A variety of improvements are currently being made to the Missouri State Fairgrounds, and Gov. Mike Parson and other state dignitaries highlighted one of the biggest ones on Friday with a ground-breaking ceremony.

A 20,000 square-foot Director's Pavilion is under construction just inside the Centennial gate. Work is expected to be completed before the state of the 2020 Missouri State Fair on Aug. 13.

"Enhancing our Fairgrounds with the addition of the pavilion, supports the Fair's mission and vision to maximize and promote the ongoing use of our fairgrounds as a center for a variety of events throughout the year. The pavilion will serve our state fair in many ways for many years, both during the annual Fair in August, and year-round for folks who want to rent it for various reasons," said State Fair Director Mark Wolfe.

According to Department of Agriculture Director Chris Chinn, "agriculture matters and the Missouri State Fair matters, not just to people who are exhibiting at the Fair, but there are so many great memories that are made at the State Fair every year, whether you live in a rural community, or in an urban community. And it's just my honor to be able to serve our farmers and ranchers, and to get to see this year the ham breakfast under a permanent structured roof, where we don't have to worry about the wind blowing it away, or the rain knocking down the tent. So Governor, and to our legislators, thank you so much. This is a huge burden lifted off of our team's shoulders. So thank you very much."

Gov. Parson thanked Nucor Steel for selecting Sedalia to locate their new steel plant with a $250 million investment. He also thanked then for providing the steel structure for the new Director's Pavilion.

Nucor's arrival was announced by then Gov. Eric Greitens in November 2017 at the Lowell Mohler Building. Present at that event was Nucor Steel Sedalia Vice President and General Manager Kevin VanDeven. VanDeven was also at Friday's event.

"We absolutely fell in love with the Fair. And we attended our first Governor's Ham Breakfast in August 2018. Clearly this is ag country, we understand that. We're steel makers, we understand that agriculture's what makes our state really go. We love the way state fair was investing in the young kids and saw the growth and development opportunities that it offered those kids aligned perfectly with our culture and our company," Vandeven commented.

Gov. Parson said that the Missouri Sate Fair "is the only showcase we have for the state of Missouri. This is it ... having this (facility) in Sedalia is a big deal."'

Parson estimated there are another five to six million dollars coming to the Missouri State Fairgrounds for even more improvements in this year's budget.

According to the Fair's facebook page, the maintenance staff and contractors are completing improvements around the grounds, including:

West Campground – Back-filling of the utilities has begun and transformers, distribution panels, and electrical pedestals will be installed soon.

New Exhibitor Campground – Storm water and drainage work is underway.

Swine Barn – Electrical work continues and the main distribution panels have arrived. Conduit is being installed.

Horse Barn – New concrete has been installed on the loading dock.

Sheep Pavilion – Footing is being dug for new office and restroom areas. The structure is almost ready for roof metal installation and the concrete work continues.

The upgrades were funded by the Missouri state legislature, Thursday's post noted.

Septagon Construction Company is the general contractor for the project.