What’s the issue? The Missouri State Fair kicks off Thursday and runs through Aug. 20 in Sedalia.

How does it affect me? Entrants from Eastern Jackson County and elsewhere in the state are among the 30,000 entrants in various contests, from livestock to fine arts.

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The Missouri State Fair opens its 11-day run on Thursday.

It’s a rain-or-shine event, and over 11 days some of each can be expected.

On Tuesday, the fair’s marketing director, Kari Mergen, was looking ahead to the opening parade and other events that kick things off Thursday – with the possibility of rain in the forecast.

“It’s Missouri,” she said. “We’ll just play it by ear.”

What’s to see

Surveys show that food, music and the carnival are consistently strong draws, though Mergen points to the fair’s agricultural roots and suggests a stroll through a few of the animal barns as well.

The fair has a “Let’s Talk Livestock” program in which 4-H and FFA youth talk about the animals the raise, the work that goes into that and why they do it.

“It has worked really well,” Mergen said, adding that in a second program “Barnyard Story Time,” FFA and 4-H youth read books to children.

Another farm-related thing to check out: the draft-horse competitions.

“Saturday night is the big one,” Mergan said.

Where and where

The fairgrounds are in Sedalia, south of the intersection of U.S. 50 and U.S. 65.

Regular admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors 60 and older, $2 for ages 6 to 12, and free for those 5 and younger. Parking is free and plentiful, though there is VIP parking for $5.

Grandstand tickets – there are country music acts almost every night – does not include admission to the fair itself.

The fair has a wealth of information – daily schedules, daily discounts, stage performances – on its website at http://www.mostatefair.com . For instance, you can print off the lengthy schedule for the specific day you plan to attend.

And, of course, these days everyone looks on Facebook.

“Facebook’s our No. 1 channel, we find,” she said.

There are specials throughout the fair. Thursday’s admission is $4 for ages 13 and older. Saturday is Law Enforcement/Firefighters Appreciation Day – free admission for law enforcement and firefighters and $1 for immediate family members. Sunday is Military Appreciation Day – free for active duty, veterans and delayed-entry recruits and $1 for immediate family.

Tickets and wristbands

In advance of the fair, several retailers across the state sell tickets and carnival ride packages. Today is the last day for that, though you can still buy them online (with a fee) or at the fair.

Those merchants include Menards in Independence as well as several Walgreens stores: 1701 N.W. Missouri 7 and 3200 S.W. Missouri 7 in Blue Springs as well as 1536 E. 23rd St., 2261 S. Sterling, 3915 S. 39th St. and 17811 East U.S. 24 in Independence.

Merchants have gate admission for $8 (normally $10), a one-day unlimited carnival ride wristband for $21 (normally $30), a $40 unlimited daily deal for $29, and a $140 jumbo pass for $50.

Once the fair starts, wristbands can be purchased online.

“That’s new for us. We’ve never been able to do that before,” Mergen said.

Rides

Wade Shows provides the rides at the fair, the same company that does the Ohio State Fair, where last month a man died in an accident on a ride called the Fireball.

Wade and others use that ride around the country, and it was scheduled for the Missouri State Fair but has been canceled.

“It will not be here,” Mergen said.

She said the Missouri fair’s director called the owner of Wade Shows the morning after the Ohio accident and the owner pulled the ride immediately.

“He’s pulled it from all of his shows,” Mergen said.

The midway opens at noon weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. It runs until 11:30 p.m. or as late at 1:30 a.m., at the operator’s discretion and depending on the weather.

The fair stresses that the Missouri Department of Public Safety inspects carnival rides and that a third party – a certified inspector – is on the fairgrounds throughout the fair.

Helping others

The fair is working with Missouri Farmers Care for a new event on Thursday, the fair’s opening day. It’s called the Drive to Feed Kids, and it’s intended both to address food insecurity and showcase Missouri ag products.

Sawyer Brown plays on the grandstand that night, and leader singer Mark Mill is involved in this effort too. He’s connected to a film, “Where the Fast Lane Ends,” that’s being show at 3:30 p.m. in the directors’ tent. Admission is a minimum donation of $25. (Showing a film is a first for the fair, Mergen said.) Also, FFA youths that day are set to pack 50,000 kid-friendly meals for Meals of Hope.

Aug. 15 is Missouri Farmers Care Food Drive Tuesday. Take canned food donations to the Centennial Gate for coupons for admission – a can is good for $1 – with a maximum discount of $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and $1 per child ticket. Redeem the coupons at the gate admission ticket booths.

Young people will make artistic creations out of some cans of food, to be displayed for the rest of the fair.