State Fair Classic: 1967 to 1972 Ford F-600 – This Is More About Stamina, Traditions, And An Infamous Music Festival Than Just A Nifty Old Truck

My wife and I have been taking our daughter to the state fair since she was a toddler.  She is now significantly older meaning we’ve been attending for quite a while.  We did miss a year or two in there somewhere but overall it’s one of the few traditions we non-tradition holding three possess.

Seeing this old Ford F-600 still doing its thing has become a personal tradition within a family tradition.  Despite taking a picture or two of her every year, this old girl is finally getting her much deserved moment in the virtual sunshine.

For anyone who has never attended their state fair, they owe it to themselves to attend at least once.  While the knee-jerk reaction might be to think it’s all about farming, livestock, and other related agricultural activities, that only covers part of it from my experiences.  You want to learn the latest methods to efficiently build, insulate, and heat your home?  Go to the state fair.  You want to know the most recent developments and leisure activities at state parks or how to fillet the very bony asian carp that have invaded numerous waterways?  Go to the state fair.  You want to see some talented musical acts, all available in a relatively small location and often for free?  Go to the state fair.

One of the reasons we went to the state fair again this year is seen here.  Our daughter gave a demonstration at the 4H building about how bruises are created by filmmakers.  This picture is of a woman’s finger my daughter made to appear bruised.  The woman breeds rabbits for commercial sale and was showing rabbits in the rabbit house.  Unfortunately, people kept trying to pet these caged rabbits.  She said the rabbits don’t like it and will bite.  My daughter gave her this “bruise” so the woman could fib to people about it being a rabbit bite and hopefully discourage the bad behavior of visitors.

This simply illustrates you never know what can be found at the fair.  But a guaranteed sighting at the Missouri State Fair is this Ford F-600.

The first Missouri State Fair was held in 1901.  Two years prior a gentleman named N. H. Gentry had persuaded the Missouri Swine Producers Association to lobby the General Assembly for establishment of a state fair.  An auction of sorts was held so various cities could bid on the amount of land they would donate to the cause.  The winning bidder was the City of Sedalia with 150 acres ponied up for the effort.  Located sixty miles due west of the state capital, the fair is still being held on the same parcel of land.

Ford introduced their fifth generation F-Series trucks in 1967 and the last year of this generation was 1979.  In 1968 the option of a Caterpillar diesel was made available although the model names received an extra digit at the end to denote the diesel, such that the F-600 became the F-6000.  Being an F-600 this example is gas powered.  Having seen it drive around many times over the years, there is no doubt it has a gasoline powered engine.

The cabs of the F-600 and other medium duty Fords were shared with the lighter duty F-100 series trucks.  Fenders were revised for the medium duty trucks to allow for different axle configurations.

Physical changes to these trucks were quite infrequent, with the first being for 1973 when the headlight surrounds grew in size and the font used on the letters to spell “Ford” above the grille was changed.  Our particular example has the smaller headlight surrounds as found in the 1967 models, so this truck is at newest a 1972 model.

Supposing this is a 1967 model, it has been around for fifty-two of the state fair’s 118 years, meaning it’s been here for over 44% of the time the fair has been in existence.  That is stamina.

As a water truck used to suppress dust, this truck covers the fairgrounds continuously during the fair as well as for various events held at the fairgrounds throughout the year.  It’s highly doubtful this truck is sitting for any extended period of time other than the winter.

In its tenure, this truck has seen a tremendous amount.  It has been in service through ten presidential administrations.  It has kept the dust under control prior to the annual ham breakfast conducted during the fair for twelve governors (well, technically eleven, as one served two nonconsecutive terms).

One interesting event this old Ford undoubtedly witnessed and helped with is the Ozark Music Festival that was held at the fairgrounds in July 1974.

A company from Kansas City successfully convinced both the Missouri Department of Agriculture (which oversaw the fair) as well as the City of Sedalia to host a three-day rock concert at the fairgrounds stadium.  Musical acts were not small names either, as Aerosmith, Boz Scaggs, the Eagles, and Lynyrd Skynyrd among a host of others performed.

Only 50,000 tickets were to be sold, however attendance was 150,000 to 350,000 (depending upon the source) and prospective attendees created a seventeen mile traffic jam outside of Sedalia.  The aftermath was significant with one death and over 1,000 drug overdoses being reported.  In the aftermath, helicopters were used to spray lime on the fairgrounds to prevent the outbreak of disease prior to the mess being cleaned up.  Due to the sheer number of discarded hypodermic needles it was easiest to capture the debris by scraping off the top layer of soil with bulldozers and hauling the resultant piles to the landfill.

There was also a strict timeline for cleanup as the fair was to open two weeks after conclusion of the festival.

The Kansas City Star newspaper has a synopsis of the event here.  Several other sources of information, often with more lurid details, are readily found. The referenced Missouri Senate report from later that year stated:

The Ozark Music Festival can only be described as a disaster. It became a haven for drug pushers who were attracted from throughout the United States. The scene made the degradation of Sodom and Gomorrah appear mild. Natural and unnatural sex acts became a spectator sport. Frequently, nude women promoted drugs with advertisements on their bodies.

This Ford truck had a front row seat to this spectacle, which some sources purport to be bigger than Woodstock, and this fine old Ford truck is still here.  If only it could talk.

Incidentally, the City of Sedalia outlawed rock concerts within the city limits due to this.  That edict must have relaxed over time as Foreigner performed the night of August 16 of this year.

A few years ago my wife and I struck up a conversation with a gentleman at the fair.  A resident of Sedalia, he has attended the fair on opening day every year since 1959.  This Ford has been there nearly the entire time.

Just think; this picture showing a stunt car show at the fair in 1957 was as new as 2009 is now when this truck first went into service.  That sort of alters the longevity perspective of this old Ford truck, doesn’t it?

Inspecting this F-600 a bit closer, I realized it hasn’t gone very far from where it came.  It was purchased in Sedalia, so it’s really only gone across town.  The motor vehicle inspection sticker found in the lower left of the windshield of any car or truck registered in Missouri is also telling.  The inspection sticker is dated April 2003, which makes me suspect this old truck likely hasn’t left the fairgrounds property in all that time.

Despite its age, this old Ford has a lot of life left in it.  In May, Ford announced the reintroduction of the F-600 for model year 2020, based upon the existing F-550 architecture.  It makes me wonder if any of those will still be as reliably doing their thing 52 years from now as what this old Ford is still doing.

Found August 16, 2019, at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia

Related State Fair reading:

1959 Dodge Coronet Highway Patrol car by JS

1968 Mercury Monterey Highway Patrol car by JS