Missouri’s big party starts today. The Missouri State Fair, held in Sedalia, runs through Sunday, Aug. 17.

Hours: Gates are open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and most buildings that are open to the public are open from 9 to 9 (9 to 6 on Aug. 17). The carnival opens by noon weekdays and 11 a.m. weekends, weather permitting.

Admission: Single-day admission is $8 for adults, $6 for those 60 and older, $2 for ages 6 to 12, and free for those five and younger. However, there are lots of discounts:

• Today’s admission is $2 for everyone 6 and older.

• Aug. 10 is Military Appreciation Day, meaning free admission for veterans, active military and delayed-entry recruits with a valid ID, plus $1 admission for spouses and dependent children. It’s the same for police, firefighters, paramedics and EMTs on Aug. 17.

• Kids 12 and under get in free on Aug. 16, courtesy the Department of Conservation.

• There’s an admission discount Aug. 12 if you bring a canned food item.

What to do: There’s a lot to see, hear, smell and taste. Walk the show barns to look over cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, poultry, donkeys, mules and rabbits. There’s a children’s petting zoo. Check out the Floriculture and Fine Arts buildings. Get recipes and ideas in buildings ranging from 4H to home economics. See the state’s best hams and largest pumpkins and watermelons in the Ag Building. Sit in the shade of the Missouri Department of Transportation Highway Gardens. Watch the judging of everything from hay to hogs to quilts. And eat. There’s plenty to eat.

A handful of highlights:

• Grandstand shows include Scotty McCreery and Kelsey K (Aug. 7), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and Black Stone Cherry (Aug. 8), Sara Evans and Joe Nichols (Aug. 9), the Missouri Association Championship Truck and Tractor Pull (Aug. 10 and 11), and MercyMe (Aug. 14). Tickets do not include admission to the fair itself.

• Here’s the best bet. Go to mostatefair.com and download each day’s extensive one-sheet schedule. There are also schedules for judging and for events in some of the main buildings.

• The Ag Building always draws good crowds, with everything from honey to elk jerky for sale. New this year will be Berry Nutty Farms of Independence, which makes the Granola Jones brand of granola as well as a line of jams and jellies. Co-owners Andrea Schetzler and Darrell Tindall will be on hand with their restored 1967 Volkswagen Beetle that they are driving in the Fireball Run starting in late September. The event is aired on a web-based TV show and raises awareness of missing children. The nationwide race this year ends on the Independence Square in early October.

• The Conservation Department has programs a couple of times a day, including fish cleaning and cooking (Aug. 8 and 9), great horned owls and bald eagles (today and Aug. 16), and “Missouri’s wild edible harvest (Aug. 14).

Getting there: There are two main ways. One is to take U.S. 50 east to Sedalia and turn south on U.S. 65 for a few blocks and look for the Centennial Gate entrance on your right. Another is to take Interstate 70 east to U.S. 65, turn south to Sedalia (about 18 miles) and, after crossing U.S. 50, look for the Centennial Gate entrance. Parking is free and abundant. There is VIP parking for $5 if you want to get closer.

Learn lots more:

• http://www.mostatefair.com

• https://www.facebook.com/MissouriStateFair