Midwestern city-dwellers, grab your sweetheart and your map: Less than 200 miles away, the Missouri State Fair
hands out ribbons for the state's best from Thursday, August 10, to Sunday, August 20. Critters (including sheep, pigs, llamas and horses), bench-pressers and barbecue crowd the Sedalia fairgrounds (2503 West 16th Street), along with carnival rides, the rodeo and the fair's own Idol
-style singing competition. On Saturday, August 12, check out some Southern gospel singing at noon and 3:30 p.m. on the Touchstone Energy Stage, followed by a fiddling competition at 5 p.m. (both free). Feast on your favorite variety of meat-on-a-stick while eyeballing the hundreds of exhibitions (from art to watermelons), but don't miss the miniature donkeys at the Coliseum at 7:30 p.m. If teensy donkeys are just too much, James Taylor also takes the stage at 7:30 p.m., but over at the Pepsi Grandstand; note that Taylor's show costs an additional $35 to $55 (not including fair admission), and tickets are available through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com
The fair's gates are open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., and admission costs $7 to $8. Many more details are available at www.mostatefair.com, or you can call the general information line at 800-422-3247.