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'A day away at the fair': the sights and sounds of the 2023 Missouri State Fair

A bright, sunny day. Lots of people mill around next to food stands. A large ferris wheel is in the distance.
Rebecca Smith
The Missouri State Fair features dozens and dozens of exhibitions, attractions, rides and entertainment.

As you enter the Poultry and Rabbits Building, there are dozens of rows of rabbits – young and adult, solid color and broken, longhaired and lop-eared. Standing among them is 12-year-old rabbit raiser Gabi Marlow from Pleasant Hill, Missouri and her mom, Becky.

Gabi is a third-generation rabbit raiser.

Becky Marlow: I started showing when I was nine. So, seeing her do the same things that I loved – it just makes my heart so full.

Gabi Marlow: So, this is Peanut Butter. He's one of my homegrowns. He's around three years old. I'm very proud of him. He has done very well this summer.

Becky Marlow: I've always been a firm believer that the kids who have animals become better humans – essentially because they learn the responsibility from the time that they walk that they have somebody depending on them, that they need food, they need water every single day. They don't have an option. They have to get up. They have to go do their chores.

The Agriculture Building on the Fairground houses the largest pumpkins and watermelons, local producers and the Missouri State Beekeepers Association. But along the back wall, volunteers, FFA members and state legislators are packing boxes side-by-side.

Lindsay Lopez: I'm President and CEO of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

So, this is an event that we hold every year here at the State Fair, and it offers an opportunity for us to invite legislators and other policy makers, friends to come and help us pack veteran packs. The veteran pack, or the VIP pack, is a program that we created at our food bank, and it benefits 500 veterans each month at 14 locations in 13 counties.

Food Insecurity is such a prevalent problem – not only in the 32 counties that we serve, but actually across the entire state of Missouri and the country. So, it really helps to tell the story about those who are experiencing food insecurity either one time or over a sustained period of time, and how these efforts can really make a difference.

People come from all over to attend the State Fair – including one group from Cole Camp in Benton County.

Angie Brandis: [I'm the] activity director from Good Samaritan Care Center. Basically, we just get a bunch of the residents together and pack them up and bring them up to enjoy the day away at the Fair – everything from eating funnel cakes and corndogs to watching pig races, going to see the petting zoo animal, you know, just trying to let them get to see everything that they haven't got to do before.

This is Donna Rorie. She’s just a little piece of apple pie – sweet as they come.

Donna Webb Rorie sits in a wheelchair. She has on a straw hat and a bright yellow shirt.
Rebecca Smith
Donna Webb Rorie will be 87 in October. She said she's been to lots of carnivals in her day, but this was her first time coming to the State Fair in Sedalia.

Donnie Webb Rorie: I'm from Stella, Missouri. I'll be 87 in October.

I just love everybody up here that’s been talking to me, but I didn't think there was anything really special – my first Fair. But I have enjoyed it so much and everybody's so friendly. I've seen so many things that I've never seen before – those big ole fish and everything.

When I was younger, carnivals would come through and my Daddy, he put me on the Ferris Wheel. When it came around, I said “Get me off of this, Daddy!” It scared me. I will not get on it.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.
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