Modified State Fair and a Special Session Update
Wed, 08/19/2020 - 12:50pm admin
Sen. Mike Cunningham (R-33)
Before I address the topic I really want to discuss this week, I need to update everyone on the extra legislative session currently underway at the State Capitol. On Aug. 7, Senate Bill 1 cleared the upper chamber and moved onto the House of Representatives. This legislation includes six provisions intended to help police and prosecutors in their battle against violent crime. Early this week, the governor expanded his call for the extra session and asked the General Assembly to grant Missouri’s attorney general authority to prosecute murderers in the City of St. Louis when the local prosecutor fails to act.
Prior to the expanded call, many of us assumed the Senate’s package of anti-crime legislation would be approved by the House, and the extra session would end quickly. That’s not what happened. Instead, the House announced it intended to split the provisions of SB 1 into separate pieces of legislation, which could each be reviewed individually. That work is not scheduled to begin until later this month. It seems the extra session most of us initially thought would be done in a week, may stretch into next month.
With the extra legislative session on hold, we can turn our attentions back to traditional summertime activities. In most years, August in Missouri means just one thing for many of us: it’s time for the state fair.
Like so many other public gatherings, the Missouri State Fair has been impacted by COVID-19. Fair organizers wrestled with whether it was wise to hold an event that traditionally attracts more than 300,000 visitors during the middle of a pandemic. Eventually, they decided to return the 118-year-old agricultural showplace to its roots. The 2020 Missouri State Fair, which continues through Aug. 23, is exclusively devoted to youth livestock competitions.
Anyone attending the fair this year will see an entirely different event than what they’ve enjoyed in the past. There will be no carnival rides. The grandstand will remain empty as no concerts will be held. There’s no rodeo or demolition derby. There will be no election year glad handing at the Governor’s Ham Breakfast, since the annual event has been canceled. Instead of funnel cake stands and corn dog booths throughout the grounds, there will be just a few vendors on hand to supply fair food favorites.
This year’s scaled-back fair is disappointing. But, for many of us, livestock and the kids who show their animals have always been the highlight of the state fair. These young people work so hard all year, caring for animals and preparing for the fair. It would be a shame if they weren’t able to see their projects through because of a virus.
Youth livestock competitions will go forward on their original 11-day schedule. Only the ever-popular rabbit show has been eliminated, ironically due to a potentially deadly virus affecting rabbits. The FFA Building will be closed to the public, but the 4-H building will be open each day. The Sale of Champions will take place on Saturday, Aug. 22, as previously scheduled. The event will be streamed live online for those who can’t attend in person. You can find details about the auction and all of the other activities of the 2020 Missouri State Fair at www.mostatefair.com.
Although attendance is expected to be low, this year’s fair is open to the public. No parking or entrance fees will be charged. The campground will operate as usual. Fair organizers ask everyone attending to practice social distancing. Masks are required, by order of the Pettis County Health Center, and will be provided to anyone who doesn’t bring one. Furthermore, health officials ask anyone who feels sick to stay home.
The pandemic has brought countless disruptions to our lives. For many of us, the loss of the annual Missouri State Fair was especially heart-breaking. The fair won’t be the same this year, but the young people who work so hard and put so much of their heart and soul into their 4-H and FFA projects will not be denied the experience of competition. COVID-19 has robbed so many Missourians of so many things. I’m glad that it won’t steal the precious memory of the fair from our children. I wish them all the best of luck and hope that everyone who attends stays safe and healthy.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of the 33rd Senatorial District. Although the Legislature has adjourned for 2020, 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.