The focus of 2016 Missouri State Fair, which starts less than eight weeks from now, is agriculture, according to Director Mark Wolfe.

Wolfe and his staff hosted a kickoff party held Thursday afternoon at the Commercial Building to spotlight attention on Missouri's largest agricultural expo.

“That's what this Fair's all about. We really have a big emphasis on our youth exhibitors. You hear Director (of Missouri Agriculture Richard) Fordyce talk about that all the time, and the department's initiative is promoting youth in agriculture. And there's no better place on the planet at any state fair than right here in Missouri,” Wolfe said.

Everyone is involved in agriculture, whether they realize it or not. “Last time I checked, four out of four people eat,” he said, adding that he feels the MSF is an excellent venue for opportunities to promote agriculture. “And I think we do a good job of that.”

The Missouri Fair has won several awards this past year from the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE). “We've done very well. We compete every year in the fall with fairs of similar size, and we are in the 250,000 – 500,00 attendance bracket. And last year for the first time in a long time, we took the overall agriculture award for our “Let's Talk Livestock” program,” Wolfe said. “It's quite an honor. We shipped home a lot of plaques and had a great time, and hats off to the folks who work here at the facility, our superintendents, and the kids with their exhibits. It's because of them that the Fair gets a little bit of recognition on the back side.”

As much fun as the Fair is, Wolfe noted, it's all about the business of agriculture. “And this the greatest showplace in the state of Missouri for agriculture.”

Pre-sales for all Pepsi Grandstand shows are under way, and general public sales begin Tuesday, June 21 online. The Fair's box office opens June 27, from noon to 6 p.m. Weekdays through Aug. 5.

Some of the acts booked for the 2016 Fair include Three Doors Down with Shaman's Harvest, Brett Eldredge with Belles and Whistles, Steppenwolf, Foghat and Molly Hatchet, Chris Janson with LoCash, Jamey Johnson with John Anderson, Newsboys with Hawk Nelson, Randy Rogers, Jason Boland and Stoney Larue, Lady Antebellum with Kelsea Ballerini.

In addition to the musical acts, there are motorsport events scheduled, including a truck and tractor pull Aug. 14-15, and the Missouri State Fair High Roller Classic on Aug. 21 which includes ASCS national sprints, ULMA late models and WAR non-wing sprints.

Visit Ticketmaster.com or call (800) 796-6776 to purchase tickets to all grandstand events. Or visit mostatefair.com (admission to the Fair is separate).

Also attending the kickoff party, in addition to a wealth of sponsors, politicians, Missouri State Fair Commissioners and vendors, was 2015 Missouri State Fair Queen Destiny Reed.

Reed said her last year as queen has been quite the roller coaster. “It's been a crazy blur of really awesome new experiences and promoting agriculture,” she said at the kickoff.
“I'll be attending a lot of county fair pageants throughout the state of Missouri and helping with judging their pageants and being a key speaker at some of those, so I'm really excited for that opportunity,” Reed said.

Reed will attend the Fair's opening parade on Aug. 11 and crown her successor on Aug. 12. “It will be bittersweet, but I'm excited to see who the new queen will be, and get her started on her adventure. I'm a little sad to give up my title as well,” said Reed, who was accompanied by her mother and a sister. She also has her dad, her brother and another older sister supporting her.

Queen Destiny, 20, who grew up at Palmyra, is currently a student at Truman State University studying English Education. She hopes to secure a job upon graduation teaching middle or high school students.

Her rein as the 2015 Queen has helped Reed in many ways. “I've had the amazing opportunity to just interact with people who are different than me. And that's been a really cool experience and something that I think will help me throughout my career as an educator,” she said.

Reed credited her hometown with support when she competed for the title as Miss Marion County. “I got a lot of positive feedback from my community,” she stated. As for future pageants, Reed indicated this is the end of the road for her. “There are other pageant systems out there, but this is a good note to go out on.”

The 2016 Missouri State Fair with the theme, “See What Crops Up,” runs Aug. 11 – 21.