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Serving: MO

Missouri State Fair gate restoration revealed

Photos by Mindy Ward Missouri State Fair Historic Main Gate
GRAND GATE: The Missouri State Fair Historic Main Gate was restored as part of the state’s bicentennial celebration. It was unveiled this year before the fair, which will be from Aug. 11-21 in Sedalia, Mo.
Ticket booths and an art-deco design create a unique look for the historic Main Gate.

I’ve always wondered what was up with the north gate at the Missouri State Fair. It just never seemed to fit with the other buildings or overall design of the fairgrounds. This summer, I learned just what made this entrance so special and unique.

The Missouri State Fairgrounds is one of the oldest in the nation, dating back to 1889. Many of the buildings are in the National Register of Historic Places, which includes the Main Gate built in 1939.

It was designed by Arthur J.P. Schwarz, who used a deco-art modern look which, according to historical documents, was a major stylistic departure from every other building on the fairgrounds.

During its new, old-look restoration ceremony, Missouri Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn shared details of the entrance. The structure is painted in vibrant red, white and blue. There are three white ticket booths, spanned by a steel arch containing the state seal and words “Missouri State Fair.”

Missouri State Fair Historic Main Gate

STATE SEAL: The Main Gate at the Missouri State Fair is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It recently underwent a restoration.

Each of the ticket booths still has three windows and a restored bright red door at the rear; none are in use today. The original builder also made sure to make the center booth a bit larger to accommodate a small bathroom.

Chinn shared how the design and structure signaled to everyone who passed through it that the Missouri State Fair was in tune with the changing times and evolving.

The historic Main Gate has had several small touch-ups over the years; this was the first complete restoration effort. The Missouri Bicentennial Commission funded the restoration. Still, it was Michael Sweeney, a Bicentennial Commission coordinator, who best summed up my feeling about the Main Gate and the Missouri State Fair.

“This place perfectly captures the breadth and depth of the history and culture of this state,” he said. “When you are here, you get to feel all those Missourians of the past, and all those people who make agriculture such an important part of our state. It shows off the vibrancy of agriculture in the state. This place you get to experience the past, present and future of this state.”

So, this year as my family heads over to yet another Missouri State Fair, I’ll look at the Main Gate with a new understanding of its rich history to our state and agriculture — you should too.

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