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Missouri Is Eyeing State Fairgrounds Expansion

File photo / Marshall Griffin
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri State Fair could see an expansion of around 200 acres if the state decides to purchase land located west of the fair.

The Missouri State Fair currently sits on over 375 acres of land, but could expand by around 200 if the state makes an offer to purchase an adjacent plot.

The state is working with State Fair Community College as well as Pettis County, the City of Sedalia and the fair itself on the acquisition of 400 acres located west of the fairgrounds. The current plan is to split the land evenly between the fair and the college.

The cost for the state is estimated to be $3 million to $4 million, depending on whether the school provides a $1 million match.

Missouri had an opportunity to purchase the same land over 10 years ago but declined due to a weak economy, said state Rep. Brad Pollitt, R-Sedalia.

Pollitt spoke about the possible acquisition during a recent meeting of the Joint Committee on Agriculture at the Capitol. He told legislators he has been in contact with the owners of the land.

“They have been offered by some Realtors to piece parts of it. They’ve given me their word that they would like for the state to be able to purchase that for the fair and for the State Fair Community College,” Pollitt said.

This land represents the last opportunity for the fair to expand, as the grounds are essentially landlocked by already-developed properties.

“This land will sell, and if we don’t buy it then developers will buy it, and they’ll be houses on it because it’s a prime location for that,” Pollitt said.

Immediate needs the additional acres would help address include expanding parking and establishing more camping hookups for both exhibitors of the fair and patrons.

“People love to camp at the state fair,” Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins said. “Oftentimes [it] is a vacation for folks, and they may be there for five days, they may be there for all 11 days and then some.”

The expansion would also mean more year-round events for the fairgrounds, including possible rodeos or livestock shows.

“I really think it just puts Missouri and Sedalia on the map for greater expanded conversations,” Hawkins said.

More events and a bigger fair also would mean more tourists visiting Sedalia.

“We’re a sales tax-driven city, and with that we want to encourage all the tourism we can and that’s the multiplier effect of having the fair here bringing in people from the surrounding area and the surrounding states,” Sedalia Mayor John Kedhe said.

Kedhe agrees that this is essentially the fair’s last chance to grow.

Pollitt hopes that Gov. Mike Parson will put the land purchase into his budget, though Pollitt has yet to hear from the governor.

Sarah Kellogg is a Missouri Statehouse and Politics Reporter for St. Louis Public Radio and other public radio stations across the state.