Hank Williams, Jr. is coming to Sedalia to perform as our first big Saturday night concert act of the 116th Missouri State Fair. Personally of all of Hank’s songs, my favorite is “Family Tradition.” The last line of the songs chorus says, “I’m just carrying on an old family tradition.” Every time I listen to this song, I think of my own family traditions. Mine include showing pigs in the summer, going over to my grandma’s house for every holiday, and attending the Missouri State FFA Convention every year since I was 4.
For many Missourians the Missouri State Fair is a family tradition. They “Come Home” to the Fair every summer. One such family that I happen to know is the Bailey Family, who makes their way from Curryville, MO, every year to show their pigs in the Historic Swine Barn. Their beginnings in the Historic Swine Barn started with their grandfather, Glen Bailey, in 1958. While Glen was in high school he began showing Hampshire and Landrance hogs through his FFA chapter. Following in his brother George Henry’s footsteps, the Bailey brothers became a dynamic duo in the barn. They would travel every summer and show off their hard work inside that old show ring. Both Bailey brothers gained knowledge and memories from their time in the Swine Barn and someday they knew their children would also be in the same barn showing pigs.
In 1983 Glen’s son, Brock Bailey, began his showing career, just like his father did so many years before. He started showing purebred Hampshire hogs at the Missouri State Fair. Every summer, the family would load their pigs up and bring them to be exhibited in Sedalia. Brock and later his brother Ryan would spend their days sitting upon the old wooden bleachers watching shows and making their way into the ring together. After their long days of showing the family would sleep all together next to their pig’s pens making sure they were safe and ready for the boys to drive around the ring the next day. Brock and his brother loved their time at the State Fair just as much as their father and his brother did before them. Brock took the experiences that he received and decided he wanted to continue giving others the same experience in the Swine Barn. While in college attaining his agriculture education degree, he was granted the role of 4-H Superintendent in the Swine Barn. This new role not only gave him a new leadership seat, but also a new place to sleep. As being the superintendent, he was able to sleep in the top of the Historic Swine Barn and be right above the pigs every night of the State Fair.
The Bailey family had deep roots already in the Historic Swine Barn, but those roots were about to get deeper when Brock and his wife extended their already established tradition to their three kids. In 2001 Brock’s oldest son Austin began showing his own pigs in the Missouri State Fair. Later he added Micah and my best friend Elise to the list of family members showing in the Historic Swine Barn. His brother Ryan extended his family too with his three kids heading into the ring beside their older cousins. Their family tradition has run deep and this year Brock & his wife, Stephanie’s first grandchild will be attending her first State Fair at the ripe age of 7 months old.
Everyone’s family traditions can be so different. But just like the end of Hank’s song says, “It’s a family tradition.” Over time, a tradition that is already established doesn’t change. 71 percent of fairgoers surveyed said they come to the Fair because it’s a tradition for the family. That percent not only includes young families, but also generations of families. The Bailey family has had 3 generations come through the barn and more to come. This is their family tradition along with so many others. The Bailey Family “Comes Home” every year to see the friends they camp with, to show their livestock, and to continue to “carry on an old family tradition” they first established in 1958.