The 2023 Missouri State Fair is set to open the gates for another 11-day run. Situated on 375 acres in Sedalia, the State Fair is a microcosm of rural Missouri. For 121 years, it has been a feast for the senses, opening up the world of agriculture to visitors familiar and not so familiar to the wonder of it all. For 85 of those years, Missouri Farm Bureau has been a part of that wonder.

Whether you visit annually or every few years, there are always a few must-dos. When it comes to food, maybe it’s your favorite corndog stand, the Beef House or the Pork Palace. For thrills, midway carnival rides and grandstand concerts are always fun. Strolling through agricultural exhibits and livestock barns provides its own unique entertainment.

Personally, I think of the fair as a reunion. I’ve lived out of state since 2013, so I’m excited to see some faces I probably haven’t seen in a decade. I also look forward to seeing what’s changed and what features and traditions have held strong. For many, attending the fair is simply tradition.

Thus, this year’s theme, “Where Traditions Grow,” gets to the heart of our feelings for the fair. The nostalgia is not just reserved for those enjoying a day on the fairgrounds.  Organizers and exhibitors pour weeks, if not months, of planning and work into the fair long before the first day. Our 4-H and FFA kids proudly display their baked goods and hand-made crafts in the 4-H Hall, and student-built farm equipment surrounds the FFA Building. Livestock judging shows cover animals from chickens to cattle. Each youth project is a study in determination and commitment. Some families have traveled long miles together, stayed in tight quarters and dined in odd locations. When it’s all said and done, parents look back knowing it was all worth it.

What these kiddos don’t know yet is, win or lose, they’re growing traditions within themselves. Young exhibitors across the grounds are building a work ethic, a sense of accomplishment and the perseverance to see things through. As they interact with fair-goers and exhibitors, they’re building communication skills and establishing connections. They’ve “been in the trenches” at the state fair, and they’re building friendships that last a lifetime.

The state fair is designed to showcase our ag industry by bringing together consumers and food producers. It highlights the young people who will lead our schools, communities and fair activities of tomorrow.

Before the fair gates open, I’d like to give a big shoutout to all the families and communities working together to ensure projects are complete, animals are fed, luggage is packed and registrations are made. It’s a long to-do list, but one that comes with accomplishment, and hopefully grows new traditions to appreciate for years to come.

Enjoy your time at the Missouri State Fair and remember to swing through the Missouri Farm Bureau building near the grandstand to say hello. We want to be a part of your State Fair tradition.

See you at the fair!