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Farm Bureau and the Fair go way back

BY CHRIS FENNEWALD

Missouri Farm Bureau has been a part of the Missouri State Fair since 1921.
Farm Bureau and the Fair go way back

 
Article Highlights
The State Fair is and should be the showcase for Missouri agriculture.
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Farm Bureau/Farm Family Day at the Fair provides special discounts and recognition.
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On March 24, 1915, farmers and ranchers in Saline County organized the first Farm Bureau with the goal of improving the quality of life for rural Missourians and protecting the industry of agriculture. One of the 10 counties represented was its southern neighbor, Pettis County, home of the Missouri State Fair.

Six years later, Missouri Farm Bureau first took part in the Missouri State Fair under a big tent erected a block north of the old Agriculture Building. Pettis County and Missouri Farm Bureaus cooperated in maintaining the Farm Bureau’s Fair headquarters.

Except for a handful of years, Farm Bureau has maintained a presence at the Fair since then.

Farm Bureau booths could be found under a tent until 1929, when the organization moved to a new Agriculture Building originally built for John Deere Company. For many years, Farm Bureau could be found in the Agriculture Building, Administration Building or Varied Industries Building on the grounds.

In 1941, Farm Bureau information and promotions once again took to the big tent, this time just north of the Administration Building. Except during World War II when the Fair was discontinued, Farm Bureau occupied the 65-foot-long tent every year until 1971.

That was the year the organization built its own 40-by-90-foot, air-conditioned building on the fairgrounds in the same spot. At the dedication, Missouri Farm Bureau President C.R. Johnston said, “For many years Missouri Farm Bureau has had a policy resolution that the State Fair is and should be the showcase for Missouri agriculture. Our building on the fairgrounds is further evidence of our interest in maintaining this philosophy.”

The metal building was updated several times but saw a major renovation in time for the 2010 Fair. A front porch was added to the structure, new air conditioning installed and the ceilings exposed. A favorite part of the building, the Milk House, was completely redone with a large, round counter resembling a silo. Starting in the 70s, the Milk House sold 5-cent cups of milk. Today, fairgoers still consider the milk a bargain, although inflation has raised the price to 25 cents.

Friday, August 21, 1925, was the first Farm Bureau Day at the Fair. And, at the 1936 Fair, the Farm Bureau Basket Dinner was promoted as one with “no speeches, no set program, entirely informal get-together.”

Today, Farm Bureau/Farm Family Day at the Fair provides special discounts and recognition. Discounts can be found for gate admission, carnival rides and the truck and tractor pull. In cooperation with the University of Missouri Extension Service, Farm Bureau serves an evening meal to County Extension Farm Families and recognizes their contributions to agriculture.

As the fairgrounds expanded, Farm Bureau made moving from one area to another easier. Beginning in 1952, Farm Bureau began a shuttle service with buses running daily throughout the grounds. Farm Bureau switched to tractor-pulled trams and continued the service through the 90s, until it was taken over by the dealers of a major farm equipment company.

Today, Missouri Farm Bureau is the state’s most effective organization working to improve the quality of the life for farmers, rural Missouri and all Missourians. Organized at the grassroots, the organization has a local office in every county and a county organization run by local members. By joining, members become  part of a larger federation of organizations and services.

Through its affiliates, Missouri Farm Bureau offers a full line of insurance services for members. Details on all of these benefits and services can be found at one place during the Fair – the Missouri Farm Bureau building. When you visit the Fair, stop by and learn more about us.





 
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