The 2016 Missouri State Fair is officially underway now after a 10 a.m. opening ceremony held just outside the Ag Building Thursday morning.

Gov. Jay Nixon, who has 144 days remaining in office, was the featured speaker for the event. He noted how agriculture has been the backbone of the state for generations.

Randy Kirby

"Missouri has nearly 100,000 farms and 28.3 millions acres of farmland. And agriculture directly employs more than a quarter million Missourians. Each year, producers from our state sell more than $12 billion of ag products outside of Missouri, around the globe," Nixon said.

Missouri is top 10 in the nation in corn, soybean, cattle, hogs, cotton, rice, poultry, horses, black walnuts, and more, the governor noted. "The men and women who have dedicated their lives to feeding, fueling and clothing the world, have made Missouri an agricultural powerhouse, and they continue to drive our state's economic growth. And that's why we have made the Missouri State Fair the premier agricultural showcase for well over 100 years," Nixon said in his speech.

Other prominent speakers included Director of Agriculture Richard Fordyce, Missouri State Fair Director Mark Wolfe and State Fair Commissioner Lowell Mohler.

2015 State Fair Queen Destiny Reed was on the podium, as were Sedalia Mayor Stephen J. Galliher, State Rep. Nathan Beard, State Rep.Mike Parson, Commisisoner Barbara Hayden, Former State Rep. and current State Fair Commissioner Jim Mathewson.

The Marshall Municipal Band provided stirring music for the occasion. They also played the theme songs for each branch of the military just prior to the start of the ceremony.

The Smith-Cotton JROTC Color Guard displayed the colors during the singing of the National Anthem, sung by Georgia Barge.

The opening parade takes place at 6 p.m. this evening. The 2016 State Fair Queen will be crowned Friday afternoon in the Mathewson Exhibition Center.

The 114th Missouri State Fair runs through Aug. 21. For more information, visit www.mostatefair.com.