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There's nothing that's just fair about the SEMO District Fair. It's a sensational event for the whole family. The bustling week of entertainment, food and excitement begins Sunday at the Arena Park Fairgrounds. The festivities continue through next Saturday.

This year, some big-name country stars will join tried-and-true grandstand favorites. Willie Nelson takes the stage Thursday night. Kenny Chesney performs Friday, and Lonestar and Brad Hawkins will culminate fair week Saturday night. Earlier in the week, the grandstand will be hopping with a gigantic horse show, a take-no-prisoners demolition derby and truck and tractor pulls that challenge both your ears and eyes.

Perhaps that's the real appeal of the SEMO District Fair: There's something for everyone. The young-at-heart will delight in midway thrills and spills. The animals, which arrive Tuesday, are always a favorite of both country and city folk alike. And the fair food -- well, let's just say that it's not a good place to start a diet.

There's no better bargain -- $2 for general admission -- and many events and exhibitions are free. Sunday remains a free admission day, a great opportunity to sample the tantalizing tastes and enticing sounds.

But the fair is more than just exhilaration for the senses. It is one of the largest tourist attractions of the year. By week's end, more than 100,000 people will pass through the fair gates. Many travel quite a distance to attend the region's largest and oldest fair.

This year marks the 143rd annual SEMO District Fair, a tribute to the thousands of volunteers who make this event possible. Hats off to the Fair Association members who work long and hard to put on a top-quality, family-friendly fair year after year.

Follow your senses or the Monday night parade to the Arena Park fairgrounds. There's nothing to compare with the SEMO District Fair.