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Drive business growth with rural America marketing insights

Are you ready for actionable marketing insight you can apply to help you reach, connect and convert rural American consumers? Hop in the front seat as you’ll be riding shotgun with Cliff Callis, your OUTdrive host, as he takes you down the road to success.

Sep 7, 2021

If you were told to plan an event that included entertainment, food and housing options for 350,000 guests, where would you start? For Kari Mergen, marketing director of the Missouri State Fair, this event planning process happens on a yearly basis. For the second episode in OUTdrive’s “Live from the Fair” series, Cliff Callis sat down with Kari to get an inside look at the strategy behind hosting the state’s largest agricultural expo.

Kari is in her seventh year as the marketing director, but her history with the fair goes back much further. As a Green Ridge native and lifetime fair-goer, Kari’s first job was as a State Fair Farm Bureau tram hostess. She went on to earn a degree in education from University of Central Missouri, starting her career as a high school English and journalism teacher at Green Ridge. Kari joined the team at the State Fair in 2008 as a public information specialist and worked the next six years in that role before her promotion to marketing director in 2014.

From housing livestock to booking concerts to creating engaging TikTok videos, hosting an event like the Missouri State Fair is a unique planning challenge. Tune into this episode of OUTdrive as Cliff and Kari discuss all the moving parts that help make the magic of the fair come to life.  

What you’ll learn: 


  • Kari’s day-to-day responsibilities during the fair and the rest of the year


  • Kari’s history working for the fair and her path to marketing director
  • The impact of social media on marketing tactics and live coverage of the fair
  • How the marketing staff handles challenges related to concerts and large-scale entertainment
  • Insight on the Missouri State Fair internship program
  • The extent of planning that goes into events within the 11-day fair
  • Kari’s reflection on pivoting the 2020 fair, takeaways from 2021 and thoughts for 2022