The Missouri State Fair in Sedalia is moving forward with plans to hold the event as scheduled Aug. 13-23.
This year’s fair, the state’s largest, will be scaled down, however, due to COVID-19, officials said.
Fair Director Mark Wolfe said the grandstand entertainment events, including concerts, will not be held, but the livestock shows will go on as scheduled. Details on food and other vendors, smaller entertainment and other events have not been announced.
Wolfe said fair officials will be stepping up efforts to keep areas clean and disinfected to make things as safe as possible for visitors. “There are some things we can set up to allow people to social distance if they choose, but that will be up to the people that come through the gate,” he said, adding “It’s pretty difficult to change a whole lot about the livestock shows.”
In Franklin County, the Washington Town & Country Fair, the second largest in the state, has been canceled, according to the Washington Chamber of Commerce and Fair Board. It was scheduled for Aug. 5-9. However, the Washington Chamber is still considering holding the fair’s livestock show and auction.
“Our governor is so supportive of agriculture and that’s such a big part of (the state) fair and our fair as well, so we are working very hard to try to be able to do that,” Chamber President and Fair Manager Jennifer Giesike said. “We are hoping to be able to get that information out soon.”
Planning fairs around the evolving COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique challenge, Wolfe said. “It’s difficult to plan something this big months in advance when you don’t know what the circumstances are going to be.”
Many regional and county fairs have been canceled across the state. But Wolfe said there is still a large interest in livestock exhibitions, and there have been large turnouts for independent jackpot shows.
“I would expect our livestock shows are going to be pretty big,” he said.
The state fair’s announcement that it would move forward as scheduled came June 11, the same day that Gov. Mike Parson announced the state would fully reopen June 16.
“Our hearts broke as we watched COVID-19 cancel fairs, festivals and expositions around the world,” a June 11 State Fair press release states. “We know the countless hours our exhibitors and fair families have put in to taking care of their livestock and 4-H and FFA projects. Our priority continues to be the promotion of excellence in Missouri agriculture and our future agriculture leaders.”
The State Fair plans to broadcast future updates on how it will proceed through mostatefair.com and social media.
In addition to the Washington Town & Country Fair, the Franklin County Fair in Union, a June event, also was canceled.