Missouri will host its annual state fair Aug. 13-23 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Mike Parson confirmed Thursday that he will attend the fair, but cautioned that the fair will look different because of safety guidelines.
“It has only been canceled once in past 100 years, and I don’t want to be the governor that makes it the second time,” Parson said. “The fair will look different this year, but we’re going to be everything we can to safely make it happen and keep the tradition going and alive.”
The fair is canceling the concerts it typically schedules, but all other events will continue.
On its website, the fair states that its mission is to feature Missouri agriculture. It also works to promote projects done by National FFA Organization and 4-H members and their families.
“Just like farming, its amazing to see the educational value the state fair provides for our students,” said Chris Chinn, director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
“These young 4-H and FFA members are the future of agriculture,” Chinn said. “And talking with the governor, we wanted to ensure these traditions continued this year.”
Chinn said that the fair will heighten its safety precautions by purchasing more hand sanitizer stations and by stepping up its cleaning and sanitation efforts. Parson also said the fair may look to separate crowds or limit attendance, but that these decisions are still being determined.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Boone County to cancel its county fair. Other states, like Iowa and Illinois, have already canceled their state fairs.
Chinn said the state based its decision from COVID-19 data without providing specifics. She also said the fair was safe to hold because it occurs in Sedalia, a rural area, while other states usually hold their fairs in more urban settings.
The concerts were canceled because performers were backing out of their shows for the fair, according to Chinn. The fair will work with event planners to determine how the other events will be organized going forward.
The fair will also continue its Drive to Feed Kids event in some form. The one-day event is part of a yearlong effort to address food insecurity in Missouri. Chinn said the event helps pack more than 100,000 meals for families in need.