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Bicentennial Commission funds restoration of State Fair main gate

Missouri’s bicentennial took center stage at this year’s State Fair, and that recognition will continue through the restoration of the fairgrounds’ main gate. 

The project, funded by the Bicentennial Commission, will redefine the gate’s contours through priming, resurfacing, and water blasting. The gate’s three booths and upper steel structure will be repainted and outfitted with new light fixtures and signs. 

The gate was originally constructed in 1939 and was last repaired in 2016. The restoration is expected to be completed in early 2022. 

“The historic main gate on 16th Street is an icon for the fairgrounds,” State Fair Director Mark Wolfe said. “It is the first impression many fairgoers have when they enter the grounds. We were excited when the Bicentennial Commission told us they wanted to fund the renovation of the gate as a lasting project on the fairgrounds to commemorate the 200th year of our state.”

The Bicentennial Commission approached Wolfe and other organizers with ideas to integrate the celebration with 2021’s fair five years ago. This year’s event saw celebrations of Missouri’s oldest farms, a display showcasing the Bicentennial Quilt, and a throwback to the fair’s early days through the annual butter cow sculpture

“Missouri commemorated the 100th year of statehood at the 1921 Missouri Centennial Exposition and State Fair. 100 years later, Missouri has reached another milestone of 200 years of statehood,” Beth Pike, the State Historical Society of Missouri’s bicentennial coordinator, said. “The Missouri Bicentennial Commission recognizes the ties that bind — and welcome — all Missourians to the Missouri State Fair each year. Missouri 2021 honors the legacy of the State Fair with the restoration of the historic main gate, which will continue to welcome fairgoers far into the future.”

More than 330,000 visitors attended this year’s fair after 2020’s offering pivoted to a youth livestock show amid the pandemic.

The Bicentennial Commission invested in a myriad of celebratory projects as well, including the Bicentennial Bridge in Jefferson City.