by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Long before the State Fair began, Missouri livestock breeders received thousands of premiums and much recognition at national and international expositions. The state also ranked first in production of several important crops. In recognition of this leadership, the State Agricultural Society established an exposition in Boonville, Missouri in the 1850s – but the project folded after three years. The first Missouri State Fair was held September 9-13 in 1901. Mr. Norman J. Coleman of St. Louis was the first president of the Board of Directors. From 1901 to today, the Missouri State Fair has been a barometer of the state’s economic health and a documentary of the history of Missouri agriculture. The Missouri State Fair plays an essential role in keeping agriculture one of Missouri’s top industries.