A host of dignitaries helped kick off the opening ceremony for the 2017 Missouri State Fair Thursday morning just outside the Ag Building.

Randy Kirby
Randy Kirby

Lt. Gov. Mike Parson was the keynote speaker for the opening ceremony for the State Fair, which adopted the theme “Come Home” this year.

“With all the turmoil we're facing today, it feels good to come home. And the State Fair will always be here, as it has been for over the last century. It feels like home for all of us here today,” Parson said, noting that the first State Fair was held in 1901.

“I cannot begin to express to you how important agriculture is to our state. It is the backbone and soul of Missouri. And being a farmer myelsf, it is near and dear to my heart,” he said. “We have a lot of things to be rpoud of in Missouri.”

Parson went on to note that Missouri ranks in the top 10 in the nation in commodity markets for farms, #2 in beef cow production, #3 in rice, #4 in turkeys, #5 in hogs, #7 in cotton, #8 in soybeans, #9 in chickens, #9 in farmer's market and #10 in corn.

“The economic impact of agriculture in Missouri is over $88 billion,” Parson said, adding that there are nearly 100,000 farms in the state, and one in 10 of Missouri jobs are agriculturally related.

“Over the next 40 years, we have to double the production of agriculure to feed the population of this country. What's took us over 240 years to get, we have to double that in 40 years to meet the demands of this country,” he noted.

“Missouri has to invest in agriculture for the next generation,” Parson emphasized.

In addition to the lieutenant governor, State Fair Director Mark Wolfe, State Director of Agriculture Chin, State Sen. Sandy Crawford (R-28), State Rep. Nathan Beard (R-52), Missouri Division of Tourism Public Relations Specialist Stephen Foutes, Missouri State Fair Foundation First Vice President Bud Summers, Sedalia Mayor Stephen J. Galliher, and members of the Missouri State Fair Commission, as well as 2016 State Fair Queen Lani Ogle attended the 45-minute ceremony.

Mitchell Moon, president of  the Missouri 4-H Council, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Emily Blaue (Wellington), vice president of the Missouri FFA, sang the National Anthem, and Abby Bertz (Odessa), president of the Missouri FFA, gave the invocation.

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of West Central Missouri made up a large section of the audience.

Fair Director Wolfe thanked fair visitors for "continuing to come home" over the years, and encouraged them to start a new tradition by taking pictures in front of the one-third scale replica of the old main gate, located just inside the Centennial entrance.

The Marshall Municipal Band provided musical entertainment for the annual event.

The opening parade is scheduled for Thursday evening at 6 p.m.

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