saw a lot more complaining on social media and in person about a myriad of fair-related topics. The effect of a lot of these issues people discussed was a seemingly stark and drastic drop in fair attendance in 2019.
A lot of people said it was because the admission cost is too high to get in and food is too expensive; other people talked about the Grandstand line up being lackluster. But, what I noticed is that no one mentioned in the uniquely devastating situation that separates 2019 from any other previous fair.
I moved to Sedalia in 1994 and even as a small child, I was confused that no one in Sedalia had any knowledge or seemed to care about the flood of 1993 that crippled a huge swatch of Northern and Eastern Missouri and literally changed the landscape forever. Not only that, but it caused billions of dollars in damage and income loss because if fields are underwater, you cannot plant crops. Without crops, a lot of farmers don’t make any money.
The flooding this year has been just as damaging, if not more damaging than the floods of 1993. In fact, as of the writing of this column, there are still dozens of highways and roads in Missouri that are underwater due to flooding that started in May. Millions of dollars of crop income has been lost. When you drive through the countryside of Northern Missouri, Eastern Missouri or even the Joplin area, instead of seeing corn the height of a human you are seeing sad, stubby little corn or just barren and waterlogged fields.
With a massive loss of income, it makes going on trips and vacations extremely hard. And the Missouri State Fair, for a lot of farmers, is their vacation destination. I applaud the Missouri State Fair for getting rid of late entry fees for exhibitors. I talked to several livestock people who took advantage of this as roads reopened closer to the fair.
I have no idea what the percentage is, but I know farmers and agriculture professionals from all over the state love coming to the Missouri State Fair every year. It is a time to catch up with friends, talk to different agencies, see the new equipment and show off livestock and crops.
But, unfortunately, this year a lot of the agriculture community had to skip the Missouri State Fair. It wouldn’t have mattered if corndogs were a dollar, or if George Strait, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney played the fair. Mother Nature played a massive role in their lives this year, and she was most definitely the villain.
The great thing about farmers is they are tenacious and they always bounce back no matter what is thrown at them.
So, when cussing and discussing the 2019 State Fair’s attendance, think about what has been happening in the rest of the state. After all, it is the Missouri State Fair not the Sedalia State Fair.