The 2019 State Fair opens Thursday morning in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia. It’s Missouri’s largest agricultural expo.

The Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia (2018 file photo courtesy of Missouri State Fair)

State Fair Director Mark Wolfe says the fair commission is waiving late fees for entries this year, because farmers have endured hardships from flooding and tornadoes.

“We decided to waive our late fees, and so we did it across-the-board for everything not just our livestock but for entries for everything that we did. As a whole, we decided let’s just waive that,” Wolfe says.

The opening ceremony is Thursday morning at 11, and Lieutenant Governor Mike Kehoe is expected to keynote. Wolfe says about 350,000 people attended last year’s fair.

Thousands of Missourians are expected to make the trip to Sedalia for Thursday’s opening day.

Another big day will be August 15, which is the Governor’s ham breakfast. That begins at 8 a.m. The event normally draws more than 1,000 people to one large tent.

“It’s a popular event for sure,” says Wolfe. “A chance for folks if they want to have a chance to meet the governor face-to-face and meet their legislators face-to-face, that’s a great opportunity over there.”

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and representatives from U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley are expected to attend the breakfast, along with other members of Missouri’s congressional delegation. The breakfast also attracts state lawmakers in both parties along with candidates and judges.

Meantime, more than $8 million in new upgrades and repairs to the Missouri State Fairgrounds in Sedalia have been approved by state lawmakers. Director Wolfe is thanking legislators for approving Governor Mike Parson’s recommendation, saying the improvements are needed.

“It’s a complete electrical upgrade to the swine barn, complete renovation to the old sheep pavilion out here,” Wolfe says. “Gosh, we got some more campground upgrades. A new campground, 150-site campground will be developed just for exhibitors only.”

Wolfe tells Missourinet he’s hopeful all of those improvements will be done by the 2020 State Fair.

Some rural lawmakers, including State Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, have called for additional funding for the fair in previous years. Senator Libla has said that investing more money in facilities will pay dividends in the future.

2019 facility improvements and upgrades include a new ticket booth at the Centennial entrance and the remodeling of the Charolais barn.

This year’s fair ends on August 18.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe, which was recorded on July 26, 2019:

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