MISSOURIAN - The Boone County Fair returns Tuesday to the fairgrounds in Columbia, with five days of carnival rides, livestock shows and carnival rides.
The fair spent four years in Sturgeon after a lack of funding closed the country fairgrounds in 2015. Last year, the fair was canceled because of the pandemic.
Gates open at 4 p.m. for the carnival each day through Saturday. The livestock shows for poultry and rabbits take place beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, with the dairy goat show at 12:30 p.m. and the cattle show at 6 p.m. The livestock auction takes place at 6 p.m. Friday.
During the fair, dozens of children and adults will compete in the livestock shows. Jeff Cook, president of the Boone County Fair, said approximately 150 kids will show off their livestock this year through 4-H and Future Farmers of America.
Nightly events begin around 4 p.m. and include 14 carnival rides, a bear show, an interactive Kids Celebration game show, a petting zoo with at least 70 animals, face painting, a magical juggler, balloon twister and live music.
On Monday, before the fair officially starts, an array of sugar-cured hams will be judged and auctioned during the annual Ham Show. Hams are evaluated based on a variety of factors, including meatiness, firmness and aroma.
Winning hams typically sell for hundreds of dollars to high bidders. The ham breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday. Hams not claimed by the end of the fair will be donated to the Missouri Food Bank.
The fair will hold its first car show Saturday where it invites owners of all makes and models to register.
Cook said the fair usually sees more than 10,000 visitors in a typical year, but the fair board is not sure what to expect this year.
“Our carnival lady is telling me that every carnival that they performed at up until ours, their attendance has almost doubled and tripled in some cases,” he said. “Coming out of COVID, people are anxious to get out.”
Admission is $10 at the gate, with free entry for children 6 and younger.