State fair officials in west-central Missouri’s Sedalia expect to have a full carnival next month. While worker shortages have forced the cancelation of carnival rides at some county fairs and at Jefferson City’s Salute to America earlier this month, Missouri State Fair director Mark Wolfe is confident they’ll have enough personnel to operate all of the rides.

An aerial view of the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, looking toward the carnival rides (August 2017 file photo courtesy of the Missouri State Fair Flickr page)

“Our carnival contractor is Wade Shows. They’re the largest privately-owned carnival company in the United States. (They) do a great job. I’ve had several conversations with Frank, even just in the recent weeks,” Wolfe says.

The “Jefferson City News-Tribune” reports Salute to America canceled carnival rides during the Fourth of July celebration near the Missouri Capitol, because they couldn’t find enough workers for the rides.

Director Wolfe says you’ll also see new thrill rides in Sedalia and predicts people will love the carnival. Wade also operates the rides at the Oklahoma, Alabama and Florida state fairs, and at the popular Ozark Empire Fair in Springfield. That fair begins Thursday (July 29).

“You know we expect that from a carnival standpoint, we’re going to have a full carnival setting. We’ve been really leaning on him (Frank) hard to come up with some bigger rides and some things that are different, and there’s some challenges that go along with that, obviously. But, I expect that our carnival is going to be a great setup this year,” says Wolfe.

The Missouri State Fair runs from August 12 through 22. This year’s theme is “Our Missouri Celebration,” which highlights the state Bicentennial.

There have been about $8 million in capital improvements at the fairgrounds in Sedalia in the past year. State Fair marketing director Kari Mergen says that includes campground improvements, brick horse barn upgrades and major renovations at the sheep pavilion and the swine barn.

State fair officials and the Parson administration have also been focused on precautions against COVID. A supplemental budget approved by Missouri lawmakers earlier this year included $1.6 million to cover COVID-19-related revenue losses impacting the Missouri State Fair fee fund. The State Fair in Sedalia lost significant revenue due to the 2020 fair’s cancelation, and the cancelation of off-season events.

Part of the $1.6 million in the supplemental also reimbursed the fair, after they purchased substantial amounts of janitorial and sanitizing supplies.

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