Missouri State Fair's opening day attendance tops 2008

SEDALIA, Mo. | An estimated 4,300 more people attended the opening day of the 2009 Missouri State Fair compared to last year.

Final attendance figures will not be available until Wednesday morning, but officials said first-day attendance should be up by at least 9 percent. Some 48,000 fairgoers passed through the turnstiles opening day in 2008, which projects attendance Thursday at more than 52,300.

“If you tried to get into the fairgrounds yesterday afternoon, you knew it was a busy place,” said fair Director Mark Wolfe.

Good weather, the success of last year’s fair and free entertainment contributed to high attendance Thursday, Wolfe said. Several parking gates had to be closed after they became full. “It’s a good problem to have,” Wolfe said.

The fair features 31,000 exhibits this year, which is on par with last year’s figures. More than 3,000 exhibitors are entered in 4-H and FFA contests.

“People come to see these exhibits,” said fair Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Schlueter. The commission and fair staff worked hard to make the fair affordable and offer new attractions, along with keeping traditional activities, Schlueter said.

“I feel we will have one of our record-breaking fairs,” she said.

The volume of the crowds could be shown in the success of the farmer’s market in the Agriculture Building. The market sold out of raspberries and blackberries by 10:30 a.m. and peaches by 1:30 p.m. Two workers were traveling to farms Friday morning to replenish supplies at the market.