Missouri State Fair completes first century

Thursday, August 22, 2002

The Missouri State Fair closed another 10-day run on Sunday in Sedalia, Mo., celebrating a century of showcasing agriculture for the approximately 350,000 visitors who made the trek to the state fairgrounds.

This makes the fair one of the longest-running agricultural expositions in the nation (even thought the SEMO District Fair in Cape Girardeau next month has been around a lot longer). The state fair has been held every year since 1901 except for two years during World War II.

Reminders of fairs past were everywhere at this year's state fair. Contests included riding old-fashioned, high-wheeled bicycles, spitting watermelon seeds, eating whole pies, calling hogs and husking ears of corn.

Through the decades, the fair's focus has been consistent: promoting agriculture, from early displays of steam-powered tractors to today's costly, massive equipment boasting computers, air conditioning and global-positioning guidance systems.

The location of the state fair in the west-central part of the state means, naturally, that fewer residents of the southeast part of the state get to attend than those who reside closer. Still, a sizable number of Southeast Missourians go to the fair each year not only as visitors but also as successful exhibitors, returning home with ribbons of every color.

We join Missourians from all corners of the Show Me State in saluting a great tradition and those who bring it to us. Here's to another century for the Missouri State Fair.

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