Sen. Mike Cunningham’s Legislative Column for July 25, 2019

Legislative Column for July 25, 2019

Have you ever felt like you were one of the fortunate few? Maybe you know about a great place to eat or a fun event and want to share it with your neighbors. You wonder how it’s possible that so many people are missing out.

Well, every August, that’s exactly how I feel about the Missouri State Fair. Last year, 340,000 people attended the premier showcase of Missouri agriculture. That means 95 percent of the state’s 6 million people stayed home.

As a state lawmaker, I find that statistic troubling on a couple of levels. For one, it shows how disconnected the average Missourian has become from agriculture, historically one of the most important segments of the state’s economy. Secondly, I’m disappointed that so many of my fellow citizens did not get to enjoy the fun.

The Missouri State Fair, which will be held from Aug. 8 through Aug. 18 in Sedalia, offers something for everyone. Even if you’re not interested in farming, the event is jam-packed with entertainment. There are big-name musical performers, carnival rides, interesting exhibits, great food and exciting events, including rodeo, tractor pulls, a sprint car race, motocross and a demolition derby. It’s literally impossible to see it all in a day, and with different events scheduled across 11 days, you really need to return several times to fully appreciate all the fair has to offer.

No matter how much you enjoy funnel cakes and roller coasters, the State Fair always has been and will remain an agricultural extravaganza. Americans are increasingly concerned about the food they eat. We pay attention to nutrition and look for ways to support local producers. What better way to learn about food and where it comes from than to spend a day at the State Fair?

All aspects of Missouri’s agricultural industry are represented at the fair. Yes, there’s beef, dairy, pork and poultry, but there’s also so much more. Watch a goat or sheep judging and you’ll learn about parts of Missouri agriculture that you’ve never considered. Walk through the poultry or rabbit exhibits and you’ll be amazed at the variety of the animals. Wander the various buildings and you’ll meet a number of small agricultural producers that provide locally sourced, natural and wholesome goods to consumers.

Everyone has their own favorites. I especially enjoy the horses. Other people marvel at the giant pumpkins and watermelons. Still others like nothing better than to wander the rows of farm implements or visit the various vendors in the commercial buildings. The art exhibit and flower show are always popular, as are the educational displays provided by various state agencies.

One thing is quickly apparent when you visit the State Fair. This is an event aimed at young people. Everywhere you look, you’ll see children caring for animals and demonstrating their interest and dedication to agriculture. There are entire exposition halls filled with projects completed by children. Every time I tour the 4-H or FFA buildings I am impressed by the hard work and imagination of Missouri’s youth. If you think our farm kids are stuck in the past, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. These impressive youngsters are on the cutting edge of technology, nutrition and the environment.

The quality of these young Missourians is not news to those of us who live in rural areas. We see them in our communities and know the effort they put in preparing for county fairs and, ultimately, the State Fair. I encourage all Missourians to take the trip to Sedalia to see for themselves. Forget any negative things you may hear about “kids these days.” A day at the fair will convince you that our future is in good hands.

I wish all Missouri families could see these young people at work. These kids are engaged and responsible. Their care for their livestock and the pride they show when presenting their projects stands in stark contrast to the stereotype of a teenager with his or her nose glued to a video screen. Seeing these youngsters gives me hope, and I suspect it will have the same effect on you. I imagine your children will be inspired, as well.

So, let’s all show our support for these amazing young people, and for Missouri agriculture. Please visit and take a look at the schedule of events. You’ll find a full listing of entertainment opportunities, livestock competitions and special events. You’ll also find a list of reduced price admission days and other promotions. Pick a day or two and come to the State Fair and see what all the excitement is about.

It is my great honor to represent the citizens of the 33rd Senatorial District. Although the Legislature has adjourned for 2019, I remain your senator throughout the year. If there’s anything that I can do to assist you, please feel free to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.