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Since 1901, the Missouri State Fairgrounds have been the site of the annual celebration of the best of Missouri in Sedalia, a city of about 20,000 people located midway between Kansas City and the capitol in Jefferson City.  Of its approximately 400 acres, 215 comprise a National Register Historic District with 66 contributing structures.  Early 20th century brick buildings by Sedalia architect Thomas Bast form a significant core, but more recent structures - some of which were meant to be temporary - range from tacky to banal.

The architectural style of any state fair is eclectic at best.  Are there ways to unify the old structures with new design, creating visual links to make the Fair a cohesive architectural statement?  How can the various interests on the fairgrounds be accommodated?  How can changes be reconciled with tradition?

What will the Fair's future be?  How can problems of an ageing and inadequate infrastructure, decreasing attendance and revenue be solved?  How can the Fair become self-supporting while competing with the changes in contemporary life?

To find creative solutions to these problems, more than 125 people came together on the fairgrounds on August 11-13, 1995 - four days before the opening of the Fair.  Design professionals, committee volunteers, visiting critics, Fair staff, political and civic leaders, Sedalia school children, and interested citizens spent the weekend brainstorming in an intense weekend event called the "Missouri State Fairgrounds Charrette."

To see a report of the event, with photos of the activities and a summary of the solutions proposed, click here.
Return to AIA MO Initiatives or view information on the State Penitentiary Charrette.


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