1. When and where? The Missouri State Fair runs today through Aug. 19 in Sedalia. The fairgrounds are on U.S. 65 a few blocks south of U.S. 50. Take 50 east from Lee’s Summit or take Interstate 70 east to the Marshall junction and head south on 65. Admission is $10 for adults (12 and older), $7 for seniors 60 and older, $2 for ages 6 to 12, and free for age 5 and younger, though but admission is frequently discounted. Free parking is abundant. Pay $5 to park closer. Gates are open from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
2. What are the highlights? Too many to count. Montgomery Gentry plays tonight, Hank Williams Jr. plays Saturday night, Casting Crowns plays Aug. 16, and Cole Swindell and Raelynn play Aug. 18, among other grandstand acts (those shows range from $20 to $50). The Missouri State Fair Shoot Out, a truck and tractor pull, is Aug. 12, followed by the Outlaw Truck & Tractor Pulling Association event the next day. Sprint cars are Aug. 19, as are the Missouri Fiddling Championships.
3. How can I save a few dollars? Go to mostatefair.com or check Facebook, Twitter or other social media. Download the schedule for the day you plan to go, and look for deals. For instance, admission is $5 after 5 p.m. Aug. 12 to 16. Bring two cans of food on Aug. 14 to get in for $2; carnival rides are $2 that day. Police and firefighters get in free this Saturday, and veterans and active military get in free this Sunday. Aug. 16 is throwback Thursday -- $5 admission all day for ages 13 and older, and free for 12 and younger.
4. Is there anything to eat? If you leave hungry, you might have missed something. Vendors have mostly traditional fare such as lemonade, cotton candy and corndogs. Beef and pork trade associations have their own restaurants, Beef House and Pork Place. The Missouri Grown Bistro and Market is in the Taylor Woods Youth Building. The Ag Building showcases many Missouri products. Take the Wine 101 class. The University of Missouri sells Tiger Stripe ice cream.
5. They still have all the traditional stuff, right? They do. The opening ceremony is at noon today, the opening-day parade is at 6 this evening, the Governor’s Ham Breakfast – traditionally a gathering of politicians and other state leaders – is at 8 a.m. Aug. 16, the Sale of Champions of 1:30 p.m. Aug. 18, and judges give out blue ribbons for everything from livestock to produce to artwork just about every day. Plus, Otto the Talking Car gives kids tips on safety near the Highway Gardens.
-- Jeff Fox